SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to the this edition of the SFA e-zine. 


We are only two days away from Business Connect 2020 at Aviva Stadium - it will be a great day of networking and development, and be sure to check out the full programme to see who you will be hearing from on the day.  


We have added three new Member-Only offers to our website, from deals on various training courses to trials on payment terminals.  


As we approach polling day, we urge members to engage with parties and candidates about the challenges faced by small firms in the communities they hope to represent.  You can also read about the SFA’s meeting with European Commission Negotiator Michel Barnier on the next phase of Brexit negotiations. 


Last week, the IE Domain Registry (IEDR) published its 2019 .ie Domain Profile Report with a comprehensive review of its .ie database.  


Ensure you are following fair procedures when it comes to common misconceptions on probation periods, and check out our recommended three step process when an employee is not working out.  


Finally, members will have noticed that our colleagues in Ibec are currently conducting the Ibec Pay Survey 2020 – results of which allow the SFA and IBEC to track key pay trends. I would encourage members to take part in this survey an if you haven’t received the survey please contact research@ibec.ie before the end of February.  We also give an overview of our coverage in the media.


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
  • Small Business Manifesto
  • General Election 2020
  • National Minimum Wage
  • Business Connect
  • Remote Working

Small Business Manifesto & General Election 2020

SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens was on Radio CRC in Mayo discussing the Small Business Manifesto. THE SFA Small Business Manifesto was also mentioned in The Avondhu, RTE News and Fora.  


National Minimum Wage

The SFA issued a press release on 29 January on the increase in the National Minimum Wage. This was covered in the Irish Examiner and  Newstalk 


Business Connect

Fingal Independent advertised SFA Business Connect, taking place this Thursday at Aviva Stadium.  


Remote Working

SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens and National Council member Sue O’Neill were interviewed on the Today with Sean O'Rourke regarding remote working

Check out our new Affinity Schemes

We have added some discounts to our website, offered only to SFA Members...

Since the New Year, we have added three new Member-Only Affinity Scheme offers to the SFA website.


New Payment Innovation

  • Offering 3 months free rental on terminals

Sales Performance

  • 15% off discount on master class 

Guardian Safety

  • 30% off all online training

These offers are only available to SFA Members, so you will need your log in information to access how you can avail of the discounts!


Take a look at our other offers available and how you can get involved here.

SFA meets European Commission Negotiator Michel Barnier in Dublin

The SFA met with European Commission Chief Negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier...

On Monday, 27 January the SFA met with European Commission Chief Negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, at a Stakeholder event at the European Commission Representation Office Dublin. The meeting was ahead of the UK’s departure of the EU, on Friday January 31st. Mr Barnier discussed the next phase of Brexit negotiations, dealing with the future relationship between the EU and the UK, including trade.  


In recognition of the important role played by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the European Commission proposed negotiating guidelines call for an SME chapter. The proposal states that the envisaged partnership should include a specific chapter on SMEs which should assist SMEs to take full advantage of the envisaged partnership, inter alia through increasing the level of awareness among SMEs and enhancing their access to useful information on rules, regulations and procedures related to doing business, including public procurement. This reference builds on from the SME Chapter in the EU-Japan FTA . 


Brexit will remain a priority for small firms in 2020. The SFA will continue to engage at national and EU level on members’ behalf. Emphasising that the upcoming negotiations should ensure no trade quotas, no tariffs, minimum bureaucracy and a level playing field between the EU and the UK. In addition, we will highlight that the transition period needs to be of sufficient length for small businesses to plan and prepare for any new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) arrangements and avoid cliff edges.  


The SFA will continue to update members on this issue. In the meantime if you have any queries please contact Elizabeth Bowen at elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie



Small Business Manifesto

Are you aware of the challenges faced by small firms in the upcoming election...

There are over 267,000 small businesses (less than 50 employees) in Ireland. They represent 98% of businesses in the country and employ 755,854 people – half of the private sector workforce.  Therefore, the next government must have a major focus on entrepreneurship and small business. They should develop a visible and coherent national SME and Entrepreneurship policy, that focuses on the cost of doing business, taxation, future of work and climate change. 


As we get closer to polling day, we are urging every party and candidate contesting to listen to, and make every effort to understand, the challenges faced by small firms in the communities they hope to represent. 


To ensure the voice of small business is heard on February 8th visit our General Election 2020  page. Watch our General Election Webinar and share our Small Business Manifesto.  


On social media use the hashtag #SFA4Business and personalise your posts using SFA images and suggested captions



Misconceptions with Probation

Make sure you are aware of some common misconceptions within the probationary period of an employee...

Probation period is so a manager can monitor and review an employee’s work objectives, goals and professional development. It should involve a series of informal/formal conversations where they are coached, provided with support and feedback.  


There is a misconception that no fair procedures or process is required when managing a poor performing employee during their probationary period. Some businesses mistakenly believe that they can ask that employee to leave with immediate effect and without informing them of the reasons for the dismissal or give them the opportunity to improve. While the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 – 2015 provides protection for employee’s employment after one year’s continuous service, employees on probation do have protection and can take a claim for unfair dismissal under the Industrial Relations (IR) Acts 1946 – 2015.  

An employer’s application of fair procedures to employees on a probationary period will be scrutinised in the event of a claim under the IR Acts. In the absence of a formal disciplinary procedure and/or an employer’s adherence to a disciplinary procedure, the Labour Court would award compensation to an employee as no fair procedures were followed. 


In the recent Labour Court case Beechside Company Limited T/A Park Hotel Kenmare vs A Worker the employee was hired in January 2018 as a General Manager on a three-year contract and they had relocated from Dublin to Kenmare. On April 27th he was dismissed without warning when he was informed that “it was not working out”. He took a case under the Industrial Relations Act 1946 – 2015 claiming unfair dismissal. The Labour Court heard both sides and recommended the employer to pay the employee €90K. 


The Labour Court made their recommendation based on the lack of fair procedures in accordance with the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures S.I No: 146 of 2000

  • The employee was not informed of any performance issues throughout his time with the hotel 

  • He was not given any warning that his role was in jeopardy 

  • He was not afforded the right to representation 

  • He was not given a reason for his dismissal  

  • He was not afforded the right to reply 

How can businesses ensure they follow fair procedures when managing a problem employee during probation and avoid a claim under the Industrial Relations Act or potential a claim under the Equality Act? 


The first step is to hold regular review meetings. These could be a mixture of weekly or bi-weekly informal chats and formal review meetings that could be held on month one, month three and prior to the probationary period ending. The benefits of these meetings are: 

  1. They will help you assess the employee’s performance and how they work with the rest of the team 

  1. Address any conduct or absence issues 

  1. Minimise the risk of an employee passing their probation without any review meetings  

If the employee is not working out, we have a recommended three step process that follows fair procedures without having to use the full disciplinary process. These are: 


Stage 1-The ‘needs to improve’ stage  

  • Employee is invited to a formal probationary review based on any performance/conduct/attendance issues  

  • Ideally to be initiated if informal meetings show an area which needs improvement  

  • Documentation given in advance  

  • Right to representation (may decide against this at this point)  

  • Timeline for improvement determined (ideally 1 month)  

Stage 2-The ‘at risk’ stage  

  • Employee’s performance/conduct/attendance has not improved by the agreed date  

  • Second formal probationary review initiated  

  • Documentation given in advance  

  • Right to representation  

  • **keyword- “AT RISK” - Employee must be aware that their continuation of employment is at risk of not passing their probation  

  • Revised timeline for improvement determined (ideally 1 month)  

Option 1: Consider extending the probation if needed. Ensure you have a clause in their contract that allows you to extend the probationary period and / or: 
Option 2: Formal warning  


Stage 3- The ‘final’ stage  

  • Employee’s performance/conduct/attendance has once again not improved by the agreed date 

  • Third probationary review initiated 

  • Documentation given in advance 

  • Right to representation 

Option 1: Further warning and extend probation (can be extended to a maximum of 11 months and/or: 
Option 2: Terminate employment  

  • Right to appeal termination 

  • Right to representation 

If you have concerns about an employee on probation and would like further advice, please contact Emma on 01 605 1668 or at emma.crowley@sfa.ie  or visit our HR and Employment Law advice section on www.sfa.ie  



New Irish Domain Profile Report published

Last week, the IE Domain Registry (IEDR) published its 2019 .ie Domain Profile Report with a comprehensive review of its .ie database...

In 2010, the .ie database consisted of 154,918 domains; in 2019, that number was 280,958. The difference is staggering and reflects a decade of work to make .ie domains more accessible and relevant to the changing needs of twenty-first-century Ireland. It also demonstrates the unrelenting pace of digital transformation and technological advancement. In the last ten years, the internet has become as vital to everyday life and business as electricity, running water, and road infrastructure.


In 2019, the majority of the .ie database comprised companies and self-employed entrepreneurs (79.5%), a figure broadly in line with 2018. Because it is protected, a .ie domain is the best way for Irish businesses to demonstrate their trustworthiness and authenticity to local and international customers.


New .ie registrations by individuals increased by 27% in 2019. As social platforms are increasingly consolidated by large corporations, and their terms of service restricted or altered, professionals, creatives, and hobbyists are seeking a private digital space that they can fully control. This has been a consistent upward trend.


Out of the 280.958 ie. domains, 255,944 are registered on the island of Ireland (251,861 Republic of Ireland; 4,083 from Northern Ireland). British-registered .ie domains continue to make up the majority of internationally registered .ie domains; new registrations from Great Britain increased slightly (1,313 from 1,306), up +0.5% in 2019 compared to the previous year. Among the top 10 international registrants of .ie domains, the Netherlands recorded the highest increase in 2019 (+84.7%), followed by Germany (+29.3%). Bulgaria recorded the second-highest number of new .ie domain registrations in 2019 (546). .ie domain holders in these countries typically have business operations in Ireland or can prove some other kind of personal connection.


You can access the full report here

Business Connect 2020
  • 6 February 

SFA Business Connect is an exciting marketplace event designed to give delegates a window into the decision making and purchasing processes of Ireland’s leading companies.


Business Connect, hosted by Richard Curran, will shine a light on Ireland’s unique ecosystem where small and large firms often compete – for contracts, talent, government and media attention. But they also thrive from each other. There are huge opportunities for small businesses once they understand how to navigate working with larger organisations, and for larger organisations accessing a pool of local small business suppliers enables rapid innovation for their growth. 


Delegates will hear from: heads of procurement on what they look for in partners; small companies who will provide insights on how to win big contracts as well as organisations and agencies that can provide support for collaboration. There will also be an interactive session with renowned leadership, motivational speaker and mentalist David Meade who will show delegates how to influence to win business.

Showcasing at the event will be the best in small business from the SFA National Small Business Awards 2020 who will exhibit along with awards sponsors and partners.


Tickets can be booked and the full programme can be found here.



Brilliant Basics - Grow your sales
  • 26 February

Key take-aways: 

  • Focus on 3 key markets to grow your sales and achieve your sales targets in 2020.  
  • Develop a 4-step process for pipeline management. 
  • Understand networking as a new business development strategy for growth.  

Our speaker Jo Collins will help you to focus on your sales plan and re-energize your team. The event will also be a great opportunity for networking with owners of local small businesses and to hear about practical digital solutions for your business from Three. 


About the speaker: Jo Collins, through Sales Performance, works with business owners who want to develop their salespeople and improve sales results. With over 25 years’ experience in sales and sales management, Jo has a very practical approach to increasing sales performance. Having been directly involved in many sales roles, Jo has a great blend of practical knowledge in addition to the theory of Sales and Sales Management. 


This event is open to SFA members and non-members. It will last for approximately two hours with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.   

This event is entirely free of charge, but we kindly ask you to register in advance. 


Date: 26th February 2020
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
Duration: 2 hours
Venue: Three Store Kilkenny
Address: 76 High Street
R95 E398


Programme :






Registration and networking 



Welcome and Introduction 

Three and SFA 


Sales: Doing the basics brilliantly 

Jo Collins, Sales Performance Consulting and Sales Training Services  


Case Study 

Hoban Hotel Kilkenny 








Event ends