This article endeavors to establish the moral force behind the worker’s claim to a compensatory wage in return for the labor burdens she endures. The apparent incompatibility between compensation and voluntary losses suggests that the only reason for providing a compensatory wage is the need to entice a valued service. In response, the article considers and rejects attempts to ground the compensatory wage on duress, mutual trade, and desert. Instead, it argues that the worker is not responsible for her loss of well-being because she would not have incurred it in the absence of the employer’s promise to compensate. Key Words: compensatory wage • contributory wage • detrimental reliance • desert • labor burdens • promises • responsibility.