I am speaking on behalf of a friend from...

Asked by Anon on 05-12-2020 14:16:38
Question posted in the General Law category relating to Western Cape

I am speaking on behalf of a friend from Uganda as she has been struggling for almost two years with a reputable company that she was working for and being unpaid for all the work she has done for them - only basically receiving 'stipend' like payments. 

Before starting to work for them, an agreement was made between herself and the company that she would be a permanent employee under the company, earning a salary of 'X' amount from early 2019 going forward. On top of this, they had also decided to help her in furthering her studies and offered to pay her tuition as well for the Advanced Diploma degree that she was pursuing. Owing to having received such an opportunity, she decided to come back from her country to Cape Town again to take up the offer.

Problems arose with this after a month of her being under the company, working full time as they still had not drawn up a contract for all the agreements that had been made, besides a letter that they had written up for her to give to the institution where she would be furthering her studies. With complications of her still being under a student visa, rather than a working visa, the financial advisor had also during the process to get everything sorted, refused to comply in drawing up a contract (even to draw up a contract to instate her as an intern, as this would have been legal with her student visa) despite all the verbal agreements made before the start of her work venture. They also did not pay for the work she had done during her month of working there. She had applied for her working visa to sort this matter out (before and after all complications arose), however, due to complications of the COVID-19 as well as a mix-up, she had been unable to receive a working visa thus far. 

As a verbal agreement was made and after many meetings with her employer to sort this out, my friend decided to trust the company (mainly the CEO of this company) to keep to their promises of paying her salaries and tuition and stayed on board and kept working for them. She also kept  applying for her working visa in order to have it and gain her salaries, however to no avail. Until this day, they are failing to keep their promises of payments and are behind in around 10 x installments of her university tuition as well as failing to pay her salaries thus far for the year 2019 (and to my knowledge, for some work down in this year as well), despite  verbal and written exchange of discussions pertaining to this matter. Note: her tertiary schooling went on until this year thus she is still in contact with her company. 

I am really angered by this - the extremely unethical way the company has treated her but at the same time not sure how to help her as 1) she does not have a contract and the company refused to draw up a contract 2) does not have a working visa and worked as a foreigner in the country with her student visa 3) unsure if this can even be taken up to the CCMA because of the conditions of this. seerious matter There must be something more to be done and I thought to write it out briefly to see if I am able to receive some legal advise through these online avenues and see if there is a way out of this and for her to receive the salaries for which she worked incredibly hard and dedicated a lot of her time. She has also struggled financially due to what she had gotten herself in with this company and they have not offered more solutions for all the mistakes they have also made in this as well. They have not taken responsibility as the company from having offered her employment and not complying with what that entails.

Please let me know if you can offer some help in this and if there are ways for her to received her salaries. 

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