How Safrea supported me in a sticky situation

by | Aug 10, 2022 | News & Events

by | Aug 10, 2022 | News & Events

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“Freelancing offers the benefits of independence and flexibility. But as freelancers we are also vulnerable to exploitation, non-payment, or slow payment.” Sue Randall shares her personal experience and how Safrea supported her in this potentially sticky situation.

“I was contracted by an overseas company (‘the company’) in February 2022 to copy-edit two large volumes for a reputable university publisher (‘the publisher’). The company is a third-party service provider, and freelancers thus have no direct contact with the publisher. The publisher is based in Britain, the company is in Asia, and I am in South Africa. I took the job partly because of the publisher’s good name and partly because the person who referred me is a reputable and ethical editor who is internationally well known. However, I had no sooner signed a contract with the company than he told me he had decided to stop working for them because of serious payment delays. I immediately discussed the payment situation by email with the company. They sent me reassuring messages that their payment delays were now resolved and payment would be made within 21 days of my completing the work.”

“I had already started the job, so I decided to go ahead. But when payment time came, the promised 21-day period duly became 28 days, then 35, then unspecified. Having worked on these projects full-time for more than four months, I was left unable to pay monthly bills like my hospital plan and municipal account. For the first time in more than two decades, I even struggled with the costs of having pets. My situation affected my health, both physically and mentally. I felt lost, alone, and afraid.”

“In the process of trying to find out what recourse (if any) exists for freelancers whose clients are geographically remote, I contacted Safrea. I also sent a letter of demand to the company, with a threat of legal action. Safrea responded quickly and offered to write letters to both the company and the publisher to ask about my payment. However, I received the first payment within a week of my letter of demand, making it unnecessary for Safrea to get involved. The balance of payment was made a week later, as promised.”

“It was a great relief to know that, if necessary, I could turn to Safrea in this potentially sticky situation. The publisher is probably unaware of the fiasco happening behind the scenes, and they might not be too pleased about it. The threat of a letter – especially written by a reputable organisation – might be all that it takes to encourage certain clients to do the right thing. I am glad that I became a member of Safrea and grateful they responded as they did. I hope I will be in a position to give similar support to other Safrea members in the future.”