SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member, 

 

The Beast from the East and Storm Emma are now behind us and thanks to contingency plans and better preparation we did not experience the same level of accidents and injuries as with other bad weather events in the past. The financial damage to the economy and small business could, however, be in the hundreds of millions with commercial activities either disrupted or businesses closed entirely for at least two and a half days. It will be difficult, to say the least, to recuperate these losses.

Once again, an extreme weather phenomenon has highlighted the challenges that small businesses in Ireland have to face. A poor road and public transport infrastructure that is very vulnerable to bad weather is only one of the broader issues. The insufficient broadband coverage in Ireland outside of the bigger urban areas means that working from home in situations like that isn’t really an option. And whilst Project Ireland 2040 reads really well, government needs to act now and proceed with the procurement process for the National Broadband Plan. In relation to the ongoing issues around rising insurance costs, we will keep a close eye on how insurance companies will deal with the snow and flood related claims. Please contact us should you experience any difficulties, so we can raise the issues on your behalf at government level.

Climate change means that unfortunately we will experience more ‘Ophelias’ and ‘Beasts’ in the future. If you have not already done so, know is a good time to put in place an employer policy on absence due to bad/inclement weather or business crisis planning. The SFA has a sample inclement weather policy which businesses can avail of here.

 

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
 
  • Storm Emma / Beast from the East
  • SFA National Small Business Awards

 

Storm Emma

The SFA issued two press releases last week in relation to Storm Emma

Last week also saw plenty of coverage for SFA in light of Storm Emma.

 

This was covered in:

 

SFA Director, Sven Spollen–Behrens was interviewed in relation to Storm Emma on:

  • Drivetime, RTE Radio 1 – 28 February                                                       
  • Nine til Noon Show, Highland Radio – 05 March   

SFA National Small Business Awards 

 

There was also coverage in The Meath Chronicle for the overall winner of the SFA National Small Business Awards – Briody Bedding

NEWS
Data Protection Commissioner report reveals data protection complaints up by 79%
 

This week we pause our weekly GDPR tip to announce some key highlights from the 2017 Data Protection Annual Report. Read on to check out the highlights along with Helen Dixon’s message in relation to GDPR.


The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) launched their 2017 Annual Report last week. Some of the main highlights from the report include the following:

  1. The total number of complaints increased by 79% from 2016 to 2017.
  2. Of those complaints, data access rights made up 52% of the total complaints received in 2017.
  3. The DPC received 2,795 valid data security breaches. This is an increase of 26% since 2016.
  4. The DPC’s Special Investigations Unit continued its work in the private investigator sector which resulted in several prosecutions.
  5. The DPC started their investigations into the hospital sector on the processing of patient data, on Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) with regards to the governance of personal data on their child protection cases and on the Public Services Card by the Department of Employment and Social Protection;
  6. The DPC budget has increased significantly. In 2017 it rose to €7.5 million and in 2018 it will further increase to €11.7 million. This makes the DPC one of the most highly-resourced data protection authorities in the EU.
  7. The DPC set up a dedicated GDPR Awareness and Training Unit and this included their website www.GDPRandYou.ie which assists organisations in their GDPR preparations. 

In relation to GDPR, Helen Dixon, the Data Protection Commissioner, had the following message: “the GDPR’s focus is on demanding accountability from organisations in how they collect and process personal data. The best results for data subjects are secured when organisations of all types deliver on their obligations to be fair and transparent. We firmly believe that organisations should see the GDPR as an opportunity rather than a challenge and that those who can demonstrate a true commitment to data protection will be rewarded in the marketplace for their services.”

 

The report includes several case studies that highlight a variety of data protection issues that occurred in 2017. These include cases on the right to be forgotten, loss of sensitive data, using CCTV footage in a disciplinary process and marketing offences. The case studies are useful guides that can help businesses avoid or follow best practise in how they manage their data and we share one of these cases in our HR article this week.

 

The report can be read in full here

 

In the meantime you can avail of the GDPR toolkit to conduct your GDPR audit from the SFA website which you can download here.

 

If you would like more information on GDPR or to discuss your requirements further please contact Helen at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our GDPR section on http://www.sfa.ie/advice

Queries to SFA highlight 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, next 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, next 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

A case of CCTV footage and a disciplinary issue
 

This week we look at a case study in the 2017 Data Protection Commissioner Annual Report. It looks at the use of CCTV footage in a disciplinary process. Read on and learn from this example of what to do when the privacy rights of an employee clashes with the legitimate interests of a business…


In the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) Annual report one case study looks at the use of CCTV footage in a disciplinary process. The DPC were contacted by an individual who complained that their employer used CCTV footage as part of the disciplinary process which led to their dismissal. They said that this was a breach of their personal privacy and they were not given prior notice that CCTV footage could be used as part of the disciplinary process. The DPC conducted an investigation.

 

Background

The individual was employed as a security officer. They were responsible for monitoring the CCTV system in a control room and safeguarding the client’s premises. This was the specific purpose of their contract of employment. The employee had been asked to read a set of ‘Standing Operating Procedures’ (SOP) which indicated that CCTV footage could be used in an investigative process and the employee was asked to sign a document to confirm that they had read and understood the responsibilities of their role.

 

As part of the contract with the client, the business was required to conduct routine audits of employee access cards. Whilst conducting one of these audits, the business spotted data irregularities in relation to the employee concerned. The data on their card differed from the employee’s fellow night officers’ and these irregularities did not arise from technical glitches. As a result of a further investigation, they identified that the employee had been absent from the control room for prolonged periods of time on several separate occasions.

 

When they invited the employee into an investigation meeting to give their version of events, the employee disputed the accuracy of the access card. The business felt it had no option but to obtain CCTV stills as it was the only independent way to verify the access card data. At a later stage in the investigation, the employee admitted that they had left the control room to go into another room to lie down so that they could get relief from back pain.

 

Based on the evidence of the employee’s access card, the CCTV footage and the investigative meetings with the employee, the employee was subsequently disciplined and dismissed from their role.

 

Data Protection Commissioner findings

The DPC spoke to both parties to see if the business had breached the privacy rights of the employee. The business advised that they had a legitimate interest to process the personal data from the CCTV footage which was based on a contractual obligation to ensure the client’s premises was properly safeguarded. If an adverse incident occurred due to a prolonged absence of the assigned security officer from the control room, this could leave the company exposed to a breach of contract. In addition, this would cause significant financial and reputational consequences for the business.

 

Under the Data Protection Act, a data controller can process an individual’s personal data on the basis of legitimate interest if the following conditions are met:

• there must be a legitimate interest justifying the processing;

• the processing of personal data must be necessary for the realisation of the legitimate interest;

• the legitimate interest must prevail over the rights and interests of the data subject.

 

The DPC were satisfied that the business had a legitimate interest for using the CCTV footage to investigate and verify if the employee had been absent for prolonged periods. They saw that the use of the CCTV footage was necessary and proportionate due to the seriousness of the allegation as it was the only independent method of verifying the accuracy of the access card data. They factored in the potential risk of damage to the business’s reputation and the need to ensure the security of its client’s premises. Based on these factors, the DPC found in favour of the business. In this case, the right to use CCTV footage took precedence over the employee’s right to privacy. Finally, the DPC were satisfied that the employee had received adequate notice that CCTV footage may be used for disciplinary procedures if necessary.

 

Key takeaways

  • Businesses should document the purpose for using CCTV footage.
  • If they wish to rely on CCTV footage as evidence for a disciplinary investigation, they need to make this transparent to all employees.
  • Businesses could take an additional step and ask employees to sign a declaration that they have read and understood their policy on the use of CCTV footage.

The monitoring of employees through workplace CCTV needs to be treated with caution. Whilst an employer has a legitimate interest in protecting the business through monitoring, a balance is needed between the legitimate rights of employers and the personal privacy rights of its employees. Before making the decision to monitor or use CCTV as a disciplinary tool, an employer should assess whether the same objectives can be achieved through other means first. Any monitoring activity should be transparent to workers, communicated to them and the use of monitoring needs to be fair and proportionate.

 

If you would like more information on putting together a CCTV policy or have 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 

 

Cork named most business-friendly small European city
 

Cork has been named the best small city in Europe for business friendliness by the Financial Times’ fDi magazine. The magazine also ranked Cork as one of the overall top 25 European cities of the future 2018/19, coming in above global cities such as Copenhagen, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Zurich.


Published every two years, fDi’s European Cities and Regions of the Future presents a league table of the most attractive locations in Europe for inward investment.

 

Cork was also included in the top ten small European cities for economic potential, top 10 small northern cities and overall top 10 small cities. The South West region was also ranked 8th in European small regions of the future.  European Cities and Regions of the Future are determined using data across 489 locations. The “small city” category covers cities with an immediate city population of 100,000 to 350,000.

 

Responding, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald said: “We are delighted to be ranked the best small city in Europe for business friendliness, and to see Cork’s continued strength in the fDi rankings. Cork is proud of its remarkable FDI success. Global giants including Apple, Intel, Boston Scientific, BNY Mellon and Huawei have significant and established operations in Cork. We’re also attracting a new wave of leading investors in highly active sectors such as cyber, tech and pharma.”

 

On 21 March the SFA will hold a ‘GDPR in action’ workshop in Cork as part of the Business Bytes networking and training series. You can register for this event here.

Looking to attract investment? Understanding the EIIS could help
 

Spotlight on the Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme (EIIS), which provides tax relief on investments in small companies. This article provides information on the scheme and advice on how to avail of it.


There are over 80 different government supports available to small businesses but many of them are not well known or understood. Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different support that could improve your business, giving you information and advice.

 

Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme (EIIS)

 

What?            

Tax relief for individuals of up to 40% on investment in small and medium size enterprises up to €150,000 per year to 2020. Relief is initially available at up to 30%; up to a further 10% can be claimed after four years if employment levels in the company have increased or where the company used the capital raised for R&D.

 

The maximum amount that can be raised by a company through the EIIS is €15m over the lifetime of the company and €5m in any 12 month period.

 

The EIIS replaced the Business Expansion Scheme (BES). 

          

Why? 

The aim of the scheme is to increase investment in SMEs by providing an incentive to investors. It focuses particularly on companies providing employment and/or engaging in R&D.

 

How?

The EIIS is administered by the Revenue Commissioners. The first steps should be completed by the company – the investors can only claim the relief once they receive their certificate of relief through the company.

 

Before any claim is made, the business can apply for Outline Approval for an initial indication of whether they qualify as an EIIS company. This is done by filling in an EII Outline form and adjoining the company’s certificate of incorporation.

 

A claim can be made once the company is trading (or where the company is not yet trading, once the company has expended 30% of the funds raised on R&D activities with a view to trading). Claims can be emailed to eiiadmin@revenue.ie and should consist of:

  • Form EII 1, completed by the Company Secretary
  • A copy of the company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Approval from Fáilte Ireland if the company is carrying on Tourist Traffic Undertakings

If approved, the company will receive certificates of relief for the individual investors. The investors should then claim the relief from their local tax office.

 

More information is available on the Revenue website and through accountants, stockbrokers and professional services firms.

 

Tips               

If you are interested in applying, don’t forget:

  • Micro, small and medium enterprises, whether start-ups or established businesses in any part of the State can qualify for the EIIS. Previous restrictions have been lifted.
  • Nursing homes were brought into the scheme in Budget 2016. Internationally Traded Financial Services now also qualify, subject to certification by Enterprise Ireland.
  • The company must be unquoted and investors must purchase new ordinary share capital in the company (which carry no preferential rights).
  • Employees and directors may invest in their company subject to additional rules. Individuals can invest in companies owned or run by family members.
  • The shares must be held for at least four years if the investor is to benefit from the full relief.
  • A company that is wound up or dissolved during the four-year period will not be disqualified as long as it can be shown that it is for bona fide commercial reasons.
Major pensions changes flagged in ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform’
 

On 28 February, the Government published the ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023’. The roadmap contains plans that will have significant implications for small business. The Small Firms Association has lobbied on these issues for decades and this lobbying will now intensify.

 


On 28 February, the Government published the ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023’, which aims to “modernise the Irish pensions system while continuing to target resources at those most in need”.

 

There are six strands to the roadmap:

  1. Reform of the State Pension
  2. Building Retirement Readiness – A New Automatic Enrolment Savings System
  3. Improving Governance and Regulation
  4. Measures to Support the Operation of Defined Benefit Schemes
  5. Public Service Pension Reform
  6. Supporting Fuller Working Lives

Strands 2 and 6 are those which are likely to have the most direct effect on employers.

 

Strand 2: Building Retirement Readiness – A New Automatic Enrolment Savings System

 

By 2022, the Government proposes to develop and begin implementation of a State-sponsored supplementary retirement savings system in which workers will be automatically enrolled.

 

The design parameters of this system (including target membership, the contribution rates, the financial incentives, the policy for opt-out and re-enrolment and the policy for contribution holidays) are yet to be defined, but the roadmap clearly states that contributions will be made by both workers and employers with a top up from the State. Self-employed people will have the option to participate.

 

By Q2 2018 the Government intends to publish a ‘strawman’ automatic enrolment system for public consultation. The example given of the contributions that may be proposed in the strawman system is that “employers could be asked to match worker contributions euro for euro subject to an eventual upper limit on employer contributions of 6% of gross salary”, with the State providing a 2% top up.

 

Strand 6: Supporting Fuller Working Lives

 

In August 2016 the Government published the Report of the Interdepartmental Group on Fuller Working Lives, which dealt with this area in detail. The roadmap reiterates the findings of the earlier report and clarifies how they will be integrated into the proposed pensions reforms, with the aim of making Ireland a society that supports older peoples’ continued engagement in economic and social life.

 

One aspect of this is the development of proposals for a State pension deferral scheme.

 

Regarding retirement age in the private sector, the roadmap states that “any widespread practice which sees the continuation of any prevailing mandatory retirement age of 65 would be inconsistent with strategies to remove obstacles to working to an older age”. Consequently, employment practice in this area will be kept under close review and “should it appear that these provisions are not resulting in improved flexibility for workers, by the end of 2018 the Government will consider the merits of restricting the capacity to use mandatory retirement provisions relative to the prevailing State pension age”.

 

Next steps

 

The roadmap contains plans that will have significant implications for small business. The Small Firms Association has lobbied on these issues for decades and this lobbying will now intensify. Members will be asked for input once the automatic enrolment consultation opens but if you would like to share your views and concerns at this point please contact Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, on 01 605 1626 or linda.barry@sfa.ie.

 

The full ‘Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023’ is available here.

EVENTS
SFA GDPR in Action workshop
 
  • 9 March, SFA offices

This practical and interactive GDPR workshop will use three case studies to explore GDPR in the context of understanding the elements of a data retention policy, how to plan for a data access request, consent in the context of marketing and creating a contingency plan for a data breach.

Agenda

Registration

Introduction

Launch of SFA GDPR publication for SMEs

Practical Session 1: GDPR & HR records

Practical Session 2: GDPR & marketing - managing consent

Practical Session 3: Data breaches: what to do?

Q & A

 

Attendees at the event will receive a free copy of the SFA GDPR publication for SMEs which will be launched on the day.

Places are limited to one person per company due to limited space availability so book now to avoid disappointment.

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

TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Manual Handling and other upcoming training courses
 

Manual handling is an essential element of the day-to-day work of many small businesses. This half-day course 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.

 

Manual Handling in Small Firms

 

This course is designed for workers who need to be trained to safely move and handle inanimate objects under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work 2005 and Manual Handling Regulations 1993 and 2007.

 

Topics include:

  • Manual handling legislation
  • Anatomy of the spine
  • Common back injuries
  • Biomechanics of manual handling
  • Manual handling risk assessment
  • Safe lifting techniques and practice
  • Dealing with unfamiliar loads
  • Importance of PPE and appropriate clothing
  • Manual handling assessment
  • Backcare in everyday life

 

Date: 6 April 2018

Time: 8.30am-12.30pm

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

Cost: €150 (SFA member rate)

 

Book here.   

 

Other upcoming courses

  • Employment Law: Discipline and Dismissal (one-day course, 16 March)
  • Safety Awareness for Managers (one-day course, 27 March)
  • Foundations in Management (two-day course, 12-13 April)

All courses are charged at €220 (one day) or €400 (two days) 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.