Welcome to the SFA March News Update
 

Dear Member

In this month's issue, we inform you about Ireland's first National Workplace Wellbeing Day which takes place on the 27th of March and offer advice and guidance on how your company can facilitate employees returning to work who have been absent from the workplace due to illness or injury.

We update you on the SFA Submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation on Low Pay and the Living Wage and also inform you of the SFA meeting with the Public Accounts Committee regarding Public Procurement.

Also included in this month's addition are guidelines regarding Leave Entitlements for St Patricks's Day and Easter Holidays and we announce the Winners of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2015. 

Other items that may be of interest to you, is a New Internship Scheme which has been launched by An Tanaiste Joan Burton and we remind employers of the Importance of a Paper Trail in Employment Situations.


We also keep you abreast of all our recent activity in the media.

Please do keep us informed of any issues that concern you. 

Kind regards,


Patricia Callan

SFA Director


SFA Annual Subscription 2015
 

SFA membership is an important asset to your business and if you have not already done so, could I ask you to please remit your annual subscription by return...


SFA membership is an important asset to your business and if you have not already done so, could I ask you to please remit your annual subscription by return.  My sincere thanks to the many companies who have already responded with their 2015 subscriptions.

As in your own business, we are continuously seeking to drive efficiency and to provide members with a more flexible method of payment for your subscription by providing a direct debit option. This will make it easier for you to pay your subscription, by spacing the payment throughout the year. You have the option of making a once off or recurring (monthly) payment.

Please visit www.sfa.ie/directdebit where you can submit your details electronically.  Once we have received your completed mandate the direct debit request will be activated against your 2015 payment(s). 

Alternatively, you may choose to pay your membership fee in full by cheque, electronic transfer or online at www.sfa.ie/invoice

Please note that you can renew your subscription on-line by clicking here or by credit transfer.

The SFA bank details are:

Bank: Bank of Ireland

Bank Address: 2 College Green, Dublin 2

Account Name: SFA / Ibec

Bank Account:10025922

Sort Code: 90-00-17

BIC: BOFIIE2D

IBAN: IE97BOFI90001710025922

Vat Number: IE 0051524W

As of Thursday, 5th of February 2015, all individual company passwords to www.sfa.ie will no longer enable you to log on to the members only area of the website.  This will only be re-enabled on receipt of subscription.

 

SFA National Small Business Awards 2015 Winners
 

The SFA National Small Business Awards Ceremony took place in the RDS Concert Hall on Wednesday, 4th March 2015.  The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, was the Guest of Honour and made the presentations. The event was attended by over 300 guests, including 38 short-listed companies... 


The SFA National Small Business Awards Ceremony took place in the RDS Concert Hall on Wednesday, 4th March 2015.  The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, was the Guest of Honour and made the presentations.  The event was attended by over 300 guests, including 38 short-listed companies.

Congratulations to Clevamama who was the overall winner.

The SFA National Small Business Award Winners & Highly Commended Companies are as follows:


Manufacturing
, sponsored by Energia

  • Winner – Celtic Pure (Monaghan)

Food & Drink, sponsored by Bord Bia

  • Winner – Quinlan's Fish and Quinlan's Seafood Bars (Kerry)
  • Highly Commended – Eight Degrees  Brewing Company (Cork)

Services, sponsored by Three

  • Winner – Team Horizon (Mayo)

Outstanding Small Business, sponsored by AIB

  • Winner – Earth’s Edge (Dublin)
  • Highly Commended – Italian Tile and Stone (Dublin)

 Innovator of the Year, sponsored by Enterprise Ireland

  • Winner – Clevamama (Dublin)
  • Highly Commended - Ventac (Wicklow)

 Energy & Environmental Sustainability, sponsored by Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

  • Winner – Nugent Manufacturing (Kildare)

 Small Business Exporter of the Year, sponsored by DHL Express

  • Winner – Topform (Galway)
  • Highly Commended - ClubsToHire (Dublin)

 Emerging New Business, sponsored by IE Domain Registry

  • Dúnmasc Genetics (Laois)
  • Herdwatch (Tipperary)
  • OxyMem (Westmeath)
  • Smartspot (Meath)
  • TenderScout (Dublin)

All finalists in the Awards 2015 programme were profiled in a special Irish Independent Supplement edition.  To see their interviews, click here.

To read the press release and find out some more information about the Winners click here.

 

 

St Patrick's Day Public Holiday and Easter Holidays 2015
 
St Patrick’s Day falls on Tuesday, 17th March and is a public holiday. A public holiday is a statutory entitlement, as set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act.  The following employees are entitled to public holidays...

St Patrick’s Day falls on Tuesday, 17th March and is a public holiday.  A public holiday is a statutory entitlement, as set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act.

The following employees are entitled to public holidays:

  • All full time employees.
  • Part-time and casual employees who have worked at least 40 hours in the five weeks ending on the day before the public holiday.

In respect of each public holiday an employee's entitlement is:

  • A paid day off on the public holiday or
  • A paid day off within a month, or
  • An extra day's annual leave or
  • An extra day's pay

Employees who are not normally rostered to work on the day the public holiday falls are entitled to one-fifth of their normal weekly rate of remuneration for the public holiday, which is added on to that weeks pay.

 

Easter Holidays 2015

Easter Monday falls on Monday, 6th April and is a public holiday.  It should not be confused with "Bank Holidays" e.g. Good Friday (Friday, 3rd April), which are not covered by the Act and to which there is no legal entitlement.  Some companies give this day off as a good will gesture or require employees to take it as an Annual Leave day.  

A guide on Annual Leave and Public Holidays can be downloaded by clicking here

If you have any queries regarding the Act, please contact the SFA on Tel: 01 605 1664/1668 or e-mail: info@sfa.ie.

 

SFA Submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation on Low Pay and the Living Wage
 

On Tuesday, 3rd of March, SFA Chairman, AJ Noonan and SFA Director, Patricia Callan appeared before the Joint Oireachtas on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation informing them that the recent establishment of the Low Pay Commission is highly concerning for SFA members...


On Tuesday, 3rd of March, SFA Chairman, AJ Noonan and SFA Director, Patricia Callan appeared before the Joint Oireachtas on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation informing them that the recent establishment of the Low Pay Commission is highly concerning for SFA members. Whilst the concept of an independent evidence-based assessment of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) rate, independent of politics, is desirable, it is unfortunate that none of the individual small business-owner managers who actually have real experience of the issues in running a small business which employs minimum wage or relatively low wage workers were selected as members of the Commission. The fact that no interviews took place to choose the members of the Commission is fundamentally flawed. It will be difficult for small businesses to accept the true independence of the Commission, given this gap in representation. The small business sector will be the one to pick up the tab on decisions made by the Commission, so they deserve to be given an opportunity to participate.

To read the full copy of the submission and the SFA’s arguments against an increase in the Minimum Wage please click here.

 

SFA meets Public Accounts Committee on Public Procurement
 

An SFA delegation met with the Public Accounts Committee to discuss issues relating to small firms access to Public Procurement opportunities on Thursday, 5th March...


An SFA delegation met with the Public Accounts Committee to discuss issues relating to small firms access to Public Procurement opportunities on Thursday, 5th March.  The SFA submission argues for fundamental reform of the public procurement system, to remove the emphasis on price, set targets for SME procurement, break contracts down into lots by region and sector and improve the feedback and appeals process. 

You can view the full submission, with examples of specific member experiences here.
Intertrade Ireland Funding for Growth Service
 
Intertrade Ireland have launched a new free advisory service on funding sources for growth...

Intertrade Ireland have launched a new free advisory service on funding sources for growth.

Regional workshops and clinics are being run around the country at present.  For further information, please click here.

 

The Importance of a Paper Trail in Employment Situations
 
One of the most simple,avoidable and easy to fix mistakes made by employers of all sizes is the absence of a paper trail. Time and time again employers are faced with
situations where the existence of a letter, a signed agreement or an e-mail would instantly resolve an issue...

One of the most simple,avoidable and easy to fix mistakes made by employers of all sizes is the absence of a paper trail. Time and time again employers are faced with situations where the existence of a letter, a signed agreement or an e-mail would instantly resolve an issue.The absence of such written evidence can lead to many problems whether it be defending a case before a third party or in clarifying the employer’s understanding of a temporary arrangement with an employee. In this day and age something as simple as an e-mail can help avoid a serious amount of unrest from developing. There is no quicker way to resolve an issue where cloudy recollections have developed than to produce written clarifications.

Sometimes an employer will occasionally receive requests for some sort of alteration to an employee’s existing contractual arrangements from a staff member and as a good will gesture will accommodate the employee’s request.  However problems can arise when such agreements are not captured in writing and are only agreed verbally.  Taking the few minutes to draft up an agreement or to write a letter to an employee outlining an agreement can save a considerable amount of wasted time, cost and other potential problems in the future.  When managing any issue with an employee - whether it be related to performance, conduct or just an agreement to accommodate a temporary change in working pattern, it is vital to record the details in writing.

Members who may have further questions on this can contact the SFA team on Tel: 01 605 1644/1668.

 

New Internship Scheme Launched
 
Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has launched two new schemes aimed at 18-25 year olds...

Tánaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has launched two new schemes aimed at 18-25 year olds. First Steps (a programme similar to JobBridge) starts in April and is designed to provide six or nine months' work experience to unemployed youth in that age group.

The standard JobBridge internship fee of €50 will be payable weekly under First Steps. The second scheme JobsPlus Youth (live since earlier this month) will discount an employer's wage bill when they hire a young person directly from the live register.

For further information on this, please click here.

 

National Workplace Wellbeing Day - 27th March 2015
 
Ireland’s first Workplace Wellbeing Day is taking place on Friday, 27th March...

Ireland’s first Workplace Wellbeing Day is taking place on Friday, 27th March.  Companies and their employees are invited to be part of this national movement aimed at improving health in the
workplace.  Research shows that your employees want to get healthier and companies can play a role in helping them. With 11 million working days lost through absenteeism every year at a cost of
€1.5 billion², workplace wellbeing can contribute to Ireland economically, socially and from a health perspective.

Workplace Wellbeing Day is an opportunity for the business community to demonstrate the positive contribution it is making towards improving the population’s health. The Nutrition & Health Foundation (NHF) has designed a national awareness campaign to allow you to highlight your company's workplace wellbeing initiatives.  Here’s how to get involved.

  • Log onto www.nhfireland.ie/wellbeing and  tell us what your organisation does to improve health. 
  • On the 27 March, run one initiative aimed at improving employee health and tweet  about it.

Don’t worry if workplace wellbeing is new to your organisation. There are lots of ideas and suggestions on the website, along with some practical examples of initiatives already being undertaken by other companies that you can put in place in your organisation. 

We also invite you to a seminar in Croke Park on 27 March 2015, entitled Workplace Wellbeing – working towards a healthier Ireland.  It will feature leading national and international experts, policy makers and Irish business leaders.  Please click here to register.

If you require any further information please email muireann.cullen@ibec.ie.

 

Rehabilitation and Return to Work
 
In recent times, the SFA has taken a good few queries from members on the topic of facilitating an employee who has been off from work due to a long term illness or injury that has caused a disability...

In recent times, the SFA has taken a good few queries from members on the topic of facilitating an employee who has been off from work due to a long term illness or injury that has caused a disability.Under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2011 employers are obliged to take appropriate measures – ‘reasonable accommodation’ – (unless the costs of doing so are disproportionate) in facilitating an employees return.  Some examples of accommodating a disability are:

  • A talking lift with tactile floor buttons.
  • Adjustable-height desks.
  • A hands-free phone set.
  • Later start and finish times.
  • Organising the distribution of work tasks in a team

A phased return may be agreed upon for a period of time to integrate the employee back into the working environment to ease the transition period back.  The SFA have a guideline that can be download by clicking here on this subject.

Members who have queries on this should contact a member of the SFA Team on Tel: 01 605 1664/1668.

SFA Webinar – Succession Planning
 

This month’s Webinar will cover the area of Succession Planning and will be presented by Patricia Callan, SFA Director on Tuesday, 31st March at 12-12.30pm.  This is a great opportunity for you to be informed about a particular area that is relevant to you and your business.

While many people have successfully set up their business, few have mastered the art of knowing when the time is right to sell in order to extract maximum value or indeed to ensure that it simply can survive the absence of the original owner.

Please register your attendance at this webinar by clicking here.

For further details e-mail aisling.heaton@sfa.ie or Tel: 01-6051668.

 

SEAI Energy Show
 

This year’s SEAI Energy Show will be held in the RDS on March 25th and 26th.  This annual event is free to organisations and businesses and is a must for those with an interest or involvement in energy management and solutions.  This year will include new features like the SEAI Energy Theatre which will host hourly workshops which are free to all attendees (limited space available).  Attendees can also sign up for a free test drive in an electric car, or attend a Retrofit Best Practice Demo or seek out business opportunities abroad in the International Markets area.   All details of the show and Registration forms are available by clicking here

Smart Business Show
 

We are delighted to announce that the Small Firms Association will be partnering with the Smart Business Show to provide members with exclusive discounts to attend the show and also to exhibit. We will also be running a dedicated event for our members within the show which we will update you on in due course.

The Smart Business Show is a two day Business to Business exhibition that will provide you with the opportunity to explore the latest innovative technologies and to engage, connect and do business with exhibitors and thousands of attendees.

Visitors will also be able to hear from a rich mix of industry leading speakers and participate in dedicated workshops. Take advantage of these benefits by attending the show and member workshop for the discounted early bird rate of €15 (normally €30). Alternatively you can attend the show only for €10. 

To register to attend the show, please click here. 

To enquire about  SFA members exhibiting with a 10% reduction, please click here.

 

SFA in the Media
 

During the last few weeks the SFA featured in the media discussing topics such as supporting the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs Campaign on finding out what supports are there for small companies.  AJ Noonan, SFA Chairman, stated “Our sector needs every support it can get if we are to contribute to the economic recovery and the creation of jobs. This campaign will ensure small business owners are aware of the various supports available to them.”  To read the press release on this, please click here.

Alan Sherlock, SFA Executive featured in the media talking about the cost of absenteeism to small business in Ireland.  He stated, “absenteeism still has a significant impact in terms of direct costs for small firms, but the results do show an improvement for small compared to big business. For large businesses the average absenteeism rate is 2.34% or 5.4 days where as in businesses with less than 50 employees the rate is 2.06% or 4.7 days.”  To read the full press release, please click here.

On Tuesday, 3rd March, Patricia Callan SFA Director appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation making a case that the National Minimum Wage (€8.65) be frozen at its current rate for another 3 years.  She stated, “Small businesses truly are the engines of our economic recovery. We have a vital role to play in terms of employment generation, especially in regional towns and villages and rural Ireland. Increasing business labour costs without productivity gains, will not only dampen this recovery, but will ultimately lead to both the prevention of job growth and to job losses across the sector.”   To read a copy of the submission please click here.

Patricia Callan also featured on RTE1 TV “The Week in Politics on Sunday, 15th February discussing low pay issues, to see the debate please click here and on TV3 “Tonight Show with Vincent Browne” on Monday, 2nd March.  To see the debate, please click here.

The SFA National Small Business Awards 2015 Winner was announced at a Gala event on Wednesday, 4th March in the RDS Concert Hall.  Clevamama were the overall winner.  It was a fantastic event attended by 300 finalists and guests.  To read the press release, please click here.

An SFA delegation met with the Public Accounts Committee on Public Procurement on Thursday, 5th March.  SFA Chairman, AJ Noonan commented: “It is essential that the procurement system is subjected to scrutiny by PAC to ensure that it is achieving real value for money, and that contracts are awarded with a whole economy perspective in mind, in particular an assessment of the impact of lost jobs in micro enterprises in all towns and villages around the country, who have lost contracts under the new system.  The system should be redesigned from a think small first perspective, as recommended by the EU, and actions should be put in place to remove the barriers raised against small businesses winning public contracts. To read the full press release, please click here.