SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member, 

 

Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine.

 

This week our Brexit update focuses on advice to member companies with their own transport who may be bringing goods through Irish ports.

 

Find out how you can save up to 60% of your lighting electricity costs by upgrading to energy efficient lighting with grant support available from SEAI. We detail what is involved in a Workplace Relations Commission inspection and how your business can prepare for it.

 

Rising insurance costs are one of the biggest cost of doing business issues for our members. In response to this, we have relaunched the SFA Affinity Insurance Scheme in partnership with O’Leary Insurance Group to help you save on your business insurance

 

Have your say on emerging technologies in our latest survey which will help shape the content of our SFA Smart Business Conference. I am delighted to announce Dr Katherine O'Keeffe, Data Ethicist with Castlebridge, will be speaking at the event. Join us on 2 May to be part of the conversation. 

 

Ahead of National Wellbeing Day this Friday (12 April), we have launched our Wellness in the Workplace platform in partnership with DeCare Dental on our Grow, Scale, Succeed online platform. As part of our wellness activities on the day, we are also holding a webinar on the future of health in the workplace. 

 

We still have a few spaces left at our Business Bytes seminar taking place tomorrow (10 April) which will focus on cybersecurity and GDPR one year on, book your place now. Improve leadership and communication skills, learn how to deal with difficult staff and to increase the motivation levels among those in your team on our two day foundations in management course on 17 and 18 April. We also provide a summary of recent press coverage.

 

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
Recent press coverage
 
  • SFA Awards
  • Sectoral Employment Order

SFA Awards

 

The winners of the Awards were announced via press release on 8 March. Recently this was covered in: 

  • Drogheda Independent - 26 Mar
  • Connacht Tribune - 29 Mar
  • The Clare Champion - 29 Mar
  • Galway City Tribune - 29 Mar

Sectoral Employment Order

The SFA was referred to in an article in Industrial Relations News on 28 March regarding a sectoral pay order for the construction industry. 

NEWS
Brexit advice
 

The ongoing uncertainty over the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU which shows no sign of reaching a resolution should not deter members from preparing for a UK withdrawal under agreement of a ‘no deal withdrawal. Today we are providing advice to member companies with their own transport who may be bringing goods through Irish ports...


The ongoing uncertainty over the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU which shows no sign of reaching a resolution should not deter members from preparing for a UK withdrawal under agreement or a ‘no-deal' withdrawal. Today we are providing advice to member companies with their own transport who may be bringing goods through Irish ports.


The following is the latest Government advice that we can give to members with their own transport who may be bringing goods through Dublin or Rosslare Ports. In order to minimise any disruption to your business if you operate in this sector.

 

In a no deal scenario, the UK will become a ‘third country’ for trading purposes. This will mean that new rules will apply for businesses importing, exporting to or moving goods through the UK.

 

It is important that businesses undertake the necessary preparations to comply with these rules, for instance, incomplete or inaccurate information in relation to customs declarations and procedures will lead to delays with knock on impacts for your business.

All businesses

  • All businesses that import, export or move their goods and materials from or through the UK need to register with Revenue for a customs number (EORI number). This applies irrespective of the volume or value of trade undertaken.
  • All businesses should review their supply chain to assess how it may be affected and build this into their business planning and cash flow management. This may include where your business relies on products brought in from the UK through a distributor.
  • Check if your business relies on products or services that are certified for conformity with EU regulations and standards by a UK body. These certificates or licences may no longer be valid in a no deal scenario and you will need to take the necessary steps to ensure compliance with EU regulations and standards. For further information, please see certification and licensing.
  • Likewise, businesses are advised to monitor any changes that UK authorities may make over time to their regulatory requirements.
  • Get free online customs training from Enterprise Ireland.

Businesses importing directly from the UK

 

Businesses need to prepare for any new customs arrangements and regulatory checks and the impact they will have on their business.

 

These include:

  • Any requirements for pre-declarations and for regulatory checks for certain categories of goods (including animal or animal products, plants, plant products and wood packaging), and certain food products.
  • Health and safety requirements for certain categories of goods (machinery, equipment and chemicals).
  • Any required customs documentation and procedures for the payment of any customs and excise duties or VAT due on imports from third countries, including the UK in the event of a no deal scenario. Businesses will need to plan for this in terms of cash flow.
  • If your products are transported using wood packaging or pallets, check that the wood is International Standard for Phytosanitary Measure No. 15 (ISPM15) compliant.
  • Businesses are advised to consider how they will handle these customs and regulatory formalities. These can be managed in-house or by a customs broker/agent. Either option requires planning and time.

Businesses transporting goods through the UK

 

Businesses that move goods between Ireland and other EU countries by road through Britain (the UK landbridge) will face new rules and processes under the customs transit procedure.

 

This procedure will use the New Computerised Transit System and in order to use the landbridge in the most efficient way post-Brexit, businesses are encouraged to:

  • Register as authorised consignors/consignees to avail of the Simplified Customs Transit Procedure. Further information is available on the Revenue website.
  • Work through your bank or your customs agent/logistics provider to have the necessary financial guarantee in place.
  • If moving animals or animal products, work with the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine to register on the TRACES system.
  • Businesses can avail of free customs training through Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and the Local Enterprise Offices which aim to give businesses an understanding of the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to succeed post-Brexit.

New phase of trader engagement at Irish ports announced 

 

Revenue has announced that they have embarked on a new phase of engagement with trade and business who may be transporting goods to, from or through the UK post Brexit. The latest information from Revenue is vital in helping truck drivers avoid congestion and delays for trucks coming into, and moving out of, Irish ports.

From Friday 5 April, Customs Officers will be talking with, and providing information to, truck drivers in Dublin and Rosslare Ports to ensure they understand and are aware of the changes that Brexit will mean for their journeys. Customs Officers will be talking with truck drivers as they wait to embark the ferry, and will also be available on-board a number of sailings.

Customs Officers are available to help drivers who may have concerns or questions about what they need to do post Brexit, and to help them understand what the changes will be for them as they move through Irish ports.

Up to €2 million available to SMEs to upgrade their lighting and save energy
 

Save up to 60% of your lighting electricity costs by upgrading to energy efficient lighting with grant support available from SEAI...


The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton T.D announced €2 million funding for small and medium-sized businesses to invest in energy efficient lighting. The grant, administered by SEAI, will cover 30% of the cost of upgrade work and can help save up to 60% on lighting costs.

 

The grant is open to all small and medium-sized businesses including retailers, the hospitality and tourism sector, private health and education facilities, and manufacturers.

 

The scheme is open for applications from Monday, 08 April until Monday, 20 May. Early application is strongly advised as in the event of all funds being allocated prior to the closing date the scheme will automatically close. Applications can be submitted by individual businesses or by contractors. Contractors may group applications where they are delivering lighting upgrades for a number of small businesses.

 

Small and medium-sized enterprises with less than 250 employees across all sectors are eligible to apply. Annual turnover must not exceed €50 million. We encourage applicants to use energy efficient products from the SEAI triple E register

 

Find out more about the SME Lighting Support Scheme and how to apply.

Preparing for a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) inspection
 

Do you want to know more about what takes place in a Workplace Relations Commission inspection? Read on to understand what is involved in this process…


The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) have prepared a guide for employers on what to expect if they receive a WRC site inspection. The purpose of these inspections is to ensure that employers comply with employment law legislation such as keeping working time records, written contracts or a statement of terms and conditions for all employment types, employment permits and much more.

 

An inspection might arise because the WRC received a complaint for alleged non-compliance, it might be part of the WRC’s compliance campaigns which focuses on a specific piece of legislation, such as employment permits, or it could be a routine inspection.

 

What can I expect at the inspection?

 

The WRC will normally issue out a letter notifying the business that they will be conducting an inspection. They will hold an initial interview with the employer and their representative and they will request to see the employment records which are outlined in the checklist below.

 

When they are examining the records they normally focus on the previous year prior to the inspection but they can ask to see records that go back three years. They also have the right to take copies of the employment records.

 

Once they have examined the records, they will interview a sample of employees. The WRC have provided a sample questionnaire of the types of questions they may ask the employee and it can be accessed here. The WRC do have the right to interview employees without the employer’s permission but they tend to ask the employer in the first instance as a matter of courtesy. The employer can request to have the employee interview conducted off site.

 

They will then hold a further interview with the employer to let them know their findings from the inspection.

 

What if our business has not fully complied?

 

If there is a minor or inadvertent breach of employment law, the inspector will ask the employer to rectify the issue and will follow up to make sure they have complied with this request. Please note: SFA cannot advise on what constitutes a minor breach.

 

If there is an issue around the underpayment of wages, for example if someone is working on a Sunday but did not receive the Sunday premium, the amount outstanding will be recovered and paid to the employee or to former employees. The employer will need to demonstrate this by completing an Unpaid Wages Payment form that confirms that the employee has received the underpayment in their wages. The case will then be closed.

 

In the case of serious breaches or non-cooperation, the WRC will issue a compliance notice and fixed payment notices and they could also prosecute the employer if they refuse to comply with the WRC.

 

Checklist for an inspection

 

The WRC have provided a checklist that can be used to ensure you are complying with your employment law obligations. It asks the following:

  • Do I have my employer’s registration number with the Revenue Commissioners?
  • Do I have a list of all my employees including full names, addresses and PPS numbers?
  • Do I have the employment start dates of all my employees, and if relevant, do I have the termination dates of employment?
  • Do I have written terms of employment / contracts of employment for each of my employees?
  • Do I have employee’s job classification / job types?
  • Do I have a record of annual leave and public holidays taken by each employee?
  • Do I have a record of the hours of work for each employee including their start and finish times?
  • Do I have payroll details which includes gross to net, rate per hour*, overtime, deductions, commission, bonuses and service charges etc?
  • Do I have evidence that I provide employees with payslips?
  • Do I have a register of any employees under 18 years of age?
  • Do I have details of any board and lodgings provided?
  • Do I have employment permits or evidence that a permit is not required as appropriate for non-EEA nationals?
  • Do I have the completed template sent with the appointment letter or the same information available in a similar format?

*It should be noted that if employees work on a Sunday it should be made clear that a Sunday premium is paid, either as an additional premium on top of the hourly rate, included in the overall salary package or given off as time in lieu.

 

Read the guideline in full.

 

If you would like more information on this issue, please contact SFA Executive, Helen Quinn on 01 605 1668 or helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our HR and Employment Law advice section.

Save on your business insurance through our Affinity Scheme
 

Following a comprehensive review, we are delighted to announce a relaunch of the SFA Affinity Insurance Scheme in partnership with O’Leary Insurance Group...


Following a comprehensive review, we are delighted to announce a relaunch of the SFA Affinity Insurance Scheme in partnership with O’Leary Insurance Group.

 

The SFA Affinity Insurance Scheme has been designed to cater for all business sectors so whether you are involved in office and consultancy, retail, manufacturing or ICT, we will have a competitive insurance solution to meet your requirements.

 

The O’Leary Insurance Group have agreed bespoke policy covers to include benefits that will be unique to Small Firms Association members. In addition, the quotations issued by the panel of insurers under the scheme arrangement will include a significant discount for Small Firms Association member companies. The policy covers and discounts will be available exclusively through The O’Leary Insurance Group.

 

Find out more about the scheme on our website

 

O’Leary Insurance Group invite you to register your interest in the scheme by emailing sven@sfa.ie. Be in with the chance to win a €500 voucher to a 5 star hotel in Ireland, by responding before Friday, 26 April 2019.

Have your say on emerging technologies
 

In advance of the SFA Smart Business Conference on Thursday, 2 May 2019 in the Aviva Stadium we are inviting members to take part in our new technology survey...


In advance of the SFA Smart Business Conference on Thursday, 2 May 2019 in the Aviva Stadium we are inviting members to take part in our new technology survey. The survey will allow the SFA to learn about how member companies are adopting smart technology, such as cloud-based software and autonomous processes into their businesses.

 

The survey will take four minutes to complete and we would be most grateful if you could take the time to participate via Survey Monkey

 

For more information on the conference visit the event website

Wellness in the workplace now available on our Grow, Scale, Succeed platform
 

In light of National Wellbeing Day we have launched our Wellness in the Workplace section in partnership with DeCare Dental...


One aspect that arose out of the Grow, Scale, Succeed survey was that one third of those who responded offered some form of wellness in the workplace initiative, however, two thirds do not offer anything in this area.

 

To bridge this gap, the SFA partnered with DeCare Dental who specialise in workplace wellness. DeCare Dental have provided a wealth of wellness in the workplace resources on our Grow, Scale, Succeed platform.

 

As part of National Wellbeing day which takes place on Friday, 12 April, DeCare Dental will be sharing a webinar on the future of health in the workplace on the day at 10am. This webinar is free of charge and will highlight to small businesses the benefits of introducing a wellness in the workplace initiative and quick tips on how to improve workplace wellbeing that will not break the bank. Register your place now

 

In the meantime if you have any specific concerns or questions please contact SFA Executive, Helen Quinn on 01 605 1668 or helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit the advice section of our website. 

EVENTS
Cybersecurity and GDPR one year on
 
  • 10 April

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.

 

GDPR came into force in May 2018, in our next session we look at what has taken place in the last twelve months and explore future data protection issues.

  • Date: Wednesday, 10 April 2019
  • Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
  • Venue: SFA, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

The seminar will be delivered by:

  • Donna Creaven, Head of Supervision for the Multinationals and Technology, Data Protection Commission Ireland.

Donna will provide delegates with an overview of GDPR 12 months on and detail the pressure points in relation to data breaches and breach notifications. The difference between a security incident vs an actual data breach will be explained. Delegates will also be provided with the questions to ask when considering new technologies or relationships with technology vendors and receive information on data processors and data controller relationships.

  • Dave Feenan, Innovation Programmes Manager at Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet and Cybersecurity Skills Initiative (CSI).

Dave will present the activities that small firms can undertake to improve their cybersecurity hygiene and introduced the Government and industry supported Cybersecurity Skills Initiative.

  • Helen Quinn, SFA Executive.

The SFA’s Helen Quinn will also be presenting on the night. Helen will discuss the main GDPR queries received by the SFA over the past 12 months and on how small firms should manage data access requests.

 

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 online.

SFA Smart Business Conference 2019
 
  • 2 May

We are pleased to announce Dr Katherine O'Keeffe, Data Ethicist with Castlebridge, will join our second session of the day: AI: Job changer or job creator?

 

MyTaxi, Chronus Consulting, CarTrawler, RecommenderX, One4All and SBCI will share their digital transformation stories in our case studies session.

 

The SFA Smart Business Conference website is now live where you can find full details of our great line-up of speakers. 

  • Date: 2 May
  • Time: 08:30  2:00pm
  • Venue: The Aviva Stadium, Dublin 4

The cost of the event is €49 plus VAT for SFA members and €89 plus VAT for non-members. Join us on 2 May to be part of the conversation. Book your tickets online now.

TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Upcoming course in foundations in management on 17-18 April
 

Improve leadership and communication skills, learn how to deal with difficult staff and to increase the motivation levels among those in your team on our two day foundations in management course on 17 and 18 April...


In 2019 the SFA is offering courses designed to address the needs of small businesses. Important versus urgent is a key distinction for small firms, but one which is not always easy to make.

Is too much of your time spent on tasks and meetings that seem urgent but are not important for the future of your business? At SFA, we’re here to help you create time for things that can make a real difference, like developing management capacity and other skills for you and your staff. The SFA training offering for 2019 contains an interesting mix of courses – online and offline – to enhance key skills in your business.

They are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience. Based on your feedback, the courses are short, so that you can get on with running your business. Now is the time to plan your training calendar for 2019 – to make sure that vital upskilling does not get usurped by the urgent but non-important day-to-day distractions. Below are the training courses, dates and booking links. You can also find more information in our brochure.