SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member,

This week's e-zine provides practical advice for employers regarding Christmas parties and brings you details on the consultation report issued on the use of zero and low hours contracts

Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different government support available to small businesses, in this edition we bring you details on how to recoup six years of income tax when starting a new business. We also present the SFA Annual Lunch highlights and results of the Red Tape Survey 2015.

Don't miss your chance to register for tomorrow's SFA webinar on resourcing and leave entitlements during the Christmas period and book your place at the SFA Annual General Meeting and Members Christmas Drinks

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 directly at tel: 01 605 1602 or 

e-mail: patricia.callan@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit www.sfa.ie.

Kind Regards,

Patricia Callan
SFA Director

Are you having a staff party this Christmas? Some practical advice for employers.
Staff parties can show our employees some due appreciation at the end of a long year. We all understand the benefits of a social outing on team building too. However, these social events...

Staff parties can show our employees some due appreciation at the end of a long year.

We all understand the benefits of a social outing on team building too. However, these social events also have the potential to provide a context for inappropriate behaviour that could have serious repercussions.

It is important to remember, that when an employer hosts a staff party, their duty of care to their employees extends as if they were at work. The employer is fully responsible and held liable for incidents that happen at Christmas parties, even if the party is off-site and out of hours. Employers remain responsible for the well being, protection and behaviour of employees during such events.

The Small Firms Association have experienced member companies dealing with bullying and harassment cases, sexual harassment, grievances and all sorts of conflict situations involving employees following staff parties.

This article will give you some practical advice and outline your responsibilities as an employer.

For more information on your responsibilities at social events, or to discuss proactive measures to ensure your staff party is a success for all involved; contact Jonathan Callan, SFA Executive on 01 6051668, or jonathan.callan@sfa.ie

Consultation report issued on the use of zero hours and low hours contracts
On 3 November 2015, the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, published a new report, “A Study on the Prevalence of Zero Hours Contracts among Irish Employers and their Impact on Employees” by the University of Limerick...

On 3 November 2015, the Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, published a new report, “A Study on the Prevalence of Zero Hours Contracts among Irish Employers and their Impact on Employees” by the University of Limerick.

View a copy of the report

One of the key findings of the report was evidence of so-called “if and when” contracts. While both “if and when” and zero hours contracts involve non-guaranteed hours of work, the main difference is that workers on zero hours contracts are obliged to make themselves available for work while those on “if and when” contracts are not contractually required to make themselves available for work.

The study found that for employers, the main advantages of “if and when” contracts are flexibility and reduced cost. However, trade unions and NGOs argue there are significant negative impacts for workers on “if and when” hours including:

  • Unpredictability of hours
  • Difficulties in managing work and family life
  • Unstable income and difficulties accessing financial credit
  • Contracts that do not reflect the reality of number of hours worked
  • Insufficient notice when called to work
  • A belief that employees will be penalised for not accepting work offered
  • Difficulties in accessing social welfare benefits.

As a result, a number of recommendations have been issued in the report, including:

  • That contracts of employment should provide a statement of working hours which are a true reflection of those required
  • There should be a minimum of 3 continuous working hours where an employee is required to report for work; if there is not, the worker should be paid for the 3 hours
  • An employer should give at least 72 hours’ notice of any request to undertake work, unless there are exceptional and unforeseen circumstances. If a worker undertakes extra hours without the minimum notice, they should be compensated at 150% of the rate they would be paid
  • Employers should give a minimum of 72 hours’ notice of cancellation of hours. If workers do not get the minimum notice, they should be paid at their normal rate for the hours which were scheduled

The SFA understands that many employers rely upon flexible working arrangements, including “if and when required” contracts, as a means of managing short term absences or surges in demand for services which may be difficult to predict. A change in the law may impact upon employers’ ability to manage staffing levels for absences and varying demand.''

A short consultation process with employers, trade unions and other interested parties on the findings and recommendations of this report will now commence. As the outcome of the consultation process may form the basis of recommendations for a change in the law for flexible working arrangements (described by Minister Nash as “precarious work”).

The SFA would like to invite any member organisation which may be impacted by this report to contact Jonathan Callan, SFA Executive, jonathan.callan@sfa.ie, with their views of the above. Any observations on the findings or recommendations in the report should be communicated by close of business on Tuesday, 8 December 2015 so that we can include in our consultation findings.

Starting a new business? Recoup six years of income tax

Spotlight on the Startup Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE) scheme, which could entitle people starting their own business to a refund of income tax paid over the previous six years. This article provides information on the scheme and advice for potential applicants...  

There are over 80 different government supports available to small businesses but many of them are not well known or understood. Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different support that could improve your business, giving you information and advice.

#3 Startup Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE)


An income tax refund for those starting their own company of up to 41% of your investment in the company.

You could receive a refund of all income tax paid in the six years leading up to the investment, if you meet the criteria for the scheme and depending on the amount invested.

To qualify you must:

  • Establish a new company
  • Invest money by purchasing new shares
  • Have had mainly PAYE income in the last four years
  • Work full time in the new company as an employee/director

 There are further conditions relating to the investor, the company and its activities, and the timing and nature of the investment. These can be found on the Revenue website


The aim of the SURE scheme is to promote entrepreneurship, providing a direct financial incentive for people to start their own companies.   


The scheme is run by Revenue, in conjunction with Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The application, which consists of forms completed by the Company Secretary and the investor, a copy of the bank statement showing the investment and a form outlining the allotment of shares, is submitted to the Incentives and Financial Services Branch (IFSB) of Revenue. Once the IFSB approves the application, the applicant’s tax office deals with the refund.

To work out the refund that you could receive, use the SURE online calculator. Examples of how the refund is calculated are contained in the Revenue leaflet.


If you are interested in applying, don’t forget:

  • Before a claim is made, you must have made the investment and received your shares
  • You cannot get a refund of PRSI or USC paid
  • The amounts invested can be used:
    • For the creation and maintenance of employment and the carrying out of relevant trading activities
    • In the case of a company that has not commenced to carry on relevant trading activities, for research and development activities
  •  The minimum investment under the scheme is €250 and the maximum investment is €700,000
SFA Annual Lunch 2015 Highlights
The SFA Annual Lunch took place in the Convention Centre Dublin on Friday, 6 November 2015. Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Patrick Honohan, was the Guest of Honour...

The SFA Annual Lunch took place in the Convention Centre Dublin on Friday, 6 November 2015.

The lunch was a fitting celebration of the contribution that small businesses make to the Irish economy and society, with over 500 attendees including small business owner-managers, politicians, senior government officials and media.

We were delighted to welcome the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Patrick Honohan, as the Guest of Honour. Governor Honohan delivered an address to the small business community on 'SME Finance in the Recovery'. View a copy of the presentation on our website. 

You can also watch a short video clip of the highlights of the event. 

Red Tape Survey 2015
The LK Shields Red Tape Survey 2015 reports that 1 in 3 Irish businesses say the administrative burden of red tape is an obstacle to recruitment, growth and innovation...
The launch of LK Shields Red Tape Survey 2015 took place in the Merrion Hotel on Thursday, 12 November. 

The new research, carried out among 300 Irish businesses of all sizes, assesses the burden that red tape places on Irish businesses across all sectors and seeks to gain a greater understanding of how compliance and regulation affects the Irish business market. 

The LK Shields 2015 Red Tape Report reveals that:
  • 1 in 3 Irish businesses say the administrative burden of red tape is an obstacle to recruitment, growth and innovation
  • 56% say compliance costs increasing faster than business growth in the past 12 months
  • 6% of annual turnover being spent on meeting compliance obligations
  • 85% think the cost burden needs to be reduced
  • 3 in 5 businesses agree that an independent body should be established to review the impact red tape has on Ireland’s competitiveness
  • 79% of businesses believe that policy makers should examine the legislative and administrative process to change the regulatory burden in Ireland.
To access a copy of the survey report, please click here.
SFA Webinar - Resourcing & Leave Entitlements during the Christmas period
Wednesday, 25 November

On Wednesday, 25 November from 2:15pm - 2:45pm Jonathan Callan, SFA Executive will deliver a webinar covering the upcoming public holidays and solutions to resource your business during the Christmas period. 

The webinar will also brief you on the extra cautions when employing young persons (under 18) during the busy season, as well as some other HR issues arriving in January 2016.

Register online for the webinar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

SFA Annual General Meeting
Thursday, 3 December 2015

Patricia Callan, SFA Director, would like to invite you to the SFA Annual General Meeting, which will be held at the SFA offices at 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 at 1:30pm on Thursday, 3 December 2015 to consider the following resolutions:

1. To approve the Report of the Director.
2. To approve the Report of the Chairman and the National Executive Council.
3. To elect two members to serve on the National Executive Council for a term of three years.

If you are interested in standing for election to the Council and would like to discuss, please contact Patricia Callan on tel 01 605 1602 or email patricia.callan@sfa.ie. If you are planning to attend the AGM, please register on our website. 

SFA Members Christmas Drinks
Monday, 7 December

The SFA Members Christmas Drinks will take place on Monday, 7 December 2015 from 6.00pm-8.30pm in the Cliff Townhouse, 22 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2. The evening is intended to be informal and attendance is free of charge but you must pre-register on our website.

The purpose of the evening is to give members an opportunity to meet each other and develop business contacts.  Feel free to bring a plus one but please pre-register them.

Refreshments and food will be of a traditional fare.

Sponsored by:

Press coverage
Mandatory retirement, Small Business Saturday

Mandatory retirement

On 19 November, Patricia Callan, SFA Director was interviewed on Highland Radio on the Bill which proposes to end mandatory retirement.

Small Business Saturday

SFA's call for 5 December to be 'Small business Saturday' was featured in the Avondhu on 19 November.