SFA Fortnightly Update
 

Dear Member, 

 

After a short summer break, welcome back to this edition of the SFA e-zine. 

 

Make sure to keep an eye out on our social media channels and website for the launch of the 2021 SFA National Small Business Awards, coming soon!

 

Today, I am delighted to announce the launch of our Sentiment Survey for members to share their feedback on key trends in the small business sector. I ask all members to take part.

 

We invite you to register for the SFA Employment Law Seminar, taking place on 16 September 2020. This online half-day event will look at family leave in small firms, investigations and disciplinarians, workplace health and safety as well as a guest speaker on mental health stigma in the workplace.

 

In this edition we remind members that they have until 5th October to examine their practices regarding the use of website Cookies and other tracking technologies, taking account of the new guidance issued by the Irish Data Protection Commission.

 

Take a look at our guide showing you how to take a proactive approach to manage employee wellbeing to see improved productivity, higher staff retention and a reduction in absenteeism and presenteeism.

 

Take a look at the recently published IE Domain Registry Tipping Point survey which assessed the attitudes and responses to the Covid-19 crisis of 1,000 Irish consumers and 500 retail and customer-facing professional services SMEs. Finally, we also provide 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 our website.

 

Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director

 


SFA IN THE MEDIA
SFA in the media
 
  • Wage Subsidy Scheme
  • RTE Boost My Business
  • SFA Member - Prodigy Learning

Wage Subsidy Scheme

SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens was mentioned in the Irish Times and Irish Examiner regarding the new wage subsidy scheme to be re-examined over cashflow concerns.

 

RTE Boost My Business

The SFA and Director Sven were featured in the RTE Boost My Business campaign which launched in early August. 


SFA Member: Prodigy Learning

SFA Awards Exporter of the Year 2019 Winners, Prodigy Learning wins contract to provide online 'Drumcondra' test.

NEWS
Input Needed: SFA Sentiment Survey
 

Share your feedback on key trends in the small business sector...


The SFA has launched a Sentiment Survey for members to share their feedback on key trends in the small business sector. The results of this survey will provide the SFA with useful information on how small firms in Ireland perceive the economy, COVID-19 supports and Brexit.

 

To participate please click here - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SFASentimentSurvey

 

Your survey responses will help us in our efforts voicing small business concerns with central government and allow us to track key trends in the small business sector, which we look forward to publishing later this month with an accompanying media release.

 

Please contact elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie if you have any questions about this survey.  

 

 

Employee Wellbeing
 

Take a proactive approach with employee wellbeing following the impacts of Covid-19...


Covid-19 has impacted how we work and has presented new challenges which are impacting our mental health

A business that takes a preventative approach to work related stress and who proactively manages the wellbeing of its employees will see improved productivity, higher staff retention and a reduction in absenteeism and presenteeism.

 

Understanding work related stress

According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) guideline on work related stress, they define stress as “the negative reaction people have to aspects of their environment as they perceive it,” and it goes on to state that “Work Related Stress is stress caused or made by work.” 

 

This year’s lockdown proved to have a great impact on stress levels in Ireland. LinkedIn reported a spike in anxiety and loneliness among the professions working from home. It is without a doubt the same feelings of anxiety and stress were felt by those who temporarily or permanently lost their job due to Covid-19. We are experiencing a period of uncertainty for our health, wellbeing, employment, and social lives – this in turn creates additional stress and anxiety.  

    

Measuring employee psychological wellbeing 

Whilst it is important to understand the potential causes to workplace wellbeing, it is important to note that stress and work-related stress varies from individual to individual. Safeguarding one’s health from the effects of stress is based on the same approach as that for safeguarding against toxic chemicals or dangerous machinery. It is worth considering objective and anonymous methods of measuring the overall psychological wellbeing of your workforce. 

 

An excellent method of achieving this if your business has ten or more employees is using the WorkPositive Tool. This is a confidential free online tool developed by the HSA that helps businesses find ways to improve employee wellbeing. It helps identify and measure psychosocial risks and workplace stressors. It provides online reports so that businesses can see their risk areas and it provides guidance on improving employee wellbeing.

 

Other methods of measuring employee wellbeing could be via anonymous online surveys such as SurveyMonkey, Google Docs or Microsoft Forms. The SFA partnered with DeCare who have a wealth of information on employee wellbeing on our Grow, Scale, Succeed platform.

 

Collaborate with staff for solutions 

This collaborative approach means that both the employer and employee engage with each other to tackle work related stress. Collaboration increases employee relations and can create excellent ideas to resolve or minimise psychosocial hazards. 

 

Implement a policy and procedure to manage and control work related stress issues 

Once you have gathered your information from your employees you should create either a policy or action plan to manage and control work related stress issues. Providers such as DeCare can assist businesses in developing a policy. 

 

A clear grievance procedure should be established to reassure employees, who are often reluctant to admit they are having difficulty coping, that they will be listened to and helped if they come forward. This is also an important tool in monitoring the effectiveness of the safeguards. Counselling should be provided where breakdowns occur in the safeguards, and work reassessments carried out.

 

Taking a proactive approach to tackling work-related stress in the workplace ensures that absenteeism and grievances will be minimised which means that productivity, employee health and morale will be more enhanced. 

 

To learn more about managing stress and wellness watch back our mental health and COVID-19 webinar from earlier this year.

 

Read the latest edition of SFA Better Business magazine which includes articles on the role of wellness in the recovery from COVID-19, healthy eating tips and information on to put in place grievance procedures.

 

Join us at the at the SFA Online Employment Law Seminar 2020 on 16 September 2020 where you will hear from Dave Casey of DeCare Dental about how to work towards wellness in your organisation.  

 

  

Are your Cookies & website tracking technologies compliant?
 

Examine your practices regarding the use of website Cookies and other tracking technologies, taking account of the new guidance issued by the Irish Data Protection Commission...


In April the Irish Data Protection Commission issued its report on ‘the use of Cookies and other tracking technologies’. This report outlined that businesses are required to examine their practices regarding the use of website Cookies and other tracking technologies, taking account of the DPC’s newly published guidance, and, where they identify any areas of non-compliance, to bring them into compliance by 5th October 2020.

 

Business has until 5th October to voluntarily remedy any identified issues of non-compliance. Failure to voluntarily remedy any identified issues of non-compliance by 5th October may result in further enforcement action by DPC.

 

View a recent webinar with representatives from the DPC exploring their recent report and guidance note. They also set out very clearly what they expect to be in place by the 5 October 2020 deadline in respect of Cookies and apps and similar technologies and their enforcement strategy. Following on from their presentation Colm MacCarvill, from Squarespace shared some practical insights and advice on what controllers need to have in place by 5 October to ensure they are compliant.

 

Members are advised to familiarise themselves with the guidance and to speak to their website provider for more information.

 

Key takeaways from the DPC's guidance include the following:  

  • The rules set out in the guidance are applicable not only to cookies but also to other tracking technologies, including local storage objects (LSOs) or ‘flash’ cookies, software development kits (SDKs), pixel trackers (or pixel gifs), ‘like’ buttons and social sharing tools, and device fingerprinting technologies.
  • The general rule is that it is necessary to get consent in order to store or set cookies, regardless of whether the cookies or other tracking technologies actually contain personal data. The ePrivacy requirements apply when any information is stored on or accessed from the user's device. Additionally, where cookies contain identifiers that may be used to target a specific individual, or where information is derived from cookies and other tracking technologies that may be used to target or profile individuals, this constitute personal data and its processing is also subject to the rules set out in the GDPR.
  • Reminder that the consent for the setting of cookies must be of the standard defined in the GDPR, Article 4(11), which requires that the ‘consent’ of the data subject be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes".
  • There are two exemptions to the requirement to obtain consent:
    • the 'communications exemption': cookies whose sole purpose is for carrying out the transmission of a communication over a network, for example to identify the communication endpoints.
    • The 'strictly necessary exemption': The exemption applies to an ‘information society service’ (i.e. a service delivered over the internet) explicitly requested by the user and the use of the cookie must be restricted to what is strictly necessary to provide that service.
  • Analytics cookies require consent, however the guidance states that it is "unlikely that first-party analytics cookies would be considered a priority for enforcement action by the DPC".
  • Consent may not be “bundled” for multiple purposes. It is not permitted to ‘bundle’ consent for cookies with consent for other purposes, or with terms and conditions for a contract for other services. It is also not permitted to use pre-checked boxes, sliders or other tools set to ‘ON’ by default to signal a user’s consent to the setting or use of cookies. Finally, the user must be able to withdraw consent as easily as they gave it.
  • If cookies are used to store a record on the user's device that a user has given consent to the use of cookies, then the user should be asked to reaffirm their consent no longer than six months after the consent state has been stored. The DPC notes that "while the legislation does not prescribe a specific lifespan for such cookies, based on a first-principles analysis by the DPC, we consider this to be the appropriate default outer timeframe for storing the user’s consent state. A controller would need to objectively and on a case-by-case basis justify storage for a longer period."
  • No specific rule on how consent should be obtained. The guidance simply states: "Most websites choose to implement a cookie banner or pop-up, which displays when a user lands on the website and which provides the first layer of information about the use of cookies and other tracking technologies. This banner or notice will also often contain a link to a cookies policy and a privacy policy which provide further, more detailed information."
  • Wording in the cookie banner or notice which inform users that, by their continued use of the website – through either clicking, using or scrolling it - that their consent to set cookies is assumed, is not permissible. It is not possible to obtain consent by ‘implication’ to set cookies. Cookie banners that disappear when a user scrolls, without any further engagement by the user, are also not permissible.
  • Even though there may sometimes be duplication in the information provided in the cookies policy and privacy policy, it is good practice to maintain both, in order to facilitate the different layers of information required under the ePrivacy requirements and the GDPR.
  • Pre-checked boxes and sliders do not comply with European law, as has been clarified in the Planet49 judgment issued in October 2019.
  • If a third-party consent management provider (CMP) is used, the tool or software must do what it purports to do, and it must not contain pre-checked boxes signaling ‘consent’ for the use of cookies. The length of time such consent is valid for is no longer than six months, after which time the user must be prompted to give their consent again.
  • Users of the website cannot be deemed to have consented simply because they are using a browser or other application which, by default, enables the collection and processing of their information.
  • If cookies are used to track the location of a device or a user, this can only be done with the user’s consent.
  • Accessibility should be taken into account in relation to the design of interfaces, for example colour schemes for cookie banners or sliders and checkboxes that blend into the overall background of a site may make a website harder to navigate, particularly for people with vision impairments or colour blindness.
  • A website operator should consider its relationship with any third party whose assets deploy on the website. For example, where features such as ‘like’ buttons, plugins or widgets, pixel trackers or social media-sharing tools are deployed, the website operator should be aware of what data is being sent to third parties and that the website operator may be considered a controller in respect of any personal data collected and disclosed to those third parties. This position was set out by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Fashion ID judgment case in July 2019.
  • The lifespan of a cookie must be proportionate to its function. The DPC does not consider it proportionate to have a session cookie with a lifespan of ‘forever’, for example.   

For further assistance on this and other GDPR issues please contact Emma Crowley, SFA Executive on 016051668 or email emma.crowley@sfa.ie.  

 

 

New IE Domain Registry Report
 

TIPPING POINT - How e-commerce can reignite Ireland’s post-Covid-19 economy...


The recently published IE Domain Registry Tipping Point survey assessed the attitudes and responses to the Covid-19 crisis of 1,000 Irish consumers and 500 retail and customer-facing professional services SMEs. The survey looked at three distinct phases: before the crisis, during it, and intended behaviour after the crisis is controlled. Here are some key data points to understand how digitalisation can reignite Ireland’s economy:

  1. 72% of consumers have either spent more online during the Covid-19 crisis or the same amount as before. 95% of all consumers shop online at least some of the time. Generally speaking, Covid-19 has done little to dampen this demand. 

  1. 53% of consumers’ online spend since the Covid-19 crisis has been with Irish SMEs. International retailers have historically dominated Irish e-commerce. 

  1. 67% of consumers who have done most of their online shopping with Irish businesses say they have done so out of a sense of solidarity. This may indicate that Irish SMEs are currently riding a temporary wave of national goodwill. 

  1. 48% of consumers would still do most of their shopping in physical stores if Covid-19 were under control and social distancing were not required. The other half would either shop in-store only for necessities; or shop mostly online. This underscores the need for SMEs to provide an omni-channel experience. 

  1. Just 25% of SMEs sell online. This is despite the huge amount of money being spent online by Irish consumers before and during the Covid-19 crisis. 

  1. 79% of SMEs with websites have invested nothing in their online services during the Covid-19 crisis. 63% of those who did invest said it was easy but they required some form of outside help. 

  1. 46% of SMEs that have invested in online services during the Covid-19 crisis are busier than or as busy as before. Investing in online creates more ways to generate revenue and connect with customers. 

  1. 53% of SMEs believe that consumers will buy in-store and online after the Covid-19 crisis. SMEs’ opinions are aligned with consumer sentiment. There is an understanding of omni-channel among SMEs, but just a quarter of them sell online. 

The full report can be downloaded here

EVENTS
Thinking Ahead: Managing Cashflow & Financial Supports
 
  • 3 September

This 1-hour webinar will focus on tactics and strategies for small businesses in relation to managing cash and working capital. This starts with getting an understanding a business’s current position and future cash needs. We will also look at how to engage with key stakeholders to get cash-in and reduce/streamline cash-out, managing cost cutting to help survival and face a new/different future.

 

The webinar will also analyse the various supports available, including funding from Government, SBCI, Enterprise Ireland, Banks and external investors. It will drill down into eligibility for the various schemes, how to go about tapping into these schemes and funding sources and the current status of schemes and their take up.

 

The webinar will be delivered by Peter O’Carroll, Managing Director of Ampere Advisors, a boutique consultancy specialised in financial advice for small businesses.

 

Register now.

 

The Thinking Ahead webinar series, which is 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 Flogas.

SFA Online Employment Law Seminar
 
  • 16 September

Experience an informative and in-depth seminar from the comfort and convenience of your home or office on 16 September, 2020. The Small Firms Association’s Employment Law Seminar will delve deep into hot topics and recent advancements since Covid-19.

 

It will focus on the future of HR and will provide a collaborative channel to generate an awareness of relevant Employment Law. The SFA will explore a range of topics, with discussions led by employment law experts. On the day, you will increase your knowledge on Family Leave and how to manage investigations and disciplinaries.

You will receive practical and timely advice to help shape your workplace in this "new" normal. The seminar will stimulate your understanding of how best to minimise the impacts of Covid-19 on your business, and create the space for discussion on this.

 

Agenda

9.30 Introduction and Welcome SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens
9.40 Managing Family Leave in a Small firm
10.25 Coffee Break
10.45 Investigations and Disciplinaries
11.30 Covid19: Workplace Health and Safety
12.15 Motivational Speaker | Dave Casey, DeCare Dental
12.45 Q&A | Closing Comments

 

Book today!

TRAINING PROGRAMMES
SFA Online Employment Law Seminar
 

Experience an informative and in-depth seminar from the comfort and convenience of your home or office on 16 September, 2020...


Experience an informative and in-depth seminar from the comfort and convenience of your home or office on 16 September, 2020. The Small Firms Association’s Employment Law Seminar will delve deep into hot topics and recent advancements since Covid-19.

 

It will focus on the future of HR and will provide a collaborative channel to generate an awareness of relevant Employment Law. The SFA will explore a range of topics, with discussions led by employment law experts. On the day, you will increase your knowledge on Family Leave and how to manage investigations and disciplinaries.

 

You will receive practical and timely advice to help shape your workplace in this "new" normal. The seminar will stimulate your understanding of how best to minimise the impacts of Covid-19 on your business, and create the space for discussion on this.

 

Agenda

9.30 Introduction and Welcome SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens
9.40 Managing Family Leave in a Small firm
10.25 Coffee Break
10.45 Investigations and Disciplinaries
11.30 Covid19: Workplace Health and Safety
12.15 Motivational Speaker | Dave Casey, DeCare Dental
12.45 Q&A | Closing Comments


Check out the full brochure and register today.