SFA Fortnightly Update

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine. 


This week we inform you about Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet’s online training and webinars to support small firms adopt new digital skills this summer. You can also read about Skillnet Ireland’s newly launched training on how to prepare and implement a return to work safely plan aimed at small business.


As more businesses prepare to open up we provide guidance on the measures needed to reopen. We also look at the area of the legal basis for processing personal data.


PwC have just published their recent survey among Irish financial directors and CFOs, you can review the full survey here


SFA Online Seminar, Managing your business in a (post) Covid-19 world is open for registrations. Be sure to book your spot early to not miss out on this half-day event focusing on Health and Safety, Remote Working and how to manage and avoid Redundancies


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
  • Cash Flow & Liquidity
  • Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme
  • Accelerated reopening roadmap
  • SME Recovery Grants
  • DMG Media Advertising Grant
  • CUDA

Cash Flow & Liquidity

SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens, was in The Irish Times discussing the importance cash flow and liquidity for SMEs to restart and reboot. 


Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme

Sven Spollen-Behrens was mentioned in The Echo Cork and the Connaught Telegraph regarding working with the Government to ensure the proper distribution of business supports and financial measures put in place for small businesses. 


Accelerated reopening roadmap

Sven Spollen-Behrens was on Newstalk on 20 June discussing accelerated reopening roadmap.


SME Recovery Grants

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy and the SFA were in the Irish Examiner and The Irish Independent seeking direct grants for 70k SMEs.


DMG Media Advertising Grant

Following our successful €1 million advertising fund for small businesses initiative with DMG Media, The SFA was featured in the Limerick Leader and The Avondhu alongside the local small businesses who were awarded these grants. 


Credit Union Development Association 

The SFA was mentioned in The Irish Examiner regarding working with the CUDA on SME specific product offerings.



Lockdown your digital training

Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet online training and webinars to support small firms adopt new digital skills this summer...

Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet is delighted to announce their affiliate status as a Cisco Network Academy partner. SFA member companies can now access for FREE, self learn, self paced and self certified modules for example on cybersecurity - beginner course is 15 hours. Details can be found here.


They have also expanded their 'Lockdown Your Learnings' webinars and our Cybersecurity webinars series into June.


Do not worry if you have missed previous webinars. By accessing their YouTube Channel you can explore their portal of webinars recordings on Digital Transformation, Cybersecurity, Innovation, Managing Remote Teams and much more. They are adding new webinars each week to support companies in adjusting to the current environment. 


Online return to work training from Skillnet Ireland and Retail Ireland Skillnet

Skillnet Ireland’s newly launched training initiative on how to prepare and implement a return to work safely plan...

The Return to Work Safely Protocol is a critical component of the Government’s Roadmap which very clearly sets out the steps that businesses and workers need to take to ensure that they can return to work safely. Skillnet Ireland’s ReBound initiative aims to upskill small business owners and managers to ensure they are well equipped to take on this challenge.


By registering for ReBound small firms will receive a combination of webinar training on implementing the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol and mentoring to help them create and implement a bespoke Return to Work Safely Plan. The scheme is available to 3,000 Irish SMEs and Irish enterprises so don't delay and register today.


For members working in the retail, tourism and hospitality sector Retail Ireland Skillnet’s online return to work course will guide workers through the national protocol that is in place for returning to work safely to ensure the protection of staff, customers and other visitors as well as reducing the potential spread of Covid-19. It will also guide users to access vital resources for the safe return to work such as checklists for employers and employees, Covid-19 response plan templates, templates for contact logging and dealing with a suspected case, as well as many others.


The course covers all the key areas of the protocol relevant to the retail, hospitality and tourism sector: 

  • Steps for returning to work – with particular responsibilities outlined for employers, employees and appointed lead worker representatives. 
  • Symptoms of Covid-19 
  • Dealing with a suspected case of Covid-19 in the workplace 
  • Prevention and control measures – responsibilities outlined for both employees and employers in relation to hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, cleaning, physical distancing and first aid 
  • Customer facing roles 
  • Mental health and wellbeing 
  • Further advice for employers and workers – Links to all the key resources required for the safe return to work.

The course can be completed entirely online by learners in approximately 30 minutes and a Retail Ireland Certificate of Achievement is available for download upon completion. Learners are asked to submit a self-declaration as part of the course which assists employers’ in their compliance requirements.


This course cannot act as a standalone induction for employees in returning to work as this must be conducted on an individual workplace basis, however it does equip learners with the knowledge and understanding of what their responsibilities are in returning to work safely and what is expected of them following the Covid-19 restrictions.


For information about this course please get in touch with Retail Ireland on 0749176853 or email info@retailirelandskillnet.com.  

New PwC survey - Irish companies expect deeper cuts to revenue and profits compared to global counterparts

PwC have just published their recent survey among Irish financial directors and CFOs...

A recent PwC survey among CFOs and finance directors reveals that 76% of Ireland’s finance directors expect a decrease in their company’s revenues and profits this year as a result of COVID-19 (Global: 80%). Of this, over a quarter (28%) expect this decrease to be 25% or more. Fewer global companies (20%) expect this level of revenue and profit reduction. Despite the pandemic, 15% of Irish companies either expect no impact on revenues and/or profits or expect an increase.


Less than one in five (17%) are ‘very confident’ when it comes to identifying new revenue opportunities when they return to the workplace and is significantly behind global expectations (27%).


Key strategies to rebuild revenue streams, according to the survey, are new, enhanced or repurposed products or services (67%) and changing pricing strategies/payment terms (64%). Irish companies though expect to have a keener focus on pricing strategies compared to global companies (48%). 35% will enter new geographic markets and just 22% will focus on upskilling and acquiring new talent.


More Irish companies than in any other country believe it will take more than a year to recover

According to the survey, more Irish finance directors believe that it will take more than a year to recover from the pandemic than in any other country participating in the survey. Over a quarter (26%) now believe that if COVID-19 were to end today, it would take their business more than a year to get back to ‘business as usual’, up from 17% two months ago and just 11% globally.  A further 40% believe it will take between one and six months compared to 50% globally.


New ways set to remain a permanent feature of working

There is evidence to suggest that some aspects of the current situation will make business better in the long run and therefore may be here to stay. Respondents confirmed that these included: greater remote working and work flexibility (78%), better resilience (68%), leaner operations (49%), automation and technology investments (43%) and new ways to serve customers (42%).


The survey confirms that some organisations will look to capture the unanticipated benefits of working through the pandemic and make positive changes to adapt their ways of working. One fifth of respondents reported not having enough people to do critical work, however, the crisis also highlighted some vulnerabilities in the workforce. The survey suggests companies need to focus on strengthening critical skills, building new skill sets for the future and supporting employee well-being and resilience.


Irish businesses ‘very confident’ in providing a safe working environment but not so confident on building and retaining critical skills for the future

A significant proportion of responding Irish finance directors are ‘very confident’ when it comes to their ability to provide a safe working environment (Ireland: 80%; Global: 74%), meeting customers’ safety expectations (Ireland: 83%; Global:79%) and providing a clear response and shut-down protocols if there is a second wave of infection (Ireland: 77%; Global: 71%). But the survey reveals that Irish businesses have more to do when it comes to building and retaining critical skills and they lag global peers. Just one in two (51%) are ‘very confident’ about retaining critical skills (Global: 56%). Less than half (41%) are ‘very confident’ about building skills for the future (Global: 45%) and just 43% are ‘very confident’ when it comes to managing employee well-being (54%).


Working on-site will not be the same with plans accelerating

Irish finance leaders are much more concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their workforce (28%) than global peers (13%).


With lockdown easing, companies are accelerating their plans to be safe as they transition back to on-site working: 88% of respondents now plan to reconfigure work sites to promote physical distancing compared to 76% a month ago; 72% now plan to change workplace safety requirements (wearing masks, offering testing to workers etc), up from 59% last month; and over a quarter (28%) now plan to reduce their real-estate footprint, up from 12% a month ago.


Despite a high level of confidence in safeguarding their people, the top concern with respect to returning to the workplace and operating in a changed business environment, according to the survey, is the possibility of a new wave of COVID-19 infections (67%), higher than global concerns (58%). Other concerns are the impacts of a global economic recession (64%) and financial/profitability impacts (42%).


You can access the full survey results here

Return to work guidance

As more businesses prepare to open up we provide guidance on the measures needed to reopen...

The National Return to Work Safely Protocol provides guidance that can be applied across all industry sectors. This document is a framework on which to build your return to work planning. The Protocol’s intention is to provide confidence and support to businesses and their employees that the safety and well-being of people at work can be securely managed, as we begin to reopen our economy.


In conjunction with the Return to Work Safety Protocol, Templates, Checklists and Posters have been prepared to help employers, business owners and managers to get their business up and running again.


In addition to the National Return to Work Safely Protocol several sector specific documents have also been published: 

Several resources to support small firms prepare to reopen can be found on the SFA website. FAQs, webinars, checklists, medical questionnaire and information on First Aid in the workplace is now available.


Employers can get information on the financial supports and business advice available to help with their cash flow, payroll and long-term investments. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has set up a business support call centre for information on the supports available for businesses affected by COVID-19. You can call 01 631 2002 or email infobusinesssupport@dbei.gov.ie. 

You can also contact the Health and Safety Authority with queries. You are encouraged to contact the HSA electronically during COVID-19 as their staff are working remotely and they have limited access to post.


For any further information please feel free to contact a member of the SFA team or email us at info@sfa.ie.  (is this the right email address?) 

GDPR COnsiderations during the Covid period

Read on to understand and decide which of the six legal bases may apply to the various data processing activities your business carries out...

Whilst it has always been a requirement under data protection to have a legal basis for processing personal data, under GDPR your business is required to be accountable for and transparent about your legal basis for processing personal data.


It is important to be aware that there is no one size fits approach when applying a legal basis to the personal data you process. It very much depends on what you do with the data and you need understand what you do with your data and why you process it so that you can select the most appropriate legal basis for your specific data processing requirements.


In terms of Covid-19 Return to Work, employers have obligations from a data protection and a GDPR perspective when completing their staff’s medical questionnaires/self-declaration before returning to the workplace. The Data Protection Commission have indicated that measures taken in response to Covid-19 involving personal data collected by employers must be necessary, proportionate, and relevant. Any measures taken should be informed by guidance and direction of the Public health authorities. To avoid a GDPR breach, employers should consider their privacy statements and data protection policies and procedures when conducting Covid-19 control measures such as medical questionnaires.


The six legal bases for processing are set out in Article 6 of the GDPR and your business must apply at least one or more of these when processing personal data:             

Consent: this is where the individual has given clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose – see last week’s article on consent


Contract: this is where processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual or supplier. For example, you could use this legal basis for a contract of employment.


Legal obligation: this is where the processing is necessary for you to comply with by the law. This does not include contractual obligations. For example, keeping employee records by law could come under this legal basis.


Vital interests: this relates to the processing that is necessary to protect someone’s life.


Public task: this could be used in relation to processing that is necessary to perform a task in the public interest or in an official functions, and the task or function has a clear bacx sis in law.


Legitimate interests: this is where the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests.


When you are choosing your legal basis, be sure that you selected the right one as you cannot change it unless you have a very strong reason to change it. One other new requirement is that you will need to include the legal basis for processing personal data within your privacy notices. If you are processing special category data (sensitive data) you will need to identify the lawful basis for general processing and an additional condition for processing this type of data. Finally, it is important to document and demonstrate why you have selected a specific legal basis for each data processing activity that relates to personal and / or sensitive data.


If you would like more information on GDPR or to discuss your requirements further please contact Emma at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at emma.crowley@sfa.ie or visit our HR and Employment Law advice section on www.sfa.ie   

Webinar: Tax Update – Where are we now?
  • 8 July

In this 30-minute webinar, Catherine Mc Govern will discuss Tax Warehousing and other Revenue reliving provisions. She will also outline some tax pitfalls to avoid including VAT on lease transactions e.g. lease termination or subleasing.

Catherine McGovern, is a Tax Partner at PKF O’Connor, Leddy and Holmes. Catherine has over 20 years experience in providing tax advice. Her areas of expertise include retirement and succession planning, VAT on business and property transactions and employee share rewards. If you have any Tax questions for Catherine please feel free to submit them in advance of the webinar.

For small business owners this event is not to be missed.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, 8th July at 11am.

Click here to register
Online Seminar: Managing your business in a (post) Covid-19 world
  • 9 July

The Small Firms Association are proud to bring our Online Seminar on 9 July 2020 to small businesses. Since this current unprecedented period of concern and uncertainty, business owners have experienced many changes to their work.


This online seminar will take you through these recent advancements since COVID-19 and will provide a collaborative channel to generate an awareness of relevant Employment Law. We have a full agenda from a variety of employment law experts.


On the day, you will gain knowledge on Health and Safety, Remote Working and how to manage and avoid Redundancies.  
The seminar will create the space for discussion and information sharing to understand how to minimise the impacts on your business.


You will receive on the ground practical advice combined with recent case law examples to help you manage the adaptation of the Health and Safety in the Workplace in a Covid-19 World. 



 9.00        Opening Remarks 

 9.10        Alternatives to Redundancy 

 9.50        Coffee Break 

11.00       Covid-19 Workplace Protection 

11.40       Break 

11.50       Working Remotely OHS Risk Assessments  

12.30       Guest Speaker-Resilience 

13.00       Closing Remarks 


Find more information and book your tickets here.


For further information, you can contact raquel.delapena@ibec.ie | 01 6051667

Webinar: Structuring your business tax efficiently now and for the future
  • 16 July

In this 30-minute webinar, Catherine Mc Govern will be discussing tax considerations for structuring your business tax efficiently now and also when you are expanding, selling/transferring your business or winding it down. Catherine will be discussing favourable tax reliefs that may be available and will also outline when you may need to consider restructuring your business

Catherine McGovern, is a Tax Partner at PKF O’Connor, Leddy and Holmes. Catherine has over 20 years experience in providing tax advice. Her areas of expertise include retirement and succession planning, VAT on business and property transactions and employee share rewards.

If you have any questions for Catherine please feel free to submit them in advance of the webinar.

For small business owners this event is not to be missed.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, 16th July at 11am.

Click here to register.