SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member, 

 

Last week saw the launch of the SFA GDPR publication, ‘Mind your business: Prepare for GDPR’, a simple and straightforward guide to getting your business ready for GDPR.  If you are still unsure or have any questions about GDPR we have our 'GDPR in Action event in Cork on the 21 March. We recommend that you attend this, its free of charge and will be very useful to you.

 

Our GDPR publication launch coincided with our GDPR in Action event in Dublin. It was opened by Dale Sunderland, Deputy Commissioner, of the Data Protection Commission, who spoke to the pack-filled room about the importance of your company being GDPR ready for May.

 

In this newsletter we have a review of the latest Banking and Payments Federation SME Market Monitor, as well as a new guidance note from the Credit Review Office.

 

We have an interesting HR article looking at the dos and don’ts of redundancy.  Our Business Bytes event, takies place on Wednesday at SFA HQ, and looks at the life cycle of working, from probation to absence and the impact of longer working on business.  All of these topics are key to our members so I would encourage you to register for this FREE event today.

 

Have a safe, long weekend and if you have any queries relating to staff working on public holidays make sure to read our helpful FAQ’s.

 

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


SFA IN THE MEDIA
SFA in the media
 
  • SFA GDPR publication
  • Storm Emma / Beast from the East
  • SFA National Small Business Awards

GDPR Readiness

SFA issued a press release relating to the findings from our GDPR survey

Over the weekend there was coverage of our new GDPR publication on;

Storm Emma

There was still plenty of coverage for SFA in light of Storm Emma and the impact on businesses

  • Evening Echo (Cork) - 06 March
  • The Irish Examiner - 06 March
  • Irish Independent - 07 March
  • Connacht Tribune - 08 March
  • Galway Times Tribune - 09 March 
  • Connacht Tribune - 09 March 

SFA National Small Business Awards 

There was also coverage in New Ross Standard and Gorey Guardian for Courtown Adventure and Leisure Centre, who winner in the Sustainable Energy Catergory at the SFA National Small Business Awards.

NEWS
SFA launch new GDPR publication
 

Friday 9 March saw the launch of the new SFA GDPR publication, ‘Mind your business: Prepare for GDPR’. There to help us launch the publication was Dale Sunderland, Deputy Commissioner at the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.


Last Friday saw a great turnout of our members as they all received a copy of our new GDPR publication, ‘Mind your business: Prepare for GDPR’. 

 

With this publication the SFA, as a membership organisation and a service provider, is responding to the needs of the small business sector in Ireland. The publication gives practical guidance on how your business can get GDPR-ready. With the help of four case studies, we provide you with a step-by-step guide to GDPR. 

Addressing the launch event, Dale Sunderland recognised the more challenging position for small business adapting to GDPR as they often have to act as manager, board and employee.

 

The morning then had three thematic sessions: GDPR and HR; GDPR and marketing: managing consent; and Data breaches: what to do.

The first session was conducted by Fleur O’Shea from ByrneWallace, the second was delivered by Helen Quinn, SFA and the final session was with Gerard Joyce from CalQRisk.  All speakers at the event made sure that the information was interesting, relevant and constructive for the audience.

 

Our new publication is available on our website through the membership portal.  If you would like more information on GDPR or to discuss your requirements further, please contact Helen at SFA on 01 6051668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our GDPR section on www.sfa.ie/advice.

 

Redundancy process - the dos and don'ts
 

Read on to learn about the dos and don’ts for a redundancy process. Learn the importance of selecting and consulting with staff and what other options you could consider instead of redundancy…


One of the top ten queries that SFA receive from its members is the issue of redundancy. These include queries on the redundancy selection process, how best to inform employees and what are the redundancy entitlements for employees.

 

This week’s article will focus on the dos and don’ts of selecting and consulting with the employees in relation to redundancy. This will ensure that best practice is carried out. These tips could potentially protect businesses from receiving a claim.

 

The case of Michael Walsh v Direct Sportswear Limited UD366/2015 highlights the importance for employers in following an objective and fair redundancy procedure. In this case, the Tribunal held that the employee was unfairly selected for redundancy and they awarded the employee an additional €20,000 on top of the redundancy payment they already received for the unfair selection.

 

Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015, redundancy is considered a fair ground for dismissal but the onus is on the employer to prove that a genuine redundancy took place and that the process and selection criteria used were fair and reasonable. 

 

Below are some of the key steps that an employer should take to ensure that a fair redundancy process is implemented:

  • Engage with employees at an early stage regarding any proposed redundancies, explaining the reason for making the role redundant and getting agreement on the selection method that will be used for the redundancy process
  • Redundancy is a difficult process and should be the last resort. Consider all other alternatives before issuing any compulsory redundancies. These alternatives could be reduced hours, lay off, voluntary redundancy and so forth.
  • Consider redeployment to alternative positions that might be available within the business, if any
  • Consider any proposals put forward by the employee(s) concerned and explore these fully with the employee
  • Give the employee(s) a right to apply for and to be considered for any new roles being created
  • Ensure notes are taken at each meeting and request that the employee(s) sign these to confirm they are an accurate reflection of the items discussed
  • Give the employee(s) an option to be accompanied at the meetings
  • Consider offering a right to appeal the redundancy decision

For further information on redundancy, check out the useful guideline available on the SFA website or check out our webinar on redundancy here.

 

If you would like more information on the redundancy process or any other HR issues your business may have, please contact Helen at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit the advice section on our website www.sfa.ie/advice

 

New guidance shows pitfalls of using own working capital for capital projects
 

75% of Irish firms are using internal funds to finance their investment activities. A new guidance note from the Credit Review Office highlights some pitfalls in pursuing this option and the risks to consider at the outset of the project.


75% of Irish firms are using internal funds to finance their investment activities, according to a European Investment Bank survey. This is well above the EU average of 60%.

 

The Credit Review Office has issued a guidance note for small firms that are considering using ‘own funds’ to finance an investment project. The note acknowledges that self-funding is the cheapest form of finance available to businesses and should be considered. It highlights, however, some pitfalls in pursuing this option and the risks to consider at the outset of the project.

 

The guidance note, ‘Funding a Capital Project from “Own Funds” or Working Capital – SMEs’, is available on the Credit Review Office here.

More information about the Credit Review Office is available on the SFA website here or you can visit the Credit Review Office website at www.creditreview.ie. A separate piece of research is being carried out by the Credit Review Office to explore whether changes in banks’ physical distribution networks are adversely affecting demand for credit.

 

Members may also be interested in the Credit Review Office’s guidance note for SMEs who have had their loans sold to another lender, which is available here.

New SME Market Monitor published
 

The consistent improvement in the SME environment is evident from the positive developments in almost all of the indicators tracked in the monitor.

 


According to the latest Banking and Payments Federation (BPFI) SME Market Monitor, the upward trajectory of the Irish economy seems to have made consumers and manufacturers more confident. Although the outturn of Phase 2 of Brexit negotiations and changes in US tax policies may disrupt this growth, the SME environment remains considerably positive with policy announcements such as the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the National Development Plan (NDP) offering further opportunities for Irish enterprises, including SMEs. Given that the NDP commits €116 billion to upgrading the State’s infrastructure over ten years, SMEs should benefit either directly in the contracting phase, or indirectly from the provision of goods and services to firms directly involved in the delivery of projects.

 

The consistent improvement in the SME environment is evident from the positive developments in almost all of the indicators tracked in the monitor.

 

According to the latest KBC/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index, consumer confidence fell back in February 2018 from its highest level in seventeen years but the January results likely reflected seasonal factors and it was still higher than at any point in Q4 2017. The latest results reflect an improving economy but modest income growth. Indeed, weekly earnings grew by only 2% year-on-year (YoY) in Q4 2017, while earnings in businesses employing few than 50 people fell by 3.8% YoY.

 

According to the Q3 2017 Labour Force Survey, employment rose to 2.2 million, implying that total employment is now at its highest level since Q3 2008. In Q3 2017, total disposable income rose to €25.8 billion, while in the year to Q3 2017, total disposable income amounted to €76.4 billion, up 5.4% or €3.9 billion on the corresponding period in 2016.

 

Continuous increases in disposable income and employment throughout 2017 have positively affected retail sales. The Retail Sales Index, with or without the motor trade, registered annual increases in 2017 equivalent to 4.3% for all retail businesses and 7% when motor trades are excluded. With the exception of motor trades, all retail sectors experienced an increase in sales relative to 2016, with the highest seen in furniture and lighting (+15.8%), electrical goods (+11.7%) and pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic articles (+6.4%).

 

A total of 2.58 million overseas tourists came to Ireland in Q4 2017, representing a notable increase of 5% on the previous quarter, while annual growth was also up by 6.2%. For the year as a whole, 9.94 million tourists visited Ireland, an increase of 3.5% on 2016. For the first time since the Brexit referendum result, the number of visitors coming from Great Britain registered quarterly and yearly growth of 5.4% and 0.8% respectively. While this is good news for SMEs such as hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés, Brexit and the subsequent weak value of the Sterling have had an immediate impact on the Irish agricultural sector.

 

The level of debt accumulated by Irish SMEs continued to fall, reaching €12.5 billion in Q3 2017. This represented a decline of €1.7 billion or 11.9% YoY. Furthermore, the opening nine months of 2017 saw total new lending to SMEs rise to €1.97 billion, up 13% or €227 million on the corresponding period in 2016.

 

In summary, the Irish economy continues to grow strongly, with notable improvements in employment, production and consumption. Although this could change in the medium term, depending on the outcome of global risks, government infrastructure programmes from the NPF and the NDP should offer further opportunities to SMEs across the country. The BPFI SME Market Monitor can be downloaded here.

Useful videos for companies interested in public procurement
 

Any company involved in bidding for public contracts or considering entering this market should check out a new series of videos from the Office of Government Procurement.


Any company involved in bidding for public contracts or considering entering this market should check out a new series of videos from the Office of Government Procurement.

The series consists of two types of content:

  • Infographic videos outlining the procurement process:
    • Introduction to procurement in Ireland
    • The public procurement model in Ireland
    • Types of procurement process

 

  • Small business case study videos:
    • Heaney Meats
    • Eciffo
    • De Siun Architects

These videos are a useful new resource. The case studies in particular shine a light on areas such as consortium bidding, which may be useful to you as you plan your approach to public procurement opportunities.

 

The videos are available on the Office of Government Procurement YouTube channel.

For more information about public procurement, or to raise any issues, contact Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, on 01 6051626 or linda.barry@sfa.ie.

Last chance to book - challenges around probation, absence and retirement in member companies
 

The SFA is concerned that there are many misconceptions around probation among member companies. For this reason, this week’s Business Bytes seminar will show you how to manage a difficult probation, ensuring that you do not fall foul of employment law. The seminar will also cover absence management/sick leave as this was the number one query from SFA members in both January and February this year.


The SFA is concerned that there are many misconceptions around probation among member companies. For this reason, this week’s Business Bytes seminar will show you how to manage a difficult probation, ensuring that you do not fall foul of employment law.  

 

The seminar will also cover absence management/sick leave as this was the number one query from SFA members in both January and February this year. This can become an issue at any point in an employment relationship and may have a variety of root causes. It is important to deal properly with absence to ensure that it does not become a larger problem for the business. 

Retirement is another area that many members need support with, due to recent changes and a policy shift in favour of longer working lives. The Business Bytes seminar will provide guidance on what all of this means in relation to managing workers nearing retirement age. 

This seminar is not to be missed if you are an owner-manager or HR manager in a small firm and want to prepare yourself to handle three of the issues most frequently raised by SFA members. The seminar will present practical case studies that you can apply to the day-to-day operation of your business.

 

The presentation will be delivered by Helen Quinn, SFA HR and employment law advisor. It is a great opportunity to meet Helen in person. During the Q&A, she will be able to expand the scope to answer other HR queries that you may have.

 

Seminar details:

 

Title: HR update 2018: From beginnings to endings and HR in the middle

Topics: Probation, absence, retirement

Date: Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Time: Registration from 5:30, with the presentations kicking off at 6pm sharp and lasting approx. one hour.

Venue: SFA/Ibec offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Cost: Free of charge

 

Register HERE

 

The Business Bytes series is supported by Bord Gáis Energy. The event is free of charge but you must pre-register

EVENTS
Last chance to book - HR update 2018
 
  • 14 March, SFA offices

The SFA Business Bytes events, which are entirely free of charge, offer small businesses access to expert information and advice and an opportunity to network with their peers. The series is supported by Bord Gáis Energy.

  • Would you like the know-how to manage a difficult probation?
  • Learn the key steps to effective absence management?
  • Gain guidance on what longer working means in relation to workers nearing retirement age?

At this Business Bytes event we will equip you to manage probation, absence and retirement using practical case studies that you can apply to the day-to-day operation of your business.

This event is not to be missed if you are an owner-manager or HR manager in a small firm and want to equip yourself to handle three of the issues most frequently raised by SFA members.

The presentation will be delivered by Helen Quinn, the SFA’s HR and employment law advisor.

The event is open to SFA members and non-members. It will last for approximately one hour with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.

This event is entirely free of charge but you must pre-register.

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser: Briana McTiernan, Tel: +353 1 605 1622

GDPR in action – Cork
 
  • 21 March,  Maryborough Hotel

 


The SFA Business Bytes events, which are entirely free of charge, offer small businesses access to expert information and advice and an opportunity to network with their peers. The series is supported by Bord Gáis Energy.

Calling all small businesses in the Cork area! The SFA GDPR seminar is coming to town.

Everywhere you go GDPR is on the news and in the papers but companies struggle to know where to begin and how to start their GDPR action plans. In this Business Bytes event we will share the following to help your business kick start its GDPR action plan:

  1. General overview of GDPR 
  2. Recording your data: what to keep and what not to keep?
  3. The six legal bases for processing personal data
  4. The main legal bases for processing sensitive data
  5. GDPR in action: we will briefly look at the areas of GDPR and HR records and GDPR and marketing on the issue of consent

The event will close with plenty of time for the Q&A session.

The presentation will be delivered by Helen Quinn, the SFA’s in-house GDPR advisor.

The event is open to SFA members and non-members. It will last for approximately one hour with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.

This event is entirely free of charge but you must pre-register.

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Briana McTiernan, Tel: +353 1 605 1622

SFA Annual Conference
 
  • 24 May, UCD Science Centre

The Small Firms Association is the trusted partner of over 8,500 small firms in Ireland. The SFA Annual Conference is our flagship event and helps small business owners and managers to keep up to date with the latest trends in HR, management and innovation provides an opportunity to come together to make connections and learn from each other’s experiences.

We  will see 300 entrepreneurs, owner-managers, policy makers and media gather together to explore how to create competitive advantage in the current economic and business environment. A mix of keynote addresses and panel discussions will focus on how small businesses can stay competitive, gain access to and retain talent and GDPR.

To book your place please click here.

TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Discipline and Dismissal and other upcoming training courses
 

Employment Law: Discipline and Dismissal is just one of the SFA training courses coming up as part of our ‘Training that counts’ suite. All programmes are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience.


At SFA, we’re here to help you create time for things that can make a real difference to your business, like developing management capacity and other skills for you and your staff.

 

There are a number of courses coming up as part of our ‘Training that counts’ suite of training programmes that may be of interest to you. They are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience.

 

Employment Law: Discipline and Dismissal

 

This one-day programme gives managers the skills and competencies to deal confidently and effectively with disciplinary issues, up to and including dismissal. Topics include managing absence, fair procedures and natural justice, and the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

 

Date: 16 March 2018

Time: 8.30am-3.30pm

Venue: SFA/Ibec offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Cost: €220 (SFA member rate)

 

To book: http://www.sfa.ie/0/ELdiscipline  

 

Other upcoming courses

 

  • Safety Awareness for Managers (one-day course, 27 March)
  • Manual Handling (half-day course, 6 April)
  • Foundations in Management (two-day course, 12-13 April)
  • Finance and Accounting Made Easy (one-day course, 20 April)
  • Performance Management and Appraisal Skills (one-day course, 27 April)

 

Half-day courses are charged at €150, one-day courses €220 and two-day courses €400 for SFA members and can be booked at http://www.sfa.ie/events

 

If you would like any more information please contact Quelba Lima in the Ibec Training Unit on quelba.lima@ibec.ie or 01 605 1619.