SFA Fortnightly Update
After taking a short break, welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine. Please keep an eye on further communications today from SFA Senior Executive Stephen Brown regarding the impending Government announcement on reopening plans.
Free to SMEs nationwide, MentorsWork 12-week business-support programme provides targeted supports to help business leaders sustain and improve their business - apply now to get started on your pathways to business success.
Read about a recent case that highlights the obligation on employers to properly investigate and respond to complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace when €15,000 was awarded to a worker whose employer failed to investigate allegations. As offices prepare to reopen in the next few weeks it is important that they carry out a full risk assessment of the workplace including ensuring the water supply and wastewater systems are safe.
Is your small business ready to welcome back staff to the office? Are you up to date on recent employment law legislation that directly impacts your business? Register now for the SFA Employment Law Seminar, a half-day virtual event on Thursday, 23 September.
There will be 300 small business featured during Champion Green week from from 6-12 September; for your chance to get involved, submit your businesses best €10 treat.
Finally, read our article on the Government approval of the new Corporate Enforcement Authority, and don't forget to check out our latest 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit our website.
SFA in the media
- Champion Green
The Champion Green compeition to win a ‘readymade retail’ opportunity worth €50,000 to mark their first anniversary was featured on Newstalk and MSN
The SFA and Skillnet Ireland free business support programme MentorsWork was featured across numerous outlets this week, including RTE, Business & Finance and Wicklow Times. Check out the programme and apply today here.
The SFA was featured in the Irish Examiner and the Northern Standard regarding reopning plans for the Events sector following our recent press release calling for the minister to be invited to the cabinet sub-committee.
Government has approved the publication of the Companies Bill 2021
Read on about the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2021...
The Bill will establish the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) as a separate body, rather than its current form as an office within the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (the Department). The new body will be named the Corporate Enforcement Authority (Authority) and its functions and powers will include those currently held by the ODCE, with additional powers and functions to give it more flexibility and autonomy.
It is intended that the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2021 will be introduced to the Houses of the Oireachtas in September 2021. The new functions include:
- Encouraging compliance with the Companies Act 2014
- Investigations of suspected offences and non-compliance under that act
- Prosecution of summary offences
- Referring indictable offences to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and
- The exercise of certain supervisory functions with respect to liquidators and receivers
The Bill provides for up to three full time commissioners, entitled Members, one of whom would be designated as Chairperson of the CEA. It is designed to give the new Authority the flexibility to structure itself in future to meet the differing and evolving demands of its remit, which includes investigation, prosecution, supervision, and advocacy, and along clear lines of responsibility.
The Bill gives the CEA the ability to appoint its own staff. As for the ODCE, there is provision in the Bill for secondment of Gardaí to the CEA. The Bill also includes a section on the accountability of the CEA to Oireachtas Committees.
The SFA will be monitoring the passage and debates on the bill and will inform members of any upcoming changes.
€15,000 awarded following failure to investigate sexual harassment allegations
The recent case highlights the obligation on employers to properly investigate and respond to complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace...
The recent case A Chef v A Restaurant  30 E.L.R. 37, heard before the Workplace Relations Commission, highlights the obligation on employers to properly investigate and respond to complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The case concerned allegations made by a female restaurant worker that a chef continuously made inappropriate sexual comments towards her including comments about her body and her hair and that he would rub against her in a sexual manner as he walked past her. The complainant cited specific incidents of alleged sexual harassment which included one incident when the chef allegedly grabbed her, bit her neck and pulled her clothing and another whereby she claimed that he followed her outside while she was having a cigarette, pushed her against the bins and tried to kiss her.
The respondent did not have a complaints procedure in place to deal with cases of sexual harassment. The complainant made the head chef aware of her concerns on several occasions but did not believe that she was being taken seriously. Ultimately, she complained to the owner. The owner held a meeting with the complainant but did not conduct an investigation into the complaints. The owner told the Adjudication Officer that he wanted to assess “just how uncomfortable” the complainant was before he decided whether to deal with the matter formally or informally. While he took minutes of the meeting he had with the complainant, he inaccurately recorded what the complainant had told him and amended the minutes to state that the chef’s actions had been in jest, which the complainant had not said. The owner put the allegations to the chef, who admitted to them. Despite this, the owner did not discipline the chef and instead transferred him to a sister restaurant. He further advised the complainant not to hold a grudge.
The complainant alleged that after the chef was transferred, she found it very difficult to work in the restaurant. She claimed that the other staff would make comments such as “be careful or she might report you” and that she believed the head chef was angry at her. The complainant went out on sick leave and ultimately resigned and claimed constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 – 2015.
The Adjudication Officer found that the complainant had satisfied the test for constructive dismissal and demonstrated that there had been a significant breach going to the root of the contract. In making an award of €15,000, the Adjudication Officer criticised the manner in which the owner handled the allegations made by the complainant, in particular the amendment of the meeting minutes and the failure to suspend or discipline the chef. The Adjudicator noted that “those are not the thoughts or actions of an employer who takes sexual harassment seriously.”
This case highlights the requirement for employers to have proper procedures in place to respond to complaints of harassment in the workplace and the necessity to address such complaints in a timely manner and in accordance with the principles of natural justice.
As offices prepare to reopen in the next few weeks it is important that they carry out a full risk assessment of the workplace including ensuring the water supply and wastewater systems are safe...
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria are naturally found in water and as a result can enter man-made water systems. Under certain conditions the bacteria can grow and multiply. Infection can occur by breathing in small droplets/aerosols of water contaminated by the bacteria. Conditions that encourage Legionella growth include:
- Water temperatures in the range 20 – 45 degrees Celsius.
- Water stagnation – for example, if there is poor daily turnover of water, lack of water use or flushing or if there are dead legs in the water system.
- Presence of nutrients such as scale, sediment, rust, dirt. For example, if a water system has been drained down, rust may have developed.
For some businesses, it has been over a year and a half since anyone has entered the building, while others have had reduced occupancy and may be at increased risk. If water is left standing in plumbing systems and storage tanks for too long, harmful bacteria can grow and multiply, causing serious illness such as Legionnaires’ disease when re-used again. Employers need to consider whether they have adequately controlled the risk of Legionella.
Bringing your water systems safely back into use
- Flush water pipes by running taps until the water temperature is constant and mains water is drawn through the system
- Clean all drinking water outlets with suitable disinfectants
- Flush all toilets, and run water through sinks and shower basins, to ensure that the water trap seal is replenished in the u-bends
- Inspect all storage tanks and cisterns, and drain, clean, disinfect and refill as necessary;
- Clean shower-heads with disinfectant and flush water through until clean, with a minimum temperature of 60°C for hot water showers
- Empty hot water tanks and refill with water heated to 70° C for at least an hour before use
- Replace filter cartridges in water filters and clean & disinfect the cartridge holder according to manufacturer’s instructions, then run water through to flush clear
- Check pumps on the building’s water/wastewater system to ensure that they are operating correctly
- Check sewer & drains and clear any blockages promptly
- On-site wastewater treatment systems should be checked to ensure they are operating correctly
The Health Safety Authority provide employers with guidance and advice for removing the risk of Legionnaires’ disease in their workplace. For advice, view the HSA's guidance on the Control of Legionella. If you have any further questions you can contact Emma Crowley on 01 605 1668 or at email@example.com
Register Now | SFA Employment Law Seminar
Register now for the virtual Employment Law Seminar on 23 September to ensure you are up to day with recent legislation as well as redundancies, occupational health and safety and employee wellbeing...
The last year has presented a variety of challenges for small business owners, mangers and HR professionals. With many businesses welcoming back their staff, it is essential that you are prepared for a smooth transition.
Do you know how to handle re-entry anxiety amongst your employees? Is your office prepared for Covid-19 related Health & Safety? Join us on 23 September for the SFA Employment Law Seminar when we will be covering essential Employment Law and HR topics, delivered directly to you from industry experts to ensure success in your small business.
Increase your knowledge on redundancies, occupational health and safety and employee wellbeing, which has become a big topic of concern. You will also receive practical and timely advice on new employment law legislation and codes of practice such as the remote working legislation, and the code of practice on the right to disconnect.
- Re-entry Anxiety | Employers need to be aware of the potential of re-entry anxiety amongst their employees and learn how they can support their wellbeing and manage any issues that may arise.
- Recruitment v Redundancy | Although some businesses had to close their doors for over 12 months, some firms experienced huge growth in sales and customer expectations, bringing in the dilemma of staff retention and attrition.
- Covid-19: Workplace Health & Safety | We will look at some of the specific duties of employers under current legislation and government guidance to ensure the safety, health and welfare of employees, providing business owners with guidance and a deeper understanding of their health and safety obligations.
- HR Update | Hear from an Ibec industry expert who will look at issues coming down the tracks for employers, such as Statutory Sick Pay, Remote and Flexible Working and changes to Family leave.
This half-day virtual seminar is not to be missed by anyone involved in the operation and running of your small business - so make sure you join us 23 September at 9.30am to gain insight on these critical topics from industry experts to make sure your small business is ready to welcome back your staff with ease.
You can now see the brochure here - Register now to secure your place.
Submit Your Top ‘€10 Treat’ To Feature in Champion Green Week
Champion Green will be promoting the first 300 businesses to sign up to '€10 Treats' - submit your small businesses €10 treat here...
Have you heard about Champion green's Tenner Treats? Champion Green want to help promote your business by highlighting the first 300 businesses who submit their top €10 deal on the Champion Green website.
We’re calling on all small businesses to submit your top €10 offer! Not only are we interested in bargains and discounts but also businesses who were doing their bit for charity or offering any other value added promotion. Get your offer listed on the Champion Green website for Champion Green week.
Champion Green Week takes place from 6th – 12th September 2021. The aim is to celebrate all things local and encourage shoppers to continue to support Irish businesses as we enter into the busiest shopping period of the year.
If you have any queries, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to spread the word with other small businesses in your area!
There are only 300 spots available so make sure to submit your offer here ahead of Champion Green week
Turning tendering into a revenue channel to fuel growth
- 1 September, 11.00am - 12.00pm
This is the final webinar of the series
The biggest B2B channel in Ireland is the public sector channel. Therefore, taking part in public tenders should be a key consideration for any business that is serious about sustainable growth - public contracts in Ireland were worth €17 Billion in 2020 and were won by thousands of businesses across the country.
This is the final webinar in the 3-part webinar series on 'Bidding strategies for sustainable growth' brought to us by the experts at Orbidal.
The webinar series is an enlightening journey into what makes a great tender proposal and how to consistently deliver high scoring proposals that generate sustainable revenues. A winning proposal is a combination of preparation, competitive positioning, data-driven decision making and articulating a value proposition that resonates with the buyer. It must also be cost-effective and deliver a measurable return on investment to be sustainable. In this webinar, 'Turning tendering into a revenue channel to fuel growth', we will cover:
- Decision Making – When to compete
- Understanding of Need, Win Themes, Proof Points & Value Propositions
- Building reusable content to accelerate proposal development
- Driving continuous improvement through feedback and analysis
At the end of this webinar you will know exactly how you can sustainably grow your business through tendering.
Click here to register.
Employment Law Seminar
The landscape around Irish employment law continues to rise and grow in complexity year on year. For small businesses who have to wear multiple hats within their company, the past year and a half has been particularly challenging for them.
Experience an informative and in-depth virtual seminar on 23 September, 2021 at the SFA Employment Law Seminar where we will explore HR topics and recent advancements this year, with discussions led by employment law experts. On top of increasing your knowledge on redundancies and occupational health & safety, you will also take away key insights on employee wellbeing which has become a big topic of concern. You will also receive practical and timely advice on new employment law legislations and codes of practice such as the remote working legislation, and the code of practice on the right to disconnect. This seminar will not only provide you with best practice approaches to ensure compliance with employment law, but it will also create the space for discussion.
The impact of COVID-19 on employees not only includes the risks to their physical health, but also their mental health. As employers have been developing plans to bring employees back into the workplace a new term has come to light; ‘re-entry anxiety’. Employers need to be aware of the potential of re-entry anxiety amongst their employees and learn how they can support their wellbeing and manage any issues that may arise. Fiona Mulligan, Childhood Services Ireland (CSI) HR Executive will talk through guidance on simple, effective measures to help reduce stress and anxiety whilst supporting your employee’s overall wellbeing in the workplace.
Recruitment v Redundancy
A wide range of sectors are facing conflicting challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some businesses had to close their doors for over 12 months, some firms experienced huge growth in sales and customer expectations. This brings the dilemma of staff retention and attrition. Emma Crowley, SFA HR Executive will present on challenges businesses are facing and will provide best practice and guidance in overcoming them.
Covid-19: Workplace Health & Safety
We will look at some of the specific duties of employers under current legislation and government guidance to ensure the safety, health and welfare of employees, providing business owners with guidance and a deeper understanding of their health and safety obligations. Employers will receive an overview of Government guidance such as the Work Safely Protocol and Health Safety Authority’s resources to enable businesses to maintain a safe workplace and prevent risk against COVID-19 transmission. Remote working will also be a particular focus and responsibilities for both employers and employees will be addressed.
Business disruptions caused by several lockdowns and reopenings have affected every type of business with employer's having to implement a variety of protocols. Join us for an HR update with an Ibec industry expert who will look at issues coming down the tracks for employers, such as Statutory Sick Pay, Remote and Flexible Working and changes to Family leave. They will also provide an update on recent changes in other pieces of Employment Law and HR and will provide guidance on how to best prepare for them.
This seminar is not to be missed by any small business owner, manager or HR professional looking to make sure their business is fully up to date with current legislation and to prepare for a return to office.
SFA Skillnet Ireland Masterclasses
Learn how to reduce waste and improve profits and cash flow in your business with our Award-winning business support programme...
Last week, MentorsWork won the Best Coaching/Mentoring Initiative at the Irish Institute of Training and Development Awards. Don't miss your opportunity to get the support you need for your small business - for free!
Register interest for one of the following Masterclasses below, available through Skillnet Ireland which are available on a first come, first served basis to get a sneak peak at the many innovative sessions that are running as part of the MentorsWork programme. Please see our website for more information or to apply.
Alternatively, if you would like to attend any of the individual sessions listed below, please register by filling in this short form with your details and we will be in touch.
Masterclass | Get your Business found Online with Search Engine Optimisation strategies
- Thurs 2 Sep 1:00pm - 2.00pm
Getting your business and services found online is more important than ever in today's digital world. It requires the knowledge and know-how to optimise your website and services for both search engines and people. This practical masterclass covers the key methods and strategies you need to know and implement to ensure your business, products and/ or services get found online.
Masterclass | Working from Anywhere: Effective Virtual Leadership
- Fri 3 September 10.00am - 11.00am
This Masterclass will focus on how technology helps us bridge the gap between the physical and virtual work environments, however to be an effective virtual leader you need to make a strong human connection with your team. Virtual leadership is challenging as companies need to find new ways to collaborate, engage, retain and lead remote teams and identify the optimal technologies to support these practices. This workshop will address these most commonly encountered issues providing a set of best practices and skills to support you in this new world of virtual work.
Masterclass | How to win new customers in an all-digital world
- Thurs 9 Sep 1:00pm - 2.00pm
We live in a noisy digital world, so how can you stand out from the crowd to attract and win new customers? This deep dive practical masterclass is for business owners looking to find cost-effective ways to win new clients digitally through popular social media platforms. Attendees will leave buzzing with tangible takeaways they can instantly implement in their business.
Masterclass | Innovation: The art of the possible for Business
- Tues 14 Sep 10:30am - 11. 30am
This masterclass explores innovation and creativity. It shines a light on the barriers to creativity and how to overcome them, creating a culture where bright ideas flourish. You'll learn how to promote innovation and innovative processes throughout your company, how to develop and gather ideas to make strategic long-term plans that foster growth using creative and innovative thinking skills.
If you would like to attend this session which is part of our MentorsWork Programme, please register here with your details and we will be in touch.