SFA E-zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this week's edition of our SFA e-zine.   We have a busy few weeks of events ahead in SFA. 


Today we share with you a guide about new technologies and potential risks of monitoring staff.  This is a potential threat for all business, including small businesses.  Make sure you take the time to read this important article.


The SFA Awards are open for applications and we are looking back at the 2018 overall winner, Briody Bedding.  We have our first networking event this Thursday as well as a panel discussion about how to use digital to grow your business.  


Our Grow, Scale, Succeed survey is live and we are accepting responses now, if you are interested in participating we would really appreciate it.  


The SFA Annual Lunch will take place in the Mansion House on 16 November, this is a must attend event so make sure to book your table or seat today.


We have our Employment Law Conference in Cork tomorrow and there are just 15 days left to book before we will be have our conference in Dublin


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

GDPR, new technologies and potential risks of monitoring staff

This week we look at a few data privacy risks associated with new technologies and we outline both the scenarios and the potential privacy risks associated with them from a GDPR point of view…

One of the key challenges for businesses today is balancing legitimate business interests with the privacy rights of individuals including their employees. This can be a big risk when it comes to monitoring devices such as CCTV, GPS and other digital tracking systems that detect or monitor computer, e-mail and internet usage. Businesses use these systems to protect their physical and digital assets from external and internal threats.


The challenge is that these same systems can monitor employees in the workplace in an overly intrusive manner and this could pose significant challenges to the privacy rights of employees. In light of enhanced privacy rights under GDPR, businesses need to strike the balance between protecting their assets and customer data and minimising excessive or intrusive monitoring of employees.


A publication earlier this summer from the Article 29 Working Group (WP29), who consist of data protection regulators across the EU and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, provide a number of scenarios that business might want to consider when using new technologies and how these could potentially infringe on the privacy rights of their employees.


We share a few of these scenarios below:


1.Processing operations during the recruitment process


The scenario: During the recruitment of new staff, an employer checks the social media profiles of potential candidates. The employer views, collects and stores that information from the various social networks and uses that personal data as part of the screening process.


The risks: Whilst many people have social media accounts that are publicly available this does not give an automatic entitlement to employers to process that personal data. The employer must have a strong legitimate reason to collect this personal data, a legal basis to do this and the business must inform potential candidates in advance of them applying for the role that they are collecting personal data from their social networks. The best method of being transparent about the collection of personal data from social networks is to detail this in the job advert.

Other points to note:

1.Employers should factor in whether the social media profile of the potential candidate is for business or private purposes.
2.If you are collecting personal data from the social media profile it should only relate to the role the potential candidate has applied for.
3.Any social media personal data collected during the recruitment process should be deleted once the candidates have been informed that they were unsuccessful.
4.There is no legal ground for an employer to “friend” a potential employee or covertly gain access to their social media profile.


2.Processing operations during the employment cycle


The scenario: Employers could have the potential technical ability to screen employee social media profiles on an on-going basis. This can give them access to personal and sensitive data on their employees. In general, employers should not screen social media profiles unless there is a very strong business case for this. For example, an employer may decide to monitor the LinkedIn profiles of former employees to ensure that the employee does not breach a non-compete clause that the employee has signed in their contract of employment.


The risks: This activity has a high risk of invading an employee’s privacy rights and in general is difficult to justify. The employer needs to be able to prove that this type of monitoring is necessary to protect their legitimate interests and they should use more traditional and less invasive methods first. They also need to inform employees in advance that once they leave the business will monitor their LinkedIn profile for the duration of the non-compete clause for this specific purpose. If this is abused, there is a very strong likelihood that the former employee could raise a complaint with the Data Protection Commission.


Other points to note:

1.The screening of employee social media profiles should not be carried out especially in the case of an investigation or disciplinary issue as it could undermine the validity of the disciplinary process.

Other new technologies and risks to consider

Businesses should think of privacy by design when they are using new technologies in their business and the workplace. The guidance from the WP29 group also includes scenarios for:


•Data Loss Prevention tools that monitor outgoing communications from the business so that they can minimise the risk of data breaches
•The latest version firewalls and other monitoring technologies
•Cloud based tracking systems
•Monitoring devices for mobile phones, tablets and laptops
•Mobile Device Management technology
•Monitoring of the home and remote working
•Devices that record and monitor time and attendance
•Video monitoring systems
•Tracking systems for employees who drive vehicles


Businesses use this these devices as the number of threats are increasing from all angles such as cyber attacks and data breaches, road safety risks for roles that involve driving and / or delivery services or security risks within the business premises. In some instances the legitimate interest will override the privacy rights of the employees but it is essential that employees are informed in a clear and transparent manner that these are in place, that they are not excessively monitored and there is a clear legal basis and justification for implementing these systems.


You can download the WP29 opinion document on data processing here or if you would like to discuss the matter 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

The winner of the SFA Awards 2018 was....

Briody Bedding won the Overall SFA National Small Business Award 2018. 

Briody Bedding won the Overall SFA National Small Business Award 2018.   Based in Ballinrink Co. Meath and employing 50 people, it is one of the largest and most comprehensive bedding and furniture manufacturers in Ireland and produces a diversified line of mattress and foundation products. All products are manufactured in Ireland and distributed to furniture retailers throughout the country on a daily basis. Brands by Briody include Briody Bedding, Spring Air, Therapedic and The Pocket Spring Bed Company.


You can see the interview with David Briody on our awards website

Announcing the winner, Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair and Chair of the Awards Judging Panel, said: “This family business established in 1974 is going from strength to strength. Briody Bedding is one of the largest employers in Ballinrink, Co Meath and the company is not only manufacturing there, it is carrying out extensive R&D to develop innovative products to help the company penetrate new export markets.”


To see all the videos for the category winners visit our awards website.


The SFA National Small Business Awards 2019 competition is open to all companies in Ireland with up to 50 employees and there is a wide range of categories to suit all sectors – including a category for companies with under five employees and newly formed businesses.


There are no entry fees to enter any categories in these awards and all shortlisted companies receive five invited places to attend the Gala Awards Ceremony which is held in the RDS, Concert Hall on 07 March 2019. A generous prize package of €50,000 is awarded to all shortlisted finalists throughout the programme with additional prizes for the overall winner.


We have our first networking event for the awards on Thursday 27 September.  If you have any questions or queries about the awards make sure you pop along, we will see you there!


This event is free to attend but please pre-register online here.


Reminder - SFA Access to Talent Survey

SFA is rolling out a new campaign called Grow, Scale, Succeed: securing and finding the right people.

SFA is rolling out a new campaign called Grow, Scale, Succeed: securing and finding the right people.


The focus of this new initiative will be on recruitment, employee engagement and Smart Working. Smart Working combines the use of technology that enables employees to work remotely at home, in a co-working space or a hybrid model (a mix of working in the office and remotely).


In order for us to deliver the right tools, events and activities that suit your business needs we would need your input! We encourage you to visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SFA_Talent and complete the survey. It takes about 8 minutes. Answers will remain anonymous and confidential unless you opt to include your contact details. Some of the trends that we can see from the survey already are:

  • A majority of our members spent 5 days or more per year on recruitment
  • Only a minority of our members use recruitment companies to help finding the right people
  • Two-thirds of our members have started recruiting non-EU nationals or are considering it.

Please take part in our survey and help us to shape the future of work for small business.


The closing date for the survey is 5 October at 5pm. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie

SFA Annual Lunch, book your place now

The SFA Annual Lunch is the highlight of the small business calendar. It is an opportunity for you to celebrate the achievements of your business and for all stakeholders to recognise the contribution that small firms make to the Irish economy and society.

The SFA Annual Lunch 2018 will take place in the Round Room of Mansion House in Dublin on Friday, 16 November from 12.30pm.

Join 500 guests, including small business owner-managers, politicians, senior government officials and media for the biggest business lunch of the year for small business. 

This is also the perfect opportunity to bring together your invited guests, special customers, clients and valued employees to kick off the festive season.

To book, visit the SFA website:

  • Table of 10: €750 + VAT for SFA members, €950 + VAT for non-members
  • Individual tickets: €75+ VAT for SFA members, €95 + VAT for non-members

Below is a highlight video from the Annual Lunch 2017.




Using Digital to Grow Your Business
  • 27 September 2018,  SFA Offices

As part of our 15th SFA National Small Business Awards Programme we would like to cordially invite you to a networking event

Using Digital to Grow Your Business

Thursday 27 September 5.30pm – 8pm

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

Digital technologies are changing customer and employee engagement, as well as processes and products – with big opportunities for those that can keep up. Our event will be jargon free and will give you practical, hands-on advice on how to make Digital work for you.

We have a great line up of speakers as well as panellist and the event will last for approximately 75 minutes with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.


5:30pm – Registration, networking & refreshments

6:00pm – Welcome from Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director

6:05pm – Welcome from Sue O’Neill, SFA Chair / Chair of the Awards judging panel

6:10pm – Presentation from speakers:

  • 6:10 – 6:30 – Using Digital to Grow your Business - Ronan O’Neill, Philip Donnellan, Digigrow
  • 6:30 – 6:50 – DIY Digital – I Spy Leads - Cathy McGovern, owner and founder of Inspiration Marketing

6:50pm – Panel discussion

7:15pm – Networking and refreshments

7:45pm – Event close

This event is free to attend but please pre-register.

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

6 step sales process to grow your business
  • 03 October, SFA Offices, 17:30

Join us on the 3rd October, where the focus will be sales growth for your business with Jo Collins

With over 25 years experience in Sales and Sales Management, Jo believes that the most competitive advantage any company has is its people. A great leader will inspire their team to dream big, learn more, do more and become more.

Jo’s approach to business growth, is very practical, and she shares techniques and tips on what has been successful in her previous roles, and what has worked in developing her own business.

Her experience in both the corporate sector and as a business owner has given her the opportunity to experiment with many techniques, so she knows what works. She engages with the material she teaches on a daily basis to build her own business and only recommend strategies that deliver results.

Specific to Sales Performance’s delivery methods are empathy, action, and engagement.

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

What Does ‘Digital Transformation’ Mean for Small/Medium Sized Businesses?
  • 09 October 2018, Online webinar, 2pm

What Does ‘Digital Transformation’ Mean for Small/Medium Sized Businesses?

This webinar will teach you how utilising technology in your business reduces your operating costs and will improve your interactions with your current customers. Learn how harnessing the power of technology can help to automate internal operations and increase customer engagement.

Book you place today: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6366907191978835457

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Gillian O'Keefe, Tel: +353 1 605 1664

Only 15 days to book your place at the Dublin SFA Employment Law Conference

Are you a small business owner based in Dublin or the surrounding areas?

Do you want to find a better way of managing the following HR issues?

  • Absenteeism
  • Poor performers and hard to manage probation issues
  • Understanding the correct procedure for disciplinary issues?

Or would you like to know more about how to deal with:

  • Managing workplace stress
  • Implementing a drug and alcohol policy in the workplace
  • Managing sexual harassment and understanding your obligations
  • Understanding the changes in retirement age and managing requests for longer working

If the answer is yes book your place at the SFA Employment Law Conference today and receive on the ground practical advice that includes recent case law examples to help you manage the employee life-cycle.


Book now to avail of the SFA price of only €190 for this all-day event.


What you need to know for the Dublin Employment Law Conference


Date:               10 October 2018

Time:               09:00 -16:00

Venue:             Herbert Park Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

How to book:   www.sfa.ie/0/empconfdub