SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


With Spring in the air and that grand stretch appearing in the evenings, it's time to start thinking of ways to upskill and train, either for yourself or your team.  We have many options available for you through our Training that Counts programme. This week we are looking at project management courses.


We are taking a break from ourGDPR tip of the week to launch our GDPR in Action workshop which takes place on Friday the 09 March, places are limited so please make sure to book early to avoid missing out.


Last Friday the SFA made a submission to the Low Wage Commission, calling for the minimum wage to remain at €9.55, you can see the full submission in this article


SFA in association with Bord Gais hosted a really interesting Business Bytes session, highlighting the resources and supports available to new and micro businesses, read the article below to find links to the presentations. One of the interesting topics from the night was the importance of a business having a web presence. This can also been seen in the below article about the increase in dot ie domain registrations in 2017.


In our weeklu HR article we also have some FAQ's for how to deal with a staff member who is called for jury service


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
  • GDPR


On Sunday the 11 February, SFA was referred to in an article in The Sunday Times (Ireland Edition) on the topic of GDPR, mentioning our new GDPR in Action workshop due to take place on the 09 March.  Make sure to reguster your place here

GDPR Practical workshop – Join us for this interactive GDPR event on 9 March

This week we pause our tip of the week to share two announcements: the launch of our interactive GDPR workshop on 9 March and, the Irish Data Protection Bill 2018 has just been published. Read on for more details on how to book on our workshop and where to download the Data Protection Bill…..

On Friday 9 March from 8am to 11am we will be hosting a practical, interactive GDPR workshop whereby attendees will be presented with three case studies to explore a specific GDPR issue. These are:

  • Understanding a data retention policy and preparing for data access requests
  • Gaining knowledge on acquiring and documenting consent in relation to marketing activities
  • Preparing a contingency plan for a data breach and key considerations around it

Attendees at the event will receive a copy of our new GDPR publication, which will be launched on the day. The event is FREE to SFA members and is €95 for non-members. Places are very limited so book your place today.


On 30 January the Irish Data Protection Bill 2018 was published and is now available on the GDPR portal on the SFA website here.  


Next week we will look at privacy notices and what should be included in them.  In the meantime you can avail of the GDPR toolkit to conduct your GDPR audit from the SFA website which you can download here.


If you would like more information on GDPR or to discuss your requirements further please contact Helen at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our GDPR section on www.sfa.ie

Jury Service FAQs

This week we share another series of FAQs, this time on jury service leave which requires that any individual who is selected for jury service be given paid time off for the time and duration of jury service as well as other employer obligations in relation to jury service leave. Read on to learn more…

The Juries Act 1976 places a civic duty on individuals to provide jury service when chosen to do so by random selection.  The Act has a number of provisions aimed specifically at an employer’s obligations to employees who are requested to undertake jury service. We have set out these obligations through a series of FAQs


Does our business have to provide paid time off for employees who attend jury service?

Yes, the employer must allow the employee to take paid time off to attend jury service where required. This also includes when an employee is summonsed for jury service but may not actually be called on to serve on the jury panel.


Does this apply to temporary and agency workers?

Yes, if a temporary or agency worker has been called to jury service they must be given paid time off to attend.


Is this protected leave?

Yes, an employee’s employment is protected for the duration of their jury service. At the end of jury service leave, they are entitled to return to their original job under terms and conditions no less favourable than those which would have applied if they had not been absent.


This is our busiest time of year; can we request that the employee does not attend jury service?

The employer is prohibited from stopping an employee from fulfilling their civic duty to attend jury service, however, an employer can ask the employee, if they agree, to make an application to be excused which outlines the reason why they are unable to attend. It is important to note that the decision to grant the application is at the discretion of the County Registrar. If the application is refused the employee must be allowed to attend jury service.


How can application to be excused be made?

Employees should state their reasons as fully as possible on the J2 form that is attached to the original summons, explaining why they should be excused and send it to the County Registrar. The application should include any certificates or documents in support of their application.


An employee has been called to give evidence for a civil / criminal case, are they entitled to paid time off?

No, jury service should not be confused with a situation where an employee has been requested or subpoenaed to provide evidence in civil law or criminal proceedings. In such a case, there is no entitlement to paid time off work. However, the organisation may, at its discretion, decide to allow the employee to avail of either annual leave or unpaid leave.


Is the employee entitled to annual leave and public holiday entitlements?

Yes, employees continue to accrue annual leave and are entitled to their full public holidays.


How much notice should an employee give when called to jury service?

An employee should provide written notification to you that they need to avail of jury service leave. This should be received as soon as possible after they have received the jury service summons. You can request that the written notice includes evidence of the times and dates that they are required to attend court.


In the instance that an employee is required to attend part of a working day for jury service leave, can I request they return to work?

Yes, an employee must return to work immediately after they have been released from court. For each day they attend jury service, they should provide you with a certificate of attendance from the County Registrar evidencing the dates and times of their jury service.


If you would like more information on jury leave and employer obligations, please contact Helen at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our HR and Employment Law advice section on www.sfa.ie/advice

SFA calls for minimum wage to remain at €9.55/hour in the face of threats to competitiveness

In its annual submission to the Low Pay Commission, the SFA has called for the National Minimum Wage to remain constant in 2019. In light of threats to competitiveness and the varied circumstances of businesses, the SFA believes that firm level negotiation remains the most appropriate method for setting wages.

On 9 February, the SFA made a written submission to the Low Pay Commission on the appropriate level for the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The SFA called for the NMW rate to remain at €9.55 in 2019. This is the preference of two-thirds of SFA members as expressed in a flash survey last week.


The submission focused on the threats to competitiveness if the NMW continues to rise. It has increased by 10.4% since 2015, outstripping average wage increases across the economy and well ahead of inflation, which has been minimal over the period. The submission suggests that at the current economic juncture, cost competitiveness is of upmost importance if Ireland is to avoid repeating the mistakes of its recent past. Policy should take the path of least harm as the economy navigates this critical period.


The submission also analyses new data from the Central Statistics Office that shows that minimum wage workers are predominantly young workers, carrying out basic tasks on a part-time basis. In the labour market as a whole, unemployment is declining but those that remain on the Live Register face challenges to entering employment due to their circumstances (low skilled, young people and the long term unemployed). It is important that no additional barriers to employment are created.   

Furthermore, a detailed examination of economic activity in certain sectors and regions demonstrates the varied circumstances and prospects of businesses. SFA members have identified wage pressures as the biggest threat to their businesses in 2018. Taking these factors into account, the submission states that across the board pay increases are not appropriate at this time. Firm level negotiation remains the most appropriate method for setting wages, taking into account the performance of the business and of the individual employee.


The full SFA submission is available here.


More information about the Low Pay Commission can be found here.

Business Bytes
Business Bytes, no twitter

Last week we had our Business Bytes session, helping new and micro businesses to understand what supports are out there for their business.  The event was held in the stunning Wood Quay venue and really highlighted the investments being made available to new and micro business. 

This seminar was aimed at those involved in start-ups and businesses in their first three years, as well as anyone involved in a micro-enterprise (less than 10 employees) who is turning their mind to expansion. There is a lot to consider in this phase of your business. Make the right decisions now and you will have a solid foundation for future success.

This SFA seminar brought together a range of experts who can support you and your business to achieve your potential.

Flexing your strengths: Business psychologist Jane Perry of C Zone Coaching focused on one of the most important elements of long term success – you, the owner-manager. She helped participants to identify their character strengths and how to use them in crucial phase of their business.

Business loans: Deirdre Parkinson, Head of Marketing with Microfinance Ireland, gave participants a rundown of finance options for small business. She highlighted the Microfinance Ireland offering, which is available to businesses that may have difficulty accessing traditional bank finance.

Training, mentoring and financial supports: Steven O’Gara, Senior Economic Development Officer for Dublin City Council, outlined what the Local Enterprise Offices around the country can offer to new and micro-enterprises, spotlighting both financial and non-financial supports.

Getting online: SMEs with a website pick up 22 additional jobs or sales per year on average, with a total value of €24,000. Oonagh McCutcheon from IE Domain Registry, the organisation that manages the dot ie namespace, helped delegates to understand what an effective online presence could add to your business and how to achieve it. 

For all presentations on the night please click here to view

New IEDR Report: Record number of dot ie domain registrations in 2017

The IE Domain Registry (IEDR) has recently published their latest edition of the dot ie Domain Profile Report, which examines the makeup of the .ie domain database. The report finds that 2017 was a record-breaking year: 39,523 new domains were registered – an average of 108 every day.


The total .ie database now comprises of 237,412 domains. Reflecting the growth in the Irish economy, more than two-thirds of new .ie domains in 2017 were registered by corporate bodies and sole traders. In numerical terms, this represents a 6% increase on the previous year. While the majority of new .ie domain registrations originate from Dublin or Leinster, every province in Ireland recorded significant increases in registrations. And, nearly every county in Ireland experienced an increase in new registrations. Irish businesses, organisations, communities and citizens recognise the value of having their own website.

However, while the take-up of websites and .ie domains remains strong, problems persist in Ireland’s internet ecosystem. A December 2017 report by EU statistics body Eurostat ranked Ireland number one in Europe for web sales. Superficially, the findings seem a good advertisement for digital Ireland. But they are misleading. Like the similarly positive DESI report of early 2017, the Eurostat survey omitted 92% of Ireland’s business landscape – the micro-businesses that employ fewer than ten people.

More of the world’s largest multinationals are choosing Ireland as a location, and many of those already located here are growing their presence. Ireland is in an enviable position, but there is work to be done. In many parts of the country, the internet infrastructure is inadequate which is a hinderance to sustainable business growth. Also, e-commerce adoption amongst Ireland’s overall SME community remains poor, despite reports to the contrary. Government and industry bodies must work hand-in-glove to ensure that 2018 is a year of meaningful change for Ireland’s internet community.

You can access the dot ie Domain Profile Report here.

SFA GDPR in Action workshop
  • 09 March, SFA offices

This practical and interactive GDPR workshop will use three case studies to explore GDPR in the context of understanding the elements of a data retention policy, how to plan for a data access request, consent in the context of marketing and creating a contingency plan for a data breach.


08.00 am - 08.15 am Registration
08.15 am - 08.30 am Introduction
08.30 am - 08.35 am Launch of SFA GDPR publication for SMEs
08.35 am - 09.15 am

Practical Session 1: GDPR & HR records

09.15 am - 10.00 am

Practical Session 2: GDPR & Marketing - managing consent

10.00 am - 10.45 am

Practical Session 3: Data breaches: what to do?

10.45 am - 11.00 am Q & A
11.00 am Close


Attendees at the event will receive a free copy of the SFA GDPR publication for SMEs which will be launched on the day.

Places are limited to one person per company due to limited space availability so book now to avoid disappointment.

HR update 2018: From beginnings to endings and HR in the middle
  • 14 March, SFA offices

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.

  • Would you like the know-how to manage a difficult probation?
  • Learn the key steps to effective absence management?
  • Gain guidance on what longer working means in relation to workers nearing retirement age?

At this Business Bytes event we will equip you to manage probation, absence and retirement using practical case studies that you can apply to the day-to-day operation of your business.

This event is not to be missed if you are an owner-manager or HR manager in a small firm and want to equip yourself to handle three of the issues most frequently raised by SFA members.

The presentation will be delivered by Helen Quinn, the SFA’s HR and employment law advisor.

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.

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser: Briana McTiernan, Tel: +353 1 605 1622

SFA Annual Conference **Save the date**
  • 24 May, UCD Science Centre


Project Management – one day course for small firms

The SFA has launched its 2018 training brochure, ‘Training that counts’. There are 12 different courses being offered throughout the year with a focus on skills that can make a real difference to your business in areas such as health and safety, management, employment law and finance. This week’s featured course is a one-day Project Management programme.

Project management is essential to the smooth running of your business, no matter what sector you are in. This course will help you to complete projects on time and within budget. It is based on real life scenarios that will improve the skills of anyone in your business that is involved in project work.

Topics covered include:

  1. Assertiveness and interpersonal effectiveness
  2. Ensuring deadlines are agreed and met
  3. Delivering results every time
  • When: 2 March (1-day programme)
  • Venue: Ibec, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
  • Cost: €220 for SFA member companies, €330 for non-members
  • How to register: Register online here or contact Quelba Lima on 01-6051619


This course is part of the SFA’s ‘Training that Counts’ suite of programmes.


Full list of courses being offered in 2018:

  • Manual handling (half-day)
  • Developing and Implementing Strategy (1 day)
  • Effective Presentation Skills (1 day)
  • Employment Law: Discipline and Dismissal (1 day)
  • Finance and Accounting Made Easy (1 day)
  • First Aid Response (1 day)
  • Manage Your Time Effectively (1 day)
  • Performance Management and Appraisal Skills (1 day)
  • Powerful Performance Conversations (1 day)
  • Project Management (1 day)
  • Safety Awareness for Managers (1 day)
  • Foundations in Management (2 days)

The courses are offered at a price that makes it realistic for small companies to participate:

  • Half-day course: €150 for SFA members
  • One-day course: €220 for SFA members
  • Two-day course: €400 for SFA members

Book your places now at www.sfa.ie/events or find out more about customised training and other options here.