Is Giving Zakah to Employees as Their Wage Permissible?

25 June, 2020
Q In light of what is happening around the world related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, is it permissible to give zakah to employees as their wage?Most of the economy and commercial goods have stagnated, and many companies, out of concern for their employees, have been ordered to give them a leave of absence. What will happen if this carries on for a long time? Based on the fact that we distribute our zakah to unfamiliar deserving parties, be it through charities or social circles, are our employees not more deserving of such kindness, as they are all responsible for their families and their employers no longer have income to pay their monthly salaries? This is a global crisis, and if employers abandon their employees and continue to give zakah to distant parties, who will give the employees an income that they can use to support their families? Most employees do not ask for help from unfamiliar people or charitable organizations in order to receive zakah, and they are among those whom the ignorant would assume to be self-sufficient due to their restraint.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- If the employees are self-sufficient, capable of working, and able to find work to earn a wage, they do not qualify to receive zakah.

2- During COVID-19 pandemic and unemployment crisis when the healthy and capable cannot find work, they can receive zakah temporarily until they find work or regain self-sufficiency.

3- If the employees are in the care of the employer based on a contractual agreement, it is not permissible for the employers to shelter their wealth and that which is obligated from it, through charity.


Answering your question, the Resident Fatwa Committee (RFC) of AMJA (Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America states:

There are two sides to consider when addressing this issue; the employee who receives the zakah and the employer who gives it.

As for the employee who receives zakah, charity is not permissible for the self-sufficient or strong and unimpaired. We read in the hadith, “there is no portion allotted for the self-sufficient or the capable earner.”

The strong is one who is physically capable of earning a wage. The unimpaired is one who is healthy and without disability.


Ubaydullah Ibn Adi ibn al-Khiyar narrated that:

Two men informed me that they went to the Prophet (PBUH) when he was at the Farewell Pilgrimage while he was distributing the charity. They asked him to give them some of it. He looked us up and down, and seeing that we were robust, he said: If you wish, I shall give you something, but there is nothing spare in it for a rich man or for one who is strong and able to earn a living. (Abu Dawud)

Therefore, if the employees are self-sufficient, capable of working, and able to find work to earn a wage, they do not qualify to receive zakah.

During COVID-19 and unemployment crisis when the healthy and capable cannot find work, they can receive zakah temporarily until they find work or regain self-sufficiency.

As for the employers, they should not shelter their wealth through charity nor should they seek any personal benefit from their charity.

If the employees are in the care of the employer based on a contractual agreement, it is not permissible for the employers to shelter their wealth and that which is obligated from it, through charity.

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If the law releases them from that agreement (due to a public disaster, for example), then there is a great deal more leniency with the ruling.

In this case, the employee and their eligibility to receive zakah should be considered based on what has been mentioned above.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Source: www.amjaonline.net