Recent press coverage
- Small Business Saturday
- Sue O'Neill re-elected as SFA Chair
Small Business Saturday
The SFA issued a press release on 28 November calling on Christmas shoppers to spend locally on 1 December, Small Business Saturday. This was covered in:
SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens was interviewed on the topic on:
- RTE Radio Drivetime - 29 November
- Regional Radio North West - 30 November
- Today FM's The Last Word - 30 November
- Newstalk News - 1 December
- KFM - 3 December
- Q102 - 4 December
Sue O'Neill re-elected as SFA Chair
The SFA issued a press release on 29 November announcing Sue O’Neill's re-election as Chair of the Small Firms Association by the SFA National Council, for a 2-year term. This was covered in the Irish Examiner and the Irish Independent on 30 November.
Finalists announced in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019
38 companies have been selected as finalists, from 14 different counties, across 8 categories in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019...
- Finalists announced in the “SFA National Small Business Awards 2019”
- An Taoiseach says small firms make an important contribution to their local communities and our economy
The finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019 have been officially announced by Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair and Chair of the SFA Awards Judging Panel. The aim of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of small business in Ireland, and to recognise the vital contribution of the small business sector to Irish industry.
“The response to the awards programme serves as a reminder that Irish small companies are resilient, putting their best foot forward and seeking recognition for their efforts” commented Sue O’Neill. “As well as our seven award categories we also feature five of the best Emerging New Businesses (less than two years established) and I must say that given the quality of the businesses represented this year, entrepreneurship is alive and well in Ireland.
“The SFA National Small Business Awards are now entering their fifteenth year and are a celebration of the achievements of the 245,000 small firms in Ireland, who collectively employ 700,000 people, half the private sector workforce. The Awards aim to promote excellence, achievement and innovation amongst small businesses in all sectors and parts of the country. The companies that have been announced as finalists this year represent all that is good about small business” said O’Neill.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, who is Patron of the Awards, stated that: “The SME sector is crucial to the success of the Irish economy making a huge contribution to jobs and economic growth. Each of these jobs is the result of enterprising and determined people who have turned ideas into businesses, creating employment and injecting life into our cities, towns and villages. These owner managers and their employees work incredibly hard and make an important contribution to their local communities and our economy. The SFA National Small Business Awards are a great way to showcase the many success stories. They provide a fantastic opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of small firms across the different sectors.”
38 companies have been selected as finalists, from 14 different counties, across 8 categories.
MANUFACTURING CATEGORY FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Bord Gais Energy:
- Big Red Barn
- Blueacre Technology
- Mahon Windows
- Connexicon Medical
- Blanco Niňo
FOOD & DRINK CATEGORY FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Bord Bia:
- Airport View Hotel and Secret Spa
- Arctic Stone Ice Cream
- Blanco Niňo
- Fenit Fruit & Veg
- Revive Active
- The Foods of Athenry
SERVICES CATEGORY FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Three:
- Company Bureau Formations
- Contracting PLUS
- Enviroguide Consulting
- FRS Training
- ICON Accounting
- Ryan's Pharmacy
OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS FINALISTS (up to five employees), sponsored by One4All:
- GB Innovation
- Horan Automation and Consulting
- NP Liquid Glass Systems
- Pop Up Races
- SME Sales
- Trefoil Controls
INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by permanent tsb:
- NVP Energy
- Oriel Marine Extracts
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland:
- M & C Hyvrid Energy
- M50 Concession
- NVP Energy
- KORE Insulation
EXPORTER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS (up to 50 employees), sponsored by Enterprise Ireland:
- Blanco Niňo
- Blueacre Technology
- Connexicon Medical
- Prodigy Learning
EMERGING NEW BUSINESSES (up to 50 employees and under 2 years in business), sponsored by IE Domain Registry:
- Get the Shifts
- The UX Studio
The Awards prize package for ALL finalists includes participation in the SFA Business Connect event in February, a strategic management masterclass weekend, as well as broad-ranging national and local media coverage, all valued at €50,000. Finalists also receive five complementary tickets to the gala prize giving ceremony which will take place in the RDS in February 2019 when the category winners and overall winner will be announced.
The category winners will be presented with a trophy and free membership of the Small Firms Association for one year. The overall winner will also receive a bursary of €5,000 to present to a charity of their choice (funded by the 2013 Overall Winner, Megazyme International Ireland).
Full details are on the SFA Awards website or follow us on Twitter: @SFA_Irl #SFAAwards2019
Sue O’Neill re-elected as Chair of the Small Firms Association
The SFA is pleased to announce that Sue O’Neill has been re-elected as Chair by the SFA National Council, for a 2-year term. Sue O’Neill has served as the Association’s Chair since 2016...
The SFA is pleased to announce that Sue O’Neill has been re-elected as Chair by the SFA National Council, for a 2-year term. Sue O’Neill has served as the Association’s Chair since 2016.
Her key priority for her new term will be to lobby Government for the introduction and implementation of a National Small Business Strategy for Ireland. This initiative is calling on Government to target the development of small business across all regions with just as much energy and strategic focus as they have put on attracting FDI from the 1950s to the present day.
She will urge Government to safeguard small firms against rising business costs and the erosion of competitiveness and will remain focused on preparing members for the opportunities and risks to their businesses from Brexit. In addition, she will continue to raise concerns about the impact the proposed auto-enrolment pension scheme will have on the smallest employers.
To read more see here.
The importance of a written contract of employment and the Employment (Misc. Provisions) Bill
The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 has passed through the Dail and is likely to be enacted soon. One aspect of the Bill is that businesses must provide employees basic terms of employment within five days of them commencing employment. We outline the growing necessity to provide written contracts of employment….
The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 is currently before the Seanad and is likely to be enacted soon. SFA has repeatedly raised concerns in relation to various aspects of the proposed legislation which included the late introduction of section 20 of the Bill. If this section is enacted, it would have significant consequences for businesses in relation to the designation of individuals as self-employed. SFA welcomes that Minister Regina Doherty has indicated in the Seanad that she intends to bring an amendment next week to remove this section.
The main provisions of the Bill are as follows:
- Employers must give employees basic terms of employment within five days of them commencing employment
- Zero-hour contracts are prohibited except in situations of genuine casual employment and where they are essential to allow employers to provide cover in emergency situations or to cover short-term absence
- A new minimum payment for employees that are called into work but sent home again if no work is available
- Banded Hours provisions: a new right for employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the hours they habitually work whereby they can request to be placed in a band of hours that more accurately reflects the hours they have worked over a 12-month reference period
- The Bill provides strong anti-penalisation provisions for employees who invoke their rights under this legislation.
The current band widths that were revised in section 16 of the Bill are as follows:
Band From To
A 3 hours or more Less than 6 hours
B 6 hours or more Less than 11 hours
C 11 hours of more Less than 16 hours
D 16 hours or more Less than 21 hours
E 21 hours of more Less than 26 hours
F 26 hours of more Less than 31 hours
G 31 hours of more Less than 36 hours
H 36 hours and over
The necessity for a written contract of employment
This Bill and the rise in employment legislation in general means that the need for a written contract of employment is essential nowadays and we outline three reasons why you should provide contracts of employment to both existing and new staff.
- There is a legal obligation to provide a written statement of terms of employment under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994-2014
Every employer is legally obliged to provide a written statement of terms of employment within two months of an employee starting work and it must include the following information:
- The full name of the employer and employee
- The address of the employer
- The place of work. If there is no fixed or main place of work, it should state that the employee is required to work in various locations
- The job title or the nature of the work
- The start date of the contract
- Temporary contracts must include either the expected duration of the contract or if it is a fixed term contact it must specify the date that the contract ends
- The rate of pay or method of calculation for remuneration – the remuneration package should provide a breakdown of basic salary, commission, bonuses, allowances, etc. if they apply. If the employee works on a Sunday they must be paid a premium for this and the amount should be included under the pay section of the contract.
- How often the employee will be paid, i.e. weekly or monthly
- Hours of work including overtime. This section should also detail work breaks both daily and weekly as well as any shifts if they apply
- Terms and conditions for paid leave, i.e. annual leave and public holidays but not paid sick leave
- Terms and conditions for illness/injury and pensions schemes – if you have a sick pay scheme this should be detailed in this section
- The period of notice obliged to be given by both parties
- If any collective agreement affects the contract these should also be included. An example of a collective agreement would be an industry specific sectoral employment order.
The written statement of terms of employment should be signed and dated by the employer and employee.
As stated previously, if the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 is enacted in its current form, employers will be required to provide employees basic terms of employment within five days of them commencing employment. Failure to do this could lead to a class A fine of up to €5,000 and/ or imprisonment.
- If it is not written in the contract of employment it is difficult to implement or enforce
For example, if a retirement age is not written in a contract of employment, you cannot terminate an employee’s employment purely on the grounds of age as this is discrimination under the Equality legislation. In the case of using lay-off, again if it is not written down it is harder to implement as you would need to get the employee’s agreement to bring in lay off or short term working.
Businesses might want to include some or all of the following in a contract of employment if it applies:
- Probationary period with the right to extend it up to one year but not over a year
- Short time/lay off/redundancy
- Sick pay scheme
- Attendance and absence including the right to send an employee to a company doctor
- Right to search
- Retirement age
- Grievance and disciplinary procedures
- Retirement age
- Restrictive covenant clauses
It is important to note that all businesses must advise employees of the disciplinary procedures within one month of them starting work. Many businesses choose to include their disciplinary procedures in the contract of employment.
- In the case of disputes, the contract provides clarity and security for both parties
If a dispute arises between the employer and employee the contract of employment can provide clarity on these issues that take place internally or externally. For instance, if an employee lodges a grievance internally and it is in writing, the grievance procedures make it clear to both parties what the process is. If a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission is made for example a Payment of Wages claim, the contract of employment is usually the first reference point that will be used to defend a case.
Finally, it provides security for both parties as a contract of employment cannot be changed without the agreement from both sides. For example, an employer cannot suddenly change the hours of work without an agreement from the employee. Equally the employee cannot suddenly decide to work Monday to Thursday if their employment contract states they are required to work Monday to Friday.
SFA have a number of sample contracts of employment available for permanent, temporary and casual employments which you can avail of here. If you would like further information on any of the above, contact Helen on 01 605 1668 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the advice section on our website.
Rising cost(s) of motor insurance
The Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach is seeking the views of SFA members on progress made to address the Rising Cost(s) of Motor Insurance since 2016...
The Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach is seeking the views of SFA members on progress made to address the Rising Cost(s) of Motor Insurance since 2016.
In 2016, the Committee published “Report on the Rising Costs of Motor Insurance”. In January 2017, a subsequent report was published by the Government’s Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG), under the direction of the Minister of State at the Department of Finance. The Joint Committee monitors Government progress in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the CIWG report and has met with the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Michael D’Arcy, T.D. on a number of occasions in that regard.
On 15 November, the Joint Committee considered the Seventh Progress Update Report of the Working Group with the assistance of the Minister of State. In evidence presented to the Committee, the Minister stated that, “the most recent CSO figures for October 2018, which indicates that private motor insurance premia have decreased by 22.9% since peaking in July 2016”.
To draft our submission, I would ask that you return your contribution before close of business on Friday, 14 December to email@example.com.
Average household to spend over €2,690 in shops at Christmas
Retail Ireland has recently published its Christmas Retail Monitor 2018 that predicts the Irish household will spend an average of €2,690 in shops this December, approximately €866 more than any other month of this year and roughly 3% more than Christmas 2017...
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, has recently published its Christmas Retail Monitor 2018 that predicts the Irish household will spend an average of €2,690 in shops this December, approximately €866 more than any other month of this year and roughly 3% more than Christmas 2017.
The monitor predicts an increase in total sales of over €150 million, with sales over the Christmas season expected to top €4.65 billion, up from €4.5 billion in 2017. However, with a greater number of Irish shoppers now choosing to shop on foreign websites, the challenge for Irish retailers will be to ensure that this buoyancy is felt locally, and that Irish based retailers benefit from this anticipated additional spending.
A strong online performance over Black Friday weekend did impact footfall in traditional bricks and mortar outlets, however local retailers are reporting a significant increase in sales in their own online stores also. This would suggest that the consumer is ready to celebrate the festive season and retailers are bracing themselves for a busy 3-week period in the lead up to Christmas Day itself.
Key indicators point to retail prices remaining low, thanks in part to intense competition between retailers and positive currency movements.
Other insights from the monitor include:
- Consumer goods prices have fallen by 0.8% in the first ten months of 2018 and by 10% since 2013
- Retail sales in the first ten months of this year are up 2.8% in value terms on the same period in 2017
- Gross disposable income was up 4.4% in the first half of 2018, following on from growth of 5.7% in 2017
- Overall employment grew by 66,700 in the year to the end of the September 2018. The total number employed is now in excess of 2.27 million. There are now more people at work than at any time in the history of the State
- Central Bank statistics show that total e-commerce spend is likely to exceed €16 billion before year end. This would represent a close to 50% increase since 2015, highlighting the increasing number of Irish consumers shopping online. Growth in the online sales channel is running at ten times that of traditional bricks and mortar outlets.
The full report can be downloaded here.
SFA Webinar: The characteristics of successful retailers
SFA Members Christmas Evening 2018
On Tuesday, 11 December from 11.30am- 12:00pm Owen Clifford, Head of the Retail Sector in Bank of Ireland will deliver a SFA webinar entitled “Perpetual Motion – the characteristics of successful retailers”.
Owen will demonstrate how the core principles of retail – knowing your customer, building & developing your team and progressive in-store investment remain a fundamental requirement of any successful business strategy in the sector. It’s the execution of these principles which marks out the leading retailers from the crowd – are you maximising the potential of your retail business?
Register online now for the webinar.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you can't make this time, you can still register for the session and we'll send you a link to the recording afterwards so you can playback in your own time.
- 13 December
- SFA offices, Dublin
The wealth of business depends on the health of workers
Join us for some Christmas cheer at the SFA Members Christmas Evening, sponsored by SBCI on Thursday 13 December in the SFA offices 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2 from 6pm. This is a light hearted evening where you can make new business connections and catch up with familiar faces.
On the evening Mark Downey, a Certified Voice and Presence Coach will share some key tips to get the best out of your voice to give a powerful speech or presentation.
Attendance is free but please register your attendance online. Feel free to bring a colleague or a friend as a guest and also register them online.
- 9 January
- SFA offices, Dublin
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.
- Date: Wednesday, 9 January
- Time: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
- Location: SFA/ Ibec offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2.
The World Health Organisation has defined the workplace as an optimum place to promote health through collaboration and use of a continual improvement process to protect the health, safety and well-being of all workers. Companies of all sizes have an opportunity and responsibility to embed a credible wellbeing program into the workplace culture that will improve society.
This health and well-being seminar will demonstrate how to implement effective wellness programs, collect and analyse data, measure your return on investment and further valuable information. No matter what size your organisation or industry is, you can benefit from attending this event.
The seminar will be delivered by David Casey, Wellness and Health Promotion Manager/ Dental Professional at DeCare Dental Insurance Ireland Ltd.
A member of the SFA team will give you a sneak preview of our Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign, launching January 10. Grow, Scale, Succeed will provide small business with a variety of resources to enable them to recruit and retain employees as well as embrace Smart Working which is the combination of technology with flexible working arrangements.
The event 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 online.
Online GDPR training
Enrol your staff and managers on our newly designed online GDPR programme to ensure your staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR...
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a ground breaking piece of data protection legislation, which came into force on 25 May 2018, has a significant impact on all organisations, as it enhances the data protection rights of employees, imposes specific obligations on employers and introduces severe financial penalties for non-compliance.
Enrol your staff and managers on our newly designed online GDPR programme to ensure your staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR.
Benefits on online training:
- Cost effective
This course will provide participants with the knowledge to:
• Describe personal information and data subject rights
• Define consent
• Explain the role of the Data Protection Commission, Data Controller, Data Processor and the Data Protection Officer
• Determine accountability
• Conduct breach management and outline our role in the prevention of breaches
• Outline data subject access requests
• Understand the issue of privacy and its implications
Cost: €70 per license
- 30 minute duration
- Interactive exercises
- Short assessment
- Certificate of completion
This programme has been designed in conjunction with Dillon Production. Participant name(s) and email address(es) will be forwarded to Dillion Production for the sole purposes of setting up the login for this programme. If you are making a booking on behalf of someone else, please ensure you have obtained their consent to share their contact information (name and email address).
Book online now or contact the event organiser Raquel de la Pena Sarrion with any queries on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01 605 1667.