SFA E-zine – The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member, 

 

Welcome to this week's edition of our SFA e-zine. 

 

In this week’s update, we have the SFA Budget 2019 submission where we states that the government needs to focus on the small businesses in Ireland and support this important sector to allow it to fulfil its true potential. 

 

Our HR article looks at a case where an employee failed a random drugs test and was subsequently dismissed by their employer but after an unfair dismissal claim the ruling was in favour of the employee.

 

The NSAI Annual Report 2017 reveals 1,490 standards for businesses, communities and individuals were published last year and you can read the highlights in our article. We are also delighted to feature the new Enterprise Ireland Brexit Tool Kit, aimed at helping businesses to achieve market diversification.  

 

As part of SFA Affinity, each week we are highlighting some of the amazing offers available to members. This week we have an offer from our newest partner IrelandEAP as well as an upcoming webinar with them focusing on how they can support managers and employees alike.   

 

Our Employment Law conference is going on the road again! We will be in Cork on the 26 September and in Dublin on the 10 October.  Keep an eye out of our weekly emails giving you an insight into the content that will be covered during the day.  This is a great conference to attend as it will not only cover legislative updates, it will also provide you with real life examples to learn from.

 

As always, we’d love to hear from you about any queries you may have, issues you wish to have raised with Government or other stakeholders and your ideas on how we can improve the business environment for us all. Please contact me on tel: 01 605 1602 or e-mail: sven@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.

 

Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director

 


NEWS
To dismiss or not dismiss if an employee fails the alcohol and drugs test in the workplace
 

This week we look at a case where an employee who did not pass the alcohol and drug testing was dismissed and the Labour Court found in their favour…


The case of A Complainant v A Meat Processing Plant, serves as a helpful guide to small business owners on best practice when it comes to dismissing an employee on the grounds that the employee failed the alcohol and drugs test.

 

In this case the employee failed a random drugs test and was subsequently dismissed by their employer. They took a claim for unfair dismissal through the Workplace Relations Commission and appealed the decision of the adjudicator to the Labour Court. The Adjudication Officer and Labour Court took the below factors into consideration when they found in favour of the employer:

 

Disciplinary policy

  • The employer had conducted a thorough investigation in line with its own disciplinary procedures. The employee was suspended on pay pending the investigation, he was afforded the right of representation at all stages and he was given the opportunity to appeal the decision.

Drugs and alcohol policy

  • The company had a clear drugs and alcohol policy in place which gave the employer the right to randomly test employees. The policy also included a section that referred the matter to the disciplinary procedure if an employee failed the test. The claimant in this case had signed this policy, which the business kept a copy of.
  • The employer was also able to show that as part of the induction process employees were made aware of the company’s zero tolerance approach to intoxicants due to the nature of the work activities.

 

Proportionality

  • The Adjudication Officer determined that the employer had substantive grounds to dismiss the employee and that taking the circumstances into account that the penalty of dismissal was proportionate. The Adjudication Officer found that to not dismiss the claimant would have put him and his colleagues’ safety at risk due to the nature of the work environment and it would undermine and devalue the effects of the “zero” tolerance policy.
  • It should also be noted that the Court recommended when it referenced another case that, in the event an employee discloses that they have an alcohol/drug dependency problem, the employer should ensure that the employee is given an opportunity to seek professional treatment before considering dismissal.

It is important to note that whilst in some circumstances it may be reasonable to dismiss an employee who attends for work under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who fails an intoxicants test, employers still need to adhere to their own workplace policies on disciplinary and alcohol and drug testing. Each case should be assessed on its own particular set of facts to decide what sanction is appropriate and factors such as risk to safety, the level of responsibility and if the employee has contact with the public should be weighed up in the decision-making process to ensure the sanction is a reasonable and proportionate response to that individual situation.

 

We will be discussing intoxicants in the workplace at the SFA Employment Law Conference on 26 September in Cork and 10 October in Dublin. To book your place in Cork, please visit www.sfa.ie/0/empconfcork and to book your place in Dublin please visit www.sfa.ie/0/empconfdub

 

For further information on the disciplinary process or alcohol and drug testing in the workplace please contact Helen Quinn on helen.quinn@sfa.ie or 01 605 1668




Small business priorities for Budget 2019
 

The SFA Budget 2019 submission has been sent to the Minister of Finance and all TDs and Senators, outlining the key small business priorities for the coming year. The priority actions are in the areas of business costs, capital gains tax, self-employed tax credits and residential property construction.


Launching the Small Firms Association’s Budget 2019 submission, Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director, said: “Budget 2019 must focus on small businesses in Ireland and support this important sector to fulfil its potential. In doing so, the Government would reduce the risk on our economy from over reliance on foreign direct investment while seizing an important opportunity to future proof our economic model.

 

“The SFA is calling for a whole-of-government national Small Business Strategy, with a roadmap towards significant policy goals: increased productivity, export diversification etc. Immediate changes in Budget 2019 would support the achievement of these goals.”

 

Mr Spollen-Behrens stated: “Ireland’s competitiveness is under threat. Government must ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated by allowing business costs to become unsustainable in a period of economic growth. At a time when positivity among small businesses is at its lowest since the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, it is vital that no measures that impose additional costs on small companies are introduced.”

 

At 33%, Ireland has one of the highest rates of capital gains tax (CGT) amongst developed economies. The SFA is calling for a reduction in CGT to 20% across the board, to make investing in a business in Ireland more attractive. CGT represents only 1% of the Government’s tax revenue, so there is very little to lose by reducing the rate, but the benefits could be significant. The SFA is also calling for CGT Entrepreneur Relief to be extended to compete with the UK scheme.

 

Mr Spollen-Behrens concluded: “Supporting small businesses would mitigate some of Ireland’s current vulnerabilities and create a true entrepreneurial culture with benefits for entrepreneurs, employees and communities.”

 

Small business priorities for Budget 2019:

  1. Protect competitiveness by ensuring that Budget 2019 does not impose additional costs on small businesses
  2. Reduce the headline rate of CGT to 20% for all
  3. Increase the lifetime limit for CGT Entrepreneur Relief to €15 million
  4. Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1650 to equal the PAYE tax credit
  5. Introduce measures to boost the viability of residential property construction

 

The full SFA Budget 2019 submission can be found here. A summary newsletter version of the submission can be found here.

NSAI Annual Report highlights latest developments in standards for businesses
 

The NSAI Annual Report shows a growing body of standards in Ireland, with new developments in construction, health and safety management and medical devices, amongst others. It also contains reports on inspections in the taxi sector, petrol and diesel pumps and supermarket weighing scales.


  • NSAI Annual Report 2017 reveals 1,490 standards for businesses, communities and individuals were published last year, bringing the Irish standards catalogue to 23,000
  • Report also shows 270 petrol pumps and 30 taximeters failed initial inspections last year, while a Donegal fish processor was prosecuted for tampering with weighing scales

 

Irish experts are leading the way in creating global standards, working to develop some of the 1,490 carefully-designed guidelines published by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) last year in areas such as construction, medical devices, technology and food. According to the authority’s 2017 Annual Report, last year NSAI’s standards creators voted on the introduction of the world’s first Health and Safety Management standard and attended the first international meeting on blockchain standards in Sydney.

 

“Standards enhance competitiveness, build reputations, support national regulators, and deliver growth. NSAI is a strong and respected Irish voice on the world stage, fighting every day for Irish businesses and consumers to ensure that products and services are competitive, safe and fit for purpose,” said Geraldine Larkin, NSAI Chief Executive. “Our network of standards professionals is spread right across the country engaging and assisting local businesses to innovate, compete and trade in new markets.”

 

NSAI’s 2017 Annual Report also reveals that its Legal Metrology division inspected 14,763 measuring instruments used in trade last year, including 7,692 petrol and diesel pumps. Of those inspected, 270 were found to be dispensing fuel inaccurately and warnings were issued.

 

Of the 698 taximeters inspected for accuracy, 30 failed on first inspection while 322 supermarket scales were found to be weighing incorrectly out of the 4,580 inspected.

 

In addition, following an NSAI Legal Metrology inspection, a Donegal fish processing plant and a company director were fined €45,000 in total for tampering with weighing scales used to measure incoming fish catches.

 

With the continued strong growth in the construction sector, NSAI saw a rise in demand for its construction-related services in 2017. 

 

There were 646 construction products CE Mark audits carried out by NSAI staff, while the number of NSAI-registered insulation installers now stands at 226.

 

For further information, visit www.NSAI.ie or follow NSAI on Twitter @NSAI_Standards

Enterprise Ireland update on Brexit Tool Kit
 

Enterprise Ireland is one of the State agencies actively supporting Irish companies to respond to the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. Achieving market diversification is a priority for Enterprise Ireland.


Enterprise Ireland is one of the State agencies actively supporting Irish companies to respond to the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. Achieving market diversification is a priority for EI. Key initiatives include:


1. Brexit Advisory Clinics: Enterprise Ireland has launched its next series of nationwide Brexit Advisory Clinics advising Irish companies on the supports available to help them address their Brexit exposure. The clinics, which include one-to-one meetings with independent experts, will continue in Galway (Tuesday 2 October), Dundalk (Monday 22 October), Waterford (Thursday 8 November) and Limerick (Wednesday 21 November). Companies will be briefed on the broad implications of Brexit, specifically around customs, strategic sourcing, financial management, employment law and the movement of people.


2. Enterprise Ireland launched its Eurozone Strategy with the strategic ambition to increase Irish exports to the Eurozone by 50% to €6.15bn by 2020. Enterprise Ireland recently announced that its clients recorded export sales of €22.71bn in 2017, representing a 7% increase on 2016. Exports to the Eurozone region, which account for 20% of all exports, saw strong growth of 9% to €4.61bn in 2017. Enterprise Ireland supported 89 Irish companies to export to the Eurozone for the first time in 2017. In addition, close to 300 new contracts were secured for Irish companies in the Eurozone with Enterprise Ireland assistance.


3. Trade Missions – Enterprise Ireland will undertake over 200 international and domestic trade events by the end of 2018 to accelerate the number of clients diversifying into new markets, beyond the UK and into the Eurozone and global markets. The number of trade events being undertaken represents a 50% increase on 2017, reflecting the serious challenge that Brexit poses for Irish businesses.


4. New Market Discovery Fund – In support of the international trade event programme, EI has introduced the new Market Discovery Fund to support Enterprise Ireland backed companies when researching new markets for products and services. The new fund is designed to help companies of all sizes to meet the key challenges of market research. There are three levels of funding available to companies: up to €35,000, up to €75,000 and up to €150,000.


5. New Enterprise Ireland Brexit Unit established to support Irish companies to prepare for Brexit.


6. Prepare for Brexit information campaign launched in 2017, as part of a massive drive to support Irish companies to start preparing for Brexit now.


7. New fast track Agile Innovation Fund launched in 2017, gives companies rapid fast-track access to innovation funding; up to 50% in support for product, process or service development projects with a total cost of up to €300,000. The new measure has been introduced by Enterprise Ireland for companies to respond more quickly to market opportunities and challenges, including those posed by Brexit.


8. Rollout of the Irish Advantage Campaign. As a Brexit response, and as a key Eurozone Strategy initiative, Enterprise Ireland’s Irish Advantage campaign is targeted at European buyers with the aim of generating new business leads for Irish exporters.


9. Operational Excellence Offer – To further strengthen the supports to Irish businesses in the face of Brexit, Enterprise Ireland has just launched a new Operational Excellence Offer to enable Irish companies trading internationally to develop or transform their wider business in order to compete more effectively. The Operational Excellence Offer covers funding, capability building, and capital investment offers for companies trading internationally, to incentivise companies to address their needs across key aspects of their value chain and business operations; from supply chain management, internal business and production operations, and through to logistics and distribution networks

 

For more information, visit www.prepareforbrexit.com

 

SFA Affinity Scheme spotlight on..........
 

IrelandEAP, providing big EAP care solutions to the small firm’s environment.


This great offer includes access to all services and ‘Pay As You Go’ Clinical Care including


Telephone Support


Planned phased clinical care and support to manage all complex staff issues


Critical Incident Response Team


Clinical resources, support and protection


Seminars and webinars on all aspects of Employee Assistance

 

IrelandEAP has a full-time administration office with after-hours contact. All our psychotherapists nationwide are highly trained, experienced and all with different areas of expertise and specialisation.

 

To avail of this offer please click here 

EVENTS
Employee Assistance Programme, supporting you
 
  • 17 September, 10:30am, Webinar

Who should attend this webinar:

All managers, supervisors and business owners.

This webinar will outline the supports and services that are on offer within this EAP programme for both management and staff.  Focusing on the risk points, the dynamics of wellbeing and stress and the imperative of early effective intervention strategies.

We will present the kinds of resources that can support staff wellbeing in your business. We will look at where your Duty of Care obligations begin and end while still effectively managing issues like absenteeism, bullyingand stress amongst others.

It will address that difficult space between managing performance and managing wellbeing issues, a space that can be very challenging and stressful for management.

Managing the personal problems of their staff is reported as the most stressful aspect of work for managers.

We have 30 years of experience providing EAP’s and that gives us the confidence and competence to bring you through some of the more common issues and concerns.

Having a structured pro-active response mechanism in place that is protective of all staff and investment and backed up by top quality clinical care is core to the EAP model of workplace wellbeing that IrelandEAP offer.

To book this free webinar please click the following linkhttps://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7557979550734821635

 

SFA Employment Law Conference Cork
 
  • 26 September 2018,  Rochestown Park Hotel

Event details

SFA Employment Law Conference Cork- 26 September 2018

Date: 26th September 2018
Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Duration: 1 Day
Venue: Rochestown Park Hotel
Address: Rochestown Rd,
Douglas,
Co. Cork

Welcome address and WRC update

  • A year on – what impact has it had
  • Key changes
  • Challenges

Contracts

  • Best practice
  • Future of casual contracts & proposed banded hours
  • Legislation and contracts for service / gig economy

Probation and performance

  • The importance of managing the performance of new employees
  • Holding regular review meetings
  • Case law

All about absence

  • Why measurement is important
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Job solutions
  • The cost of absence to the employer
  • The role of the line manager
  • Mental illness and absence
  • Returning to work after a period of absence
  • Understand the current laws and case law in the area of absence management

5,4,3,2,1 – Top issues for 2018: Using case law and legal developments for

  • A case study on a sexual harassment issue
  • GDPR and the human element – a case of a rogue employee
  • The do’s and don’ts of managing workplace stress
  • Intoxicants in the workplace - a tale of two cases
  • Do you need an extreme weather policy?

Discipline and dismissal – an interactive session

  • Discipline – the process
  • The conversation – what to say and how to say it
  • Legislation in this area

Retirement

  • Pros and cons...4 ways to manage longer working

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Quelba Lima, Tel: +353 1 605 1619

SFA Employment Law Conference Dublin
 
  • 10 October 2018, Herbert Park Hotel

Event details

SFA Employment Law Conference Dublin - 10 October 2018

Welcome address and WRC update

  • A year on – what impact has it had
  • Key changes
  • Challenges

Contracts

  • Best practice
  • Future of casual contracts & proposed banded hours
  • Legislation and contracts for service / gig economy

Probation and performance

  • The importance of managing the performance of new employees
  • Holding regular review meetings
  • Case law

All about absence

  • Why measurement is important
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Job solutions
  • The cost of absence to the employer
  • The role of the line manager
  • Mental illness and absence
  • Returning to work after a period of absence
  • Understand the current laws and case law in the area of absence management

5,4,3,2,1 – Top issues for 2018: Using case law and legal developments for

  • A case study on a sexual harassment issue
  • GDPR and the human element – a case of a rogue employee
  • The do’s and don’ts of managing workplace stress
  • Intoxicants in the workplace - a tale of two cases
  • Do you need an extreme weather policy?

Discipline and dismissal – an interactive session

  • Discipline – the process
  • The conversation – what to say and how to say it
  • Legislation in this area

Retirement

  • Pros and cons....4 ways to manage longer working

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Quelba Lima, Tel: +353 1 605 1619

TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Safety Awareness for Managers
 

This one day Safety Awareness for Managers programme will provide managers an overview of their roles and responsibilities for the day-to-day practical concerns of integrating health and safety with operational management. 


This one day Safety Awareness for Managers programme will provide managers an overview of their roles and responsibilities for the day-to-day practical concerns of integrating health and safety with operational management. The course sets out to give participants the basic arrangements and provisions that need to be in place with regards to managing activities and to provide them with the key skills to be able to review and develop systems within their workplace.

Programme Outcomes:

On completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the principles and requirements of key health and safety legislation
  • Comprehend the principles of hazard identification and risk assessment
  • Identify the key elements and techniques ensuring the co-operation of all staff on health and safety
  • Understand the benefits, techniques and principles of controlling safety issues and arrangements
  • Recognise the benefits, techniques and principles of safety-performance monitoring
  • Appreciate the principles of accident management

Approach:

The programme is delivered by experienced Ibec Executives who provide members with advice, consultancy and training on a daily basis. Programme participants are encouraged to express their views and experiences. The programme facilitates participant discussion to ensure a thorough understanding of the key points and their application. Real life case studies and exercises will be used to ensure a real practical understanding of each topic.

Date: 10th September 2018
Time: 08:30 - 15:30
Duration: 1 Day
Venue: SFA Offices, Dublin 2
Member: €220.00

 

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Raquel de la Pena Sarrion, Phone: +353 1 605 1667