I read this week’s Choshen Mishpat article which brought up the question the folowing question. My daughter receives payment for watching small children during Shabbos mornings (Shabbos groups) in order for their parents to daven in Shul.
In view of this past week’s article does this present a problem?
Essentially it is a problem, called sechar Shabbos. This is that even if a person did work on Shabbos, he is not allowed to receive payment for it. The person paying it is also not allowed to give the money because it is lifnei iver. There are however some options.
One of the heterim for sechar Shabbos is called havla’ah, if the payment is “absorbed” and included in something else. For example, if the person worked before and during Shabbos, and is paid as a lump sum for all the work then, the sechar Shabbos is not noticeable and it is permitted to receive it. There are poskim who say that if the boss will decide to give the worker an extra ten cents per hour as a present, (i.e. instead of $10 hr. $10.10 an hour) then he may give her the payment and present at the same time, and she would be able to receive her payment.
For the future though there is another option, which I once heard in the name of R’ S. Z. Auerbach zt”l. One of the forms of havla’ah is if the charge is for is also partially a sale. For example, a caterer or hotel is not considered sechar Shabbos because they are providing the person with a service and selling the person the food etc. This idea says R’ S. Z. can be used for a babysitter also. She should buy some candy or nosh for the children, (which anyways might help them behave better) and give it to them on Shabbos. Then the payment that she is receiving is partially a purchase and partially for the work, which would be havla’ah, and permitted.
Shulchan Aruch O:CH 306-4, Gra”z 306-8, Aruch Hashulchan 306-6, Shmiras Shabbos K’hilchoso 28-55, Be’er Moshe 5-103, Rivivos Efrayim 8-153(1).