SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member,

This week's e-zine introduces the vibrant new SFA brand which was launched at our Annual Lunch event last Friday. We call for submissions on the proposal for the abolishment of zero hour contracts and provide information on a SFA briefing with the Low Pay Commission on the National Minimum Wage.

Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different government support available to small businesses, in this edition we bring you details on the €2,500 trading online vouchers

We also discuss the results of the SME Credit Demand Survey and provide information on our upcoming webinar, the SFA Annual General Meeting, Members Christmas Drinks and 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 directly at tel: 01 605 1602 or 

e-mail: patricia.callan@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit www.sfa.ie.


Kind Regards,

Patricia Callan
SFA Director


NEWS
Vibrant re-branding of the SFA
 
Earlier this year, the SFA National Council agreed a new Strategy for our organisation to 2020, and part of that is the vibrant new brand that was launched at the SFA Annual Lunch on Friday, 6 November...

Earlier this year, the SFA National Council agreed a new strategy for our organisation to 2020, and part of that is the vibrant new brand that was launched at the SFA Annual Lunch on Friday, 6 November. 

The SFA vision is that Ireland is the most vibrant small business community in the world – supporting entrepreneurship, valuing small business and rewarding risk takers.

This vision will be reflected in our new brand identity and is evident through the use of a bold and arresting colour palette. 


If you would like a copy of the new SFA logo to use on your website or in your publications, please contact Louise Swail on louise.swail@sfa.ie or tel: 01 605 1664. 

What are your thoughts on zero-hours and casual working contracts?
 
The Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD has published a report, “A Study on the Prevalence of Zero Hours Contracts among Irish Employers and their Impact on Employees”...

The Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD has published a report, “A Study on the Prevalence of Zero Hours Contracts among Irish Employers and their Impact on Employees” which he commissioned from the University of Limerick.

The study has found that zero-hour contracts are not extensively used in Ireland. However, it raises concerns over a new type of precarious work contract that has emerged – “if and when” contracts. The Minister believes that these contracts are aimed at circumventing the protections afforded to workers on zero hour contracts, where they must be compensated for 25% or 15 hours of the time they had to make themselves available.

The Minister is proposing to introduce safeguards to further protect employees. Recommendations from the report include 72 hours notice (called into work, or cancellation of work), versus 24 hours currently, a new minimum shift of at least 3 consecutive hours work per shift and a guarantee of minimum hours payment when employees have made themselves available and not been given work.

These changes would affect employers who rely on shift work, casual workers and the ability to give hours to employees as and when needed.

While the complete proposal isn't available as of yet, the SFA will be making a submission to the DJEI outlining our members' thoughts around this type of legislative change. Please get in touch to let us know what you think. We would welcome your input between now and 20 November, prior to the submission deadline.

Send your thoughts to Jonathan Callan, SFA Executive, jonathan.callan@sfa.ie.

Also, if you have any queries around current contracts of employment or resource solutions, contact Jonathan on 01 605 1668. 

SFA briefs Low Pay Commission
 
An SFA delegation met with the members of the Low Pay Commission on Thursday, 5 November to discuss the National Minimum Wage (NMW), the Commission's work in setting the NMW and its impact on small companies.

An SFA delegation met with the members of the Low Pay Commission on Thursday, 5 November to discuss the National Minimum Wage (NMW), the Commission's work in setting the NMW and its impact on small companies.

The Commission will sit regularly for a 3-year period and will make a recommendation to Government each July on what the new NMW should be.

For 2016, they recommended a 50c increase in the National Minimum Wage to €9.15, which the Government announced in Budget 2016 will take effect from 1st January 2016. Their full report can be accessed on www.lowpaycommission.ie.

SFA Director, Patricia Callan, encouraged the Commission to recommend that any increase should be on a set date each year with advance notice being given to all companies and that from member feedback this should be in Q2, e.g. 1st April each year.

The discussion with the Commission was wide-ranging covering the various arguments against increasing the NMW set our in our submission earlier this year, which you can access on our website.

They were particularly interested in how many of our members have workers on the NMW, how long those workers remain on that rate, whether many of our workers need to avail of FIS and any repercussive claims arising. 


We would welcome any inputs from members on their experience of operating the NMW on an onging basis; please e-mail to patricia.callan@sfa.ie or tel: 01-6051602.

Going forward, the SFA intends to make a formal written submission with current economic data in Q2 each year, to input into the Commission's deliberations for the following year.

€2,500 available to help your business to trade online
 

Spotlight on the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, which offers €2,500 to micro-firms to get them trading online. This article provides information on the scheme and advice on how to apply. 


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.

#1 Trading Online Voucher Scheme

What? 

A cash contribution of up to €2,500 to help get your business trading online, plus training, mentoring and networking. 

The vouchers can be used for:

  • IT consultation
  • Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website
  • Implementing an online payments or bookings system
  • Development or implementation of a digital marketing strategy
  • Development of an app
  • Purchase of internet-related software
  •   Training/skills development

Why? 

Irish people spend €673,500 per hour online and the size of the digital economy is growing by 20% per year, so there are huge business opportunities online.

Feedback from companies who have used the vouchers:

  • 80% said that the application process helped them to plan
  • 85% experienced an increase in customer enquiries
  • 21% increased their direct sales
  • 40% said it has given them access to new markets

How? 

The scheme is run by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), which work with companies to prepare their applications. The first step is to attend an information session run by a LEO. For more information and to find your nearest LEO, visit the LEO website.

Tips

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

  • The vouchers are specifically for micro-firms with less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2 million
  • Applicants must be trading for at least 12 months and have limited online trading presence
  • Selection will be based on eligibility, value added potential, export potential, job creation potential and financial sustainability
  • The voucher cannot be used to cover the entire cost of the project – it will only match other finance to a limit of €2,500
  •  Approval must be received before any expenditure is made and companies receive the funding on completion of the project (which must be within three months of the start date)
SME Credit Demand Survey results published
 
The Department of Finance yesterday published its regular commissioned research by Red C “SME Credit Demand Survey” report, covering the period April-September 2015.
The Department of Finance yesterday published its regular commissioned research by Red C “SME Credit Demand Survey” report, covering the period April-September 2015.

30% of SMEs sought credit, of which 85% of applications were approved or partially approved by the banks (73% when including pending applications).

The results suggest a further improvement in trading conditions among SMEs. 85% of all SMEs report improved or stable turnover performance and the Report also shows improvements in profit performance and staff numbers.  You can read the full report here.

On 9 November the SFA issued a press comment on this survey, you can read the full statement on our website

If you've any queries on the report or are experiencing difficulties in accessing finance currently, please e-mail patricia.callan@sfa.ie or tel: 01-6051602.
EVENTS
SFA Webinar - Resourcing & Leave Entitlements during the Christmas period
 
Wednesday, 25 November

On 25 November from 2:15pm - 2:45pm Jonathan Callan, SFA Executive will deliver a webinar covering the upcoming public holidays and solutions to resource your business during the Christmas period. 

The webinar will also brief you on the extra cautions when employing young persons (under 18) during the busy season, as well as some other HR issues arriving in January 2016.

Register online for the webinar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

SFA Annual General Meeting
 
Thursday, 3 December 2015

Patricia Callan, SFA Director, would like to invite you to the SFA Annual General Meeting, which will be held at the SFA offices at 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 at 1:30pm on Thursday, 3 December 2015 to consider the following resolutions:

1. To approve the Report of the Director.
2. To approve the Report of the Chairman and the National Executive Council.
3. To elect two members to serve on the National Executive Council for a term of three years. Nominations close at 1:30pm on Thursday, 19 November 2015.

Full details and a nomination form can be found on our website.

If you are interested in standing for election to the Council and would like to discuss, please contact Patricia Callan on tel 01 605 1602 or email patricia.callan@sfa.ie. If you are planning to attend the AGM, please register on our website. 

SFA Members Christmas Drinks
 
Monday, 7 December

The SFA Members Christmas Drinks will take place on Monday, 7 December 2015 from 6.00pm-8.30pm in the Cliff Townhouse, 22 Stephen's Green, Dublin 2. The evening is intended to be informal and attendance is free of charge but you must pre-register on our website.

The purpose of the evening is to give members an opportunity to meet each other and develop business contacts.  Feel free to bring a plus one but please pre-register them.

Refreshments and food will be of a traditional fare.

SFA IN THE MEDIA
Press coverage
The SFA Annual Lunch was in the media this week
SFA Annual Lunch

The SFA Annual Lunch was held on Friday, 6 November in the Convention Centre Dublin with keynote speaker Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan.

The event was covered in the press on:

Department of Finance SME Lending Survey

On 9 November the SFA issued a press comment on the Department of Finance SME Lending Survey, you can read the full statement on our website