Employing foreign nationals

Written by Ferdie Lochner LLB (PhD)

I am a management and strategy specialist supporting businesses across a range of organizational fields, including finances, human resources, technology and legal, and among others I am active at board level with governance and oversight duties, and at operational level, I am involved with steering and supporting businesses towards statutory compliance. I firmly belief in the value of innovation and the instrumental role of small to medium-sector enterprises in creating economic growth and spreading wealth, and through maintaining the highest standards of excellence I hope to continue make a positive difference towards businesses so that they can survive and thrive.

February 3, 2021

Employing foreign nationals

Regularly our clients describe to us what must all too often be a problem confronting many businesses, and especially small businesses, in South Africa: 

Entrepreneurs, in good faith, hire a foreign national who deliver excellent workmanship, to the point that the entrepreneur comes to enjoy and trust this individual over time and then the question of a legitimate work permit features…

The problem arises through the entrepreneur not keeping a check on whether this specific foreigner had a legitimate work permit of which the entrepreneur could confirm its existence and its legitimacy, and if it was legitimate, when it was to expire. Sometimes in the absence of the aforementioned, the problem features when the foreigner resolves to apply for a work permit, or a renewal, as the case may be, or could not produce an existing work permit which is supposed to expire, or no work permit can be produced at all. The last thing you need is to be asked these questions by an inspector from the Department of Labour.  These, though, are the minimum essential checks a larger business with dedicated HR resources would have completed and would have pursued to maintain the status quo, or by having standard processes to stay on top of this. 

This is not always the case for entrepreneurs in small businesses.  When this problem arises, the entrepreneur then suddenly faces at least two immediate problems.  First, he may have employed an illegal foreigner, which is a contravention of South African law, and second, he may lose a valuable employee which could be seriously detrimental to his business. 

Employing foreign nationals is subject to several regulatory controls. You could either avoid harm to your business altogether or limit the damage the quicker you attend to these situations before they occur.

Contact us for any guidance or advice.


Ferdie Lochner (PhD)

Director | Regulatory Compliance


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