Rulings on working environment and salary

Fatwa ID: 02612

Answered by: Maulana Javed Ibn Nadhir

Question

Asalamualaikum.

Hazrat, please assist.

I am employed for my time at work not to complete a particular task. Whilst at work, we have a schedule. Our schedule confirms, when we have our break and lunch.

Occasionally, I am late to return to my desk from break/lunches. This is because I may be talking to a friend, or on my phone. Basically taking up time to do personal stuff.

1) We're paid a full wage each month. If we're late even by a minute, or second for that matter, do we have really have to give up that portion of time from our salaries despite the fact that in our contracts, it doesn't state such a ruling, or condition, and culturally even if our superiors were to find out, the best they would do is reprimand unofficially, and any repeat occurrences will lead to dismissal. What is the shariah's stance on this? I am often told it all comes down to the employer, if they're okay with it, then it's fine. However, even the bosses don't always play by the rules themselves. I have often started my shift a few minutes late, and I only asked some times to work it back.

2) What is the position, someone who is at his desk seemingly working, but secretly is doing his own personal work at a time when he's supposed to be doing his tasks. However, despite that in the end his work is still at a very good standard. Is he supposed to give up that portion of time from his wage despite (again) the fact that in our contracts, it doesn't state such a ruling, or condition, and culturally even if our
superiors were to find out, the best they would do is reprimand unofficially, and any repeat occurrences will lead to dismissal.

My employer (like most companies) have a stipulation called "Internet -fair usage policy". In short, it is permissible to use the Internet for non-work related purposes even during office hours providing it does not compromise the quality, and integrity of our work.

Perhaps, personal work was those wrong way to term it. It's really small things.  For example, I am writing to you now whilst I am working also, this will take me no more than 2-3 minutes. Also, I may occasionally, I may check my bank balance, or read a new article, or place an online order (shopping) etc. In short general browsing, and accessing my personal accounts to ensure all is in order. This does not eat up a lot
of 
time, and is culturally the norm, where I work. I've been working like this for more than 5 years with no formal resistance from my employer.  I never kept tally of how long each non-work activity took.

Bearing this point in mind, is it impermissible under Shariah to accept full wages, and what is the ruling if someone has accepted 5 years of wages in this manner? Plus, 10 years of working for previous employers.

Is one excused, or is one expected to estimate an amount which, will probably several thousands of £ in my case, and give it to charity without the intention of reward?

Answer

In regards to your queries;

  1. Allah SWT states in the Qura’an:

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا أَوفوا بِالعُقودِ

O you who have faith! Keep your agreements (Surah Al-Maidah 5; V 1)

From the above verse, we come to know that we as people of Imaan are required to keep our agreements. Therefore, within our agreements without employers is to be on time and so forth. Therefore, if you have been late at work, and if your employers have been reprimanded about this, this is totally fine. But also it will be a sin as we are going against fulfilling a promise.

In the Hadith has been mentioned:

The Prophet sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) when speaking about the characteristics of hypocrites, he said: "…If he promises he breaks his promise…" [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

From the above hadith its clear that by not fulfilling our promises and agreement a person will fall within the category of being a ‘Munafeeq’ (hypocrite).

2. It has been mentioned in ‘Fatawa Mahmoodiyyah’:

“If the employer’s grant permission to carry out non-job related activities then it’s permitted to do so, and this person won’t be sinful. If the employer’s doesn’t grant permission, this is not permissible and the person will be sinful”. (Fatawa Mahmoodiyyah Vol 16, Pg 572, Darul Ifta Jamiah Farooqiyyah)

“During working hours, besides performing Salaah (with an agreement of the employers) a person is not allowed to be engaged in any other work. But if one still in the work environment and in the office, a person can do some personal activities as far this doesn’t interrupt the actual work and doesn’t delay the work” (Ahsnaul Fatawa Vol 7, Pg 300, Saeed Company)

And finally, in regards to your wages or salary and if you need to give any portion back?

If general forgiveness is sought from the employer, then that is sufficient, and all of one’s wages will be Halal. If the employer does not forgive or it is not possible to seek forgiveness for some reason, then technically it is not obligatory to return wages for spending time doing personal activities during work hours as long as one remained at the workplace.

Imam al-Haskafi, the renowned Hanafi Jurist, states:

An employee employed by someone for a specified time is entitled to his wage for [merely] surrendering himself for that time even if he does not wok [diligently].” (Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr al-Mukhtar 6/69)

This means that although one is sinful for negligence and doing non-job related activities during work hours, the full wages would be considered Halal provided one stayed at the workplace for the full working hours. This is from a legal point of view, in that if the matter were taken to court, a Muslim judge would rule that the employer must pay his employee. From an employee’s perspective, however, his conscience should induce him to return some amount from the salary in return for the time spent doing personal activities.

You can find the last part of the information about the salary on: http://www.daruliftaa.com/

Only Allah knows best.

Written by Maulana Javed Ibn Nadhir

Checked and Approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

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