SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


I hope you had an enjoyable St Partick's day weekend and everyone is back to work safe and sound.


In this week's newsletter we have a HR article on the considerations for a contract of employment, as well as our usual GDPR tip, this week looking at data access requests.  If you haven't done so already I would encourage you to look at our GDPR guide.


We have two articles showing the importance of digital transformations, the first is the findings of the BPFI Payments Monitor and the ever growing move towards digital payments.  The second article looks at the PwC Retail & Consumer Report 2018, which again highlights the importance of digital access for the consumer. 


I am delighted to announce a new, one day training course, Finance and Accounting Made Easy.  Places are limited so please make sure to book now


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
  • SFA National Small Business Awards

SFA National Small Business Awards


There was coverage in the Kildare Nationalist for Irish Tax Rebates, winners in the Services Category at the SFA National Small Business Awards.  The Connacht Tribune had an article about Revive Active at the SFA Awards, who were winners in the Food and Drink Category. 

GDPR and data access requests

Find out what changes will be taking place for data access requests once GDPR comes into force on 25 May. Learn what information should be provided and how your business can prepare for a data access request…

When GDPR comes in to force on 25 May, the following will change in relation to data access requests:


  1. The fee for data access requests will no longer apply
  2. Businesses will need to respond to data access requests within one month instead of the existing forty-day timeline
  3. If the data access request has been made electronically, for example by email, then the response should also be in electronic form
  4. Businesses may charge a reasonable fee for administrative costs if the request is excessive
  5. Businesses will have some grounds to refuse a data access request if it is seen as being clearly unfounded or excessive. Your business will need to have a clear policy that details the grounds and procedures for refusing this type of data access request and they must demonstrate why the request meets these criteria

Before processing a data access request, it may be helpful to request some form of ID or other method to verify that the individual is who they say they are. You can also ask them to specify what data they wish to receive. However, the individual can refuse to specify and insist on receiving all their personal data. In this case, businesses would need to provide a copy of all personal data that is held on file in relation to that individual unless it is excessive or unfounded.


Under GDPR, data subjects are entitled to the following information when they make a data access request:

  1. The reason/s for processing their data
  2. The categories of personal data that relates to them
  3. Whether any third parties have been given access to the personal data, in particular third countries or international organisations. This also needs to include the appropriate safeguards that are put in place to protect the individuals data in relation to the transfer of their data
  4. How long the personal data will be held for or the criteria used to hold their data
  5. They can request to have their data updated, removed entirely or ask to restrict some aspects of the processing of their data
  6. How to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority, in this case the Data Protection Commissioner
  7. If the data was not collected directly from the individual, for example if it was obtained from a publicly available source, you need to let them know where you obtained it from
  8. The existence and use of automatic profiling. The individual has the right to know what the significance of using this is and what are the consequences for this processing. They can also object to the use of automated profiling for their personal data

How can businesses prepare for a data access request?


The first step is to create a data access request policy. This should include reasons for refusing unfounded or excessive data access requests along with clear guidelines on how to manage these.


The second step is to ensure that all staff are trained in how to recognise a data access request and who to send it to as well as who to contact if that person is on leave.


The third step is to know where all your data is stored and if possible centralise as much of the personal data as possible. This makes it easier to respond to the data access request within the one-month timeline.


Finally, it is recommended that you test your data access request procedure to see if you can meet the timeline and fix any issues that may arise.


In the meantime you can avail of our new publication ‘Mind your business: prepare for GDPR’ and other GDPR resources 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 http://www.sfa.ie/advice



Considerations for a contract of employment

This week’s article looks at contracts of employment and three key reasons why businesses should provide written contracts of employment. We discuss the legal requirements and what should be included in a contract of employment and how it can protect the business and the employee…

A contract of employment is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee. The employee agrees to provide their skills and labour in exchange for remuneration from the employer. For a contract of employment to take effect there must be an offer, an acceptance and an agreement between both parties. The agreement which is the contract of employment may either be in writing or agreed orally.


This article will look at three key reasons why businesses should protect themselves by ensuring that all contracts of employment are in writing.

  1. There is a legal obligation to provide a written statement of terms of employment which is detailed in the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994-2014

Every employer is legally obliged to provide a written statement of terms of employment within two months of an employee starting work and it must include the following information:

  • The full name of the employer and employee
  • The address of the employer
  • The place of work. If there is no fixed or main place of work, it should state that the employee is required to work in various locations
  • The job title or the nature of the work
  • The start date of the contract
  • Temporary contracts must include either the expected duration of the contract or if it is a fixed term contact it must specify the date that the contract ends
  • The rate of pay or method of calculation for remuneration – the remuneration package should provide a breakdown of basic salary, commission, bonuses, allowances etc., if they apply
  • How often the employee will be paid, i.e. weekly or monthly
  • Hours of work including overtime. This section should also detail work breaks both daily and weekly as well as any shifts if they apply
  • Terms and conditions for paid leave, i.e. annual leave and public holidays but not paid sick leave
  • Terms and conditions for illness/injury and pensions schemes – if you have a sick pay scheme this should be detailed in this section
  • The period of notice obliged to be given by both parties
  • If any collective agreement affects the contract these should also be included. An example of a collective agreement would be an industry specific sectoral employment order


The written statement of terms of employment must be signed and dated by the employer and ideally it should be signed by the employee as well. If they refuse to sign the contract but still come in to work on an ongoing basis, they are signaling that they have agreed to the terms and conditions of the contract. 

  1. If it is not written in the contract of employment it is difficult to implement

For example, if a retirement age is not written in a contract of employment, you cannot terminate an employee’s employment purely on the grounds of age as this could discriminatory under equality legislation. In the case of using lay-off, again if it is not written down it is harder to implement. You could rely on custom and practice which means if it has happened previously on a regular basis, you could use that option in a lay-of scenario. If it is written down, however, there is no room for any misunderstandings.


Businesses might want to consider including the following in a contract of employment if it applies:

  • Probationary period with the right to extend it up to one year but not over a year
  • Short time/lay off/redundancy
  • Flexibility
  • Sick pay scheme
  • Right to search
  • Data protection/GDPR post-25 May 2018
  • Retirement age
  • Bullying and harassment procedures
  • Grievance and disciplinary procedures
  • Company car
  • Confidentiality
  • Restrictive covenant clauses
  • Email/internet and social media use

It is important to note that all businesses must advise employees of the disciplinary procedures within one month of them starting work. Many businesses choose to include their disciplinary procedures in the contract of employment. 

  1. In the case of a dispute it provides clarity and security for both parties

If a dispute arises between the employer and employee, the contract of employment can provide clarity to clear up any disputes that take place internally or externally. For instance, if an employee lodges a grievance internally and it is in writing, the grievance procedures make it clear to both parties what the process is. If a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission is made, for example a payment of wages claim, the contract of employment is usually the first reference point that will be used to defend a case.


Finally, it provides security for both parties as a contract of employment cannot be changed without the agreement from both sides. For example, an employer cannot suddenly change the hours of work without an agreement from the employee. Equally the employee cannot suddenly decide to work Monday to Thursday if their employment contract states they are required to work Monday to Friday.


SFA have a number of sample contracts of employment available for permanent, temporary and casual employments which you can avail of here.


If you would like more information on contracts of employment or any other HR issues your business may have, please contact Helen at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit the advice section on our website www.sfa.ie/advice


Latest Payments Monitor shows huge growth in contactless and digital banking transactions

The latest BPFI Payments Monitor contains useful insights for retailers and other small businesses. Cash remains king but the shift to digital transactions continues.

The latest BPFI Payments Monitor shows strong growth in card payments, driven mainly by the widespread acceptance and use of contactless payments and continued growth in digital banking.


The following are key highlights of the Monitor:

  • Card payment volumes rose by 20.4% year-on-year in H2 2017, boosted by continued growth in debit card usage and the adoption of contactless payments.
  • The value of contactless payments, comprising contactless card and mobile wallet payments reached €1.6 billion in H2 2017, and more than one in four card payments were contactless.
  • Digital banking transaction volumes, comprising credit transfers initiated via online and mobile banking, grew by 27.3% year-on-year to almost 46 million in H2 2017.
  • The value of ATM cash withdrawals fell on a year-on-year basis for the second successive quarter in Q4 2017, with some €9.8 billion in cash withdrawn in the second half of 2017.

The Monitor notes that, with cash dominating at the point of sale, there is still huge room for growth in card payments:


“Payment card usage is growing fast but cash remains the main payment instrument in Ireland and in most European countries. The share of POS [point of sale] payments made in cash is falling, however, as account-based payments continue to grow and consumers use their accounts in new ways,” according to the Monitor.


However, with “cash representing more than three quarters of POS payments in Ireland, we have much further to go. Assuming current trends continue, we estimate it will be at least 2020 before payment cards overtake cash in Ireland,” the Monitor concludes.


Digital banking is emerging as an increasingly important channel for payments, with more than one in three credit transfers between bank accounts conducted through online or mobile banking in H2 2017.


The full BPFI Payments Monitor is available here.

File up to 27 EU VAT returns in a single transaction via MOSS

Spotlight on the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS), a single web-portal for filing and paying VAT in EU member states in which your business does not have a fixed establishment. This article provides information on the scheme and advice on how to avail of it.


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.


VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS)



A simplified online method of calculating and making a single payment for VAT owed on telecoms, broadband or e-services supplied to consumers in EU countries in which you do not have a fixed establishment.


From 1 January 2015, the place of supply of these services to consumers became the place where the consumer is established. Businesses that supply these services are therefore obliged to register, charge and account for VAT in the member state of the consumer. VAT MOSS offers a simplified way of doing so.



The aim of VAT MOSS is to reduce the administrative cost and burden on businesses. Use of MOSS is optional – alternatively businesses can register for VAT in each member state that it supplies to. However, if you do choose to use MOSS, you must use it for all of your B2C supplies of telecommunications, broadband and electronically supplied services in EU countries where you do not have an establishment.



Businesses make a single registration for MOSS, in the EU member state in which you are established (known as the member state of identification).


To register in Ireland, log on to the Revenue On-Line Service (ROS). Revenue will pre-populate the application form with the details it already holds. You can edit certain fields and you must provide details of any fixed establishments you have in other member states.


MOSS returns should be made via ROS within 20 days of the end of each calendar quarter. In relation to each member state in which you have made supplies (except Ireland and other places where you have a fixed establishment), you will enter:

  • The taxable amount of supplies made from your establishment in Ireland to customers in other member states
  • The taxable amount of supplies made from your fixed establishments in other member states

MOSS will calculate the total amount due in relation to all member states. Payment can be made by single debit instruction or by card and Revenue will distribute the payment to the relevant member states.


For more information, check the VAT MOSS leaflet on the Revenue website. Revenue also runs a MOSS helpdesk, which can be contacted by email (mossnsd@revenue.ie) or Lo-Call 1890 226464. Details of regional contact points can also be found on the Revenue website.



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

  • If you are established and registered for MOSS in Ireland, you cannot include your supplies to customers in Ireland in your MOSS return. These should be processed via your normal domestic VAT return. Similarly, if you make supplies to customers in another member state in which you have a fixed establishment, these should be filed in the domestic VAT return in that member state.
  • MOSS cannot be used for B2B supplies or for B2C supplies of goods or any services other than telecommunications, broadband or e-services.
  • Businesses which fall below the VAT threshold in Ireland will still be required to pay VAT in member states where they are not established. They can register for MOSS in Ireland without any implications for their domestic VAT status.
  • Where there are multiple VAT rates in a certain member state, the onus is on you to select the correct rate for your services.
  • If you are registered for MOSS in Ireland, returns must be made in euro, irrespective of what currency is used in the country of consumption.
New global PwC Retail & Consumer Report 2018

According to the latest PwC global report, the power has very much shifted from those who make and sell products to the consumers who buy them. Offering consumers what they want, when they want it, will separate the winners from the losers.

PwC have just published their global Retail & Consumer Report 2018 which canvassed the opinion of online shoppers in 27 territories including 1,000 in Ireland.


The inaugural 2017 Irish report included the following key insights:


  1. Shift to online is real and happening at pace
  2. Mobile is a game changer
  3. Social media is emerging as the great influencer
  4. Security is key to building trust
  5. The role of the store is critical and cannot be ignored


The PwC Retail & Consumer Report 2018 has further examined these insights plus some new areas however the key facts remain unchanged. The power has very much shifted from those who make and sell products to the consumers who buy them. Offering consumers what they want, when they want it, will separate the winners from the losers. With new technologies including artificial intelligence, voice-assisted devices, augmented reality and blockchain all driving accelerated rates of disruption, this shift of power to the consumer has never been greater.

Online has made it easier for consumers to seek out value, which in turn changes how they engage with stores. Christmas 2017 was a victim of this with deep Black Friday discounting disrupting how consumers spend in a key trading period in terms of revenue and profit generation. These new forces will only increase in intensity and with emerging technologies playing a much more influential role in how we shop, disruption is now the accepted norm. Preparing for this disruption is essential as retailers and brands seek to win market share in rapidly changing markets where technology is now driving change at a pace never experienced before.

Key facts from the 2018 report include:

  • 38% of 25-34 year olds shop online weekly
  • 18% say they shop less often at other retail stores as a result of Amazon (34% in the USA)
  • 33% say they are more likely to shop with a retailer who offers mobile payment
  • Less than 50% say they are satisfied with the in-store shopping experience
  • 34% say they are comfortable to have their shopping patterns monitored
  • 51% say they are not comfortable for a retailer to identify them when nearby
  • 57% only use credible websites when shopping on their mobile phone
  • 52% say they are concerned about security when making mobile payments
  • 38% say they use social media to inspire their purchases
  • 94% of 18-24 year olds use social media to inspire their purchases
  • 77% of consumers are willing to pay for same or next day delivery
  • 69% consider return shipping to be the most attractive service if they don’t have to pay

The full report can be accessed here.

GDPR in action – Cork
  • 21 March,  Maryborough Hotel


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.

Calling all small businesses in the Cork area! The SFA GDPR seminar is coming to town.

Everywhere you go GDPR is on the news and in the papers but companies struggle to know where to begin and how to start their GDPR action plans. In this Business Bytes event we will share the following to help your business kick start its GDPR action plan:

  1. General overview of GDPR 
  2. Recording your data: what to keep and what not to keep?
  3. The six legal bases for processing personal data
  4. The main legal bases for processing sensitive data
  5. GDPR in action: we will briefly look at the areas of GDPR and HR records and GDPR and marketing on the issue of consent

The event will close with plenty of time for the Q&A session.

The presentation will be delivered by Helen Quinn, the SFA’s in-house GDPR 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

Finance and Accounting Made Easy

20 April, SFA offices

Programme Overview:

Ibec have designed this programme to give managers with little or no knowledge of financial management a firm, but practical understanding of the topic.


The presenters have thorough business management experience and as such aim to keep the programme practical and relevant to the participants’ needs. The programme is made up of a series of practical exercises and case studies to ensure that learning is put into practice. A flexible approach is used throughout the training programme and priority is given to the demands of the group.

To book this course please click here

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Quelba Lima, Tel: +353 1 605 1619

SFA Annual Conference
  • 24 May, UCD Science Centre

The Small Firms Association is the trusted partner of over 8,500 small firms in Ireland. The SFA Annual Conference is our flagship event and helps small business owners and managers to keep up to date with the latest trends in HR, management and innovation provides an opportunity to come together to make connections and learn from each other’s experiences.

We  will see 300 entrepreneurs, owner-managers, policy makers and media gather together to explore how to create competitive advantage in the current economic and business environment. A mix of keynote addresses and panel discussions will focus on how small businesses can stay competitive, gain access to and retain talent and GDPR.

To book your place please click here.

Finance and Accounting Made Easy – new SFA training course

Finance and Accounting Made Easy is just one of the SFA training courses coming up as part of our ‘Training that counts’ suite. All programmes are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience.

At SFA, we’re here to help you create time for things that can make a real difference to your business, like developing management capacity and other skills for you and your staff.


There are a number of courses coming up as part of our ‘Training that counts’ suite of training programmes that may be of interest to you. They are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience.


Finance and Accounting Made Easy


This one-day programme is designed to give managers with little or no knowledge of financial management a firm but practical understanding of the topic.


The presenters have thorough business management experience and as such aim to keep the programme practical and relevant to the participants’ needs. The programme is made up of a series of practical exercises and case studies to ensure that learning is put into practice. A flexible approach is used throughout the training programme and priority is given to the demands of the group.


Date: 20 April 2018

Time: 8.30am-3.30pm

Venue: SFA/Ibec offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Cost: €220 (SFA member rate)


Book here.


Other upcoming courses

  • Safety Awareness for Managers (one-day course, 27 March)
  • Manual Handling (half-day course, 6 April)
  • Foundations in Management (two-day course, 12-13 April)
  • Performance Management and Appraisal Skills (one-day course, 27 April)

Half-day courses are charged at €150, one-day courses €220 and two-day courses €400 for SFA members and can be booked at http://www.sfa.ie/events


If you would like any more information please contact Quelba Lima in the Ibec Training Unit on quelba.lima@ibec.ie or 01 605 1619.