The hospitality industry, and life in general, can be a tricky space to negotiate, but Stephen Hickmore, who has worked in the industry for far too many years, is here to help. Got a question for Stephen? Send them to and we’ll seek the sage, unbiased advice of our Agony Uncle. Questions and answers to appear on Hospitality Marketplace, but we’ll keep it all anonymous. We promise.

Each day I get asked many questions. Maybe it’s the white hair and longevity that makes people believe that I can be trusted with their concerns and dilemmas. Over the years I think I have heard it all, but no, I am surprised with new questions often. Part of the reason why I love this job. So, ask away, we will keep it confidential.

Dear Stephen,

I have been verbally offered a job. The new employer tells me that it is fine to hand in my resignation but I do not have the letter of appointment or offer in writing yet. Is it OK for me to resign?

Can I resign yet?

Hold back on sending that resignation letter! In my experience, many things can change between the verbal offer and the completion of the paperwork. Most companies have limits of authority whereby a Letter of Agreement would need approval and sign off by the CEO, Ops Director, GM or other authorised person. Only once the letter is signed and in your inbox, then signed and returned by you, is it OK to resign. You must check the letter carefully to ensure that you agree with all terms, salary, leave options, bonus as well as start date before having that difficult chat with your boss.


Dear Stephen,

I have just received a pay rise, and I was delighted. But, when I received my payslip my deductions have increased. More tax and more provident fund contributions. This is not fair!

– Not what I expected

Yep, what were you expecting? Did you think the tax man wouldn’t want to take more of your money? They say that there only two certainties in life, death and taxes. Pay, you have to. But, be compliant and do your annual tax return you may get a refund. Remember that your provident fund is a great, tax efficient, way to plan for your retirement. Normally your company will pay an equal amount to your contribution. So, you haven’t lost your provident fund money, it is there gaining interest for you.


Dear Stephen,

My company has told me not to employ any “foreign nationals” as it affects our BBBEE ratings, but I am missing out on employing some great skills as a result!

Why can’t I employ foreign nationals?

Most companies have a policy on BBBEE with regards to employment and it is worth ensuring that you are well acquainted with it. In my opinion, it is imperative to follow your company’s guidelines as it is the responsibility of all of us to uplift, empower and ensure that inequity is a thing of the past.

I believe there is a lot of confusion in this area. A “foreign national” is very different from an “illegal immigrant”. A person with a valid work permit or other documentation certifying that they can legally work in South Africa, as well as permanent residents, have every right to pursue work, pay taxes and thrive in South Africa. Many of these “legal” immigrants are large contributors to our economy and are highly skilled. It is probable that your company has a policy to give preference to South African Citizens when employing and giving further preference to previously disadvantaged groups. I doubt that your company has an effective ban on the employment of permit holders and permanent residents. Be sure to get clarity on your company policy.

  • Stephen Hickmore
    Stephen Hickmore

    Stephen is a headhunter for the hospitality industry, and Co-founder of The Hospitality Solutions Company H.S.C. as well as Hickmore Recruitment. Stephen has a world of experience in hotels. He trained with Trusthouse Forte Hotels in the UK before moving to South Africa in the 80’s. After a 3 year period with Southern Sun Hotels, Stephen became a recruiter for the hospitality industry. Stephen presents and MC’s at many events and competitions. He has an insider view of the crazy world of hotels, and writes about anything from mad chefs to giving up the booze. His observations are at times educational, and at other times oblique.

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