SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member,   

In this week's e-zine, we bring you details of a recent case of a failure by an employer to investigate complaints which led to a successful constructive dismissal award of €29,000.

Each week in the SFA e-zine, we profile a different government support available to small businesses. In this edition, we focus on a 40% funding for lighting upgrades in your business premises.


We bring you details of the drafting of the Action Plan for Jobs 2018 which kicked off with ideas for small businesses. We also bring you a reminder from the Companies Registration Office on Annual Returns and details of the rates revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties which has now been completed.

Tune into our webinar on Thursday (14 September) on how to create a winning SFA Awards entry. There are limited places remaining for the 1 day Project Management course this Friday (15 September). Book your place to attend our next networking event which focuses on how to get the most from a flexible team on 27 September with Jason Sherlock, legendary Dublin footballer as the keynote speaker. Find details of a Promoting and Financing Energy Efficiency Conference taking place in Dublin on 28 September.

The disciplinary process is one of the topics which will be covered at the upcoming SFA Employment Law Conferences taking place in Limerick on 20 September and in Dublin on 9 October. Register your place for the SFA Annual Lunch 2017 taking place in the Mansion House on 10 November.  We also provide a summary of 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: www.sfa.ie.

Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director

Recent press coverage
  • SFA Awards 2018
  • Sven Spollen-Behrens
  • SFA Employment Law Conference Limerick

SFA Awards 2018

The SFA issued a press release on 5 September on the official launch of the SFA National Small Business Awards 2018 by Awards Patron, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD. This was covered in Business World on 5 September, in the Irish Examiner on 6 September and in the Irish Independent on 6 and 7 September. 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

The SFA issued a press release on 1 September announcing the appointment of Sven Spollen-Behrens as SFA Director. This was covered in the Irish Examiner on 8 September.

SFA Employment Law Conference Limerick

The SFA issued a press release on 12 September urging employers in Limerick to attend the SFA Employment Law Conference on 20 September for advice on how to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulations.

Failure by employer to investigate complaints led to successful constructive dismissal award of €29,000
The Workplace Relations Commission recently awarded €29,000 to a claimant due to the failure of a company to investigate her complaints of mistreatment by her supervisor...

The Workplace Relations Commission recently awarded €29,000 to a claimant due to the failure of a company to investigate her complaints of mistreatment by her supervisor.

During the case, the claimant referred to several incidents of mistreatment that had occurred during her employment such as returning from annual leave to find that her desk had been emptied and not receiving her annual bonus. The employee subsequently resigned from her post after being told that she was being moved to a different unit in the business, which was effectively a demotion. In upholding the claim of constructive dismissal, the Adjudication Officer held that the employer’s failure to investigate the claimant’s persistent complaints amounted to a breach of mutual trust and confidence.

This case serves as a reminder to employer’s to ensure that they follow up on employee complaints, regardless of whether these are given verbally or in writing.  It is important that a company has a grievance procedure in place that sets out how complaints are managed. In the first instance, many companies (in line with their grievance procedure) will try and deal with the complaint at an informal level e.g. mediation. However, if the employee requests an investigation to take place or the informal approach has not been successful then the matter should be referred to the formal procedure. In addition, it is also advisable that managers receive training on how to handle employee complaints to ensure these are dealt with correctly.

For further information and advice on managing employee grievances you can review the SFA guideline or contact Ciara McGuone on 01 605 1668 or ciara.mcguone@sfa.ie

40% funding for lighting upgrades in your business premises

Spotlight on a new pilot grant scheme for lighting upgrades in small firms, which offers up to 40% funding for the replacement of existing lighting. This article provides information on the scheme and advice on how to apply...

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.

SME Smart Lighting Pilot Scheme


Up to 40% funding for replacing the cost of existing lighting. This lighting must be in working order and in a building that is in general use at the time of the application.

Expenses covered include:

  • New energy efficient light products from the SEAI triple E register
  • Decorative or specialised non-typical lighting products
  • Emergency lighting as part of a retrofit
  • Lighting controls
  • Smart meter
  • Design costs
  • Installation equipment hire
  • Project management costs
  • VAT if applicable


Energy efficient lighting can save you up to 90% on your annual lighting electricity costs, representing an important cost saving for small firms. For many businesses, however, the initial investment in upgrading their lighting poses challenges, so the SEAI is piloting a new grant scheme to help firms with this investment.

Even though SMEs individually consume small to moderate amounts of energy, collectively they account for a significant portion of national energy demand. SEAI has identified lighting as a priority technology for support in 2017.


Applicants must first fill out an application on the SEAI website and complete a lighting survey. Applications should be submitted by email to info@seai.ie.

Applicants should be individual businesses or group applications from the following sectors (other sectors considered on a case-by-case basis): 

  • Fitness Centres
  • Retailers
  • Small Hotels / Large B&Bs
  • Pharmacies
  • Nursing Homes
  • Jewellers

Applications must entail a whole building or facility, which includes lighting upgrades undertaken in all service areas within the building.


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

  • Applicants should be located in the Republic of Ireland and must have less than 50 employees
  • It is expected that up to 100 facilities will be upgraded under the pilot scheme and €700,000 has been made available
  • SEAI has made available a sample installation specification here
  • If you have any questions or need assistance from SEAI in advance of making an application, you can email info@seai.ie or call on 01 8082100
  • Project needs to be fully completed and a claim for payment submitted by 27 October 2017
  • Any ensuing claim to the Revenue Commissioners for an Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) should be made on the basis of costs net of the grant
  • More information is available on the SEAI website.
Drafting of Action Plan for Jobs 2018 kicks off with ideas from small businesses

The SFA met with An Tánaiste and a delegation of senior government figures to discuss practical measures that the government can take to support job creation and retention in small firms over the coming year... 

On 5 September, the SFA met with An Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD; Minister of State Pat Breen; Orlaigh Quinn, Secretary General of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI); and a group of officials from DBEI and the Department of the Taoiseach to discuss how the government can support job creation in small firms over the coming year.

Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director, and Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, commended the government on the successful Action Plan for Jobs programme since 2012 and the drop in the unemployment rate to 6.3%. They emphasised, however, that small firms employ half the private sector workforce and that these businesses still face many barriers. In this context a relentless focus on job retention and ambitious job creation is required from government.

The discussion centred around five key proposals from the Small Firms Association:

  1. Improve ease of casual and part time employment for jobseekers and employers
  2. Introduce a Finance Voucher scheme for small businesses to use on financial training or consultancy
  3. Introduce ‘job-proofing’ of all policy proposals
  4. Introduce a voucher for domestic services to encourage labour market participation and reduce the shadow economy
  5. Publicise job creation announcements in small companies, demonstrating the cumulative impact

The Tánaiste and her delegation were very open and positive to the ideas coming from the SFA and its members. She was keen to hear more about the specific changes that would make it easier to hire part time workers from social welfare, for example.

If you would like to share your experiences and ideas in relation to the five areas above or suggest any other ways the government could support small businesses to create more jobs, please contact Linda Barry on 01 605 1626 or linda.barry@sfa.ie.

Companies Registration Office Annual Returns - October peak
There are over 50,000 companies with an annual return date of 30 September and a filing deadline of 28 October. If you are filing an annual return in respect of one of these companies, you are requested to ensure that your correctly completed return is delivered to the CRO on-time through their online system.

There are over 50,000 companies with an annual return date of 30 September and a filing deadline of 28 October. If you are filing an annual return in respect of one of these companies, you are requested to ensure that your correctly completed return is delivered to the CRO on-time. The only way of doing this is by filing online.

E-Filing is Mandatory

The Companies Registration Office (CRO) has introduced mandatory electronic filing for the submission of an Annual Return and its associated financial statements since 1 June 2017. This applies to all Irish companies.

Companies and Presenters should ensure that they provide the correct email addresses to ensure they are alerted when their documents are sent back as they will no longer receive a letter or documents by post.

Once the B1 (Annual Return form) has been filed on CORE within 28 days of it annual return date, the Financial Statements must be uploaded as a PDF no later than the end of the second 28 days and before the signature page is delivered to the CRO.

Payment must be made for an annual return online, the filing fee for an e-B1 is €20. To complete your annual return online click here

If an annual return is filed late, late filing penalties apply and, where applicable, the company also loses its entitlement to claim audit exemption in the current year and in the following year.

Problems with e-filing

Should you experience difficulties filing your form on-line, help with the content of the form can be obtained from:

LoCall 1890-252536*/059-9178981/01-8045394 or eb1@dbei.gov.ie  

Help with technical or IT issues is available from:

01-8045377 / 01 8045355 or electronic.filing@dbei.gov.ie  

Further Information
Filing on CORE
ROS (Revenue Online Service)

Rates revaluation 2017 has now been completed
The revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties in the rating authority areas of Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Longford, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, South Dublin and Westmeath County Councils has now been completed...

On 7 September 2017, Valuation Certificates were issued to 29,067 ratepayers in the rating authority areas of Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Longford, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, South Dublin and Westmeath County Councils. 

Please be aware that the Valuation (NAV) on the Valuation Certificate received is not your rates liability.

Your rates liability for 2018 will be calculated by multiplying the Valuation of the property by the “Annual Rate on Valuation” (ARV) which will be set by the relevant County Council at its budgetary meeting later this year. Indicative ARV can be found on your county council's website.

New Valuation Lists for the above counties will be published on 15 September and from that date the new valuations will be available to view here. The Valuation List will also be available for inspection in the Valuation Office, Block 2 Irish Life Centre, Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1.

A ratepayer who is dissatisfied with their valuation may make an appeal to the independent Valuation Tribunal as detailed in the explanatory letter issued with their Valuation Certificate. Appeals to the Valuation Tribunal must be made no later than 12 October 2017.

It is intended to hold walk-in clinics in each Local Authority area following the publication of the new Valuation Lists. Staff from the Valuation Office will be available to answer queries relating to the issue of Valuation Certificates. No appointment will be necessary. Ratepayers attending the clinics are asked to bring their Valuation Certificate along with them.

Details of dates and locations for these clinics will be available here once confirmed.

SFA Webinar - Creating a winning SFA Awards entry
  • 14 September, 2:15pm

Tune in on 14 September for an SFA webinar on how to creating a winning SFA Awards entry. 

The SFA National Small Business Awards 2018 were officially launched by Awards Patron, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD on 4 September. The aim of the awards is to celebrate the achievements of small business in Ireland and to recognise the vital contribution of the small business community to the Irish economy.

Small firms (employing less than 50 people) have until 20 October to enter free of charge here.

The Awards are free to enter and the prize package for ALL finalists is valued at €50,000 and there are categories to suit all sectors. 

SFA Executive, Louise Kenrick will deliver the webinar from 2:15pm - 2:30pm which will cover:

  • What's in it for you - why your business should submit an application
  • The entry categories and criteria
  • Tips for completing your application

You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

Register online now for the webinar here

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you can't make this time, you can still register for the session and we'll send you a link to the recording afterwards so you can playback in your own time. 

The disciplinary process - SFA Employment Law Conference
  • Limerick - Castletroy Park Hotel - 20 September 
  • Dublin - Clontarf Castle - 9 October 

Whats on the horizon?

This year’s SFA Employment Law Conference tells you what you need to know about the developments in employment law, learning lessons from recent cases and also highlighting the pitfalls to avoid.

David O’Riordan, Sherwin O’Riordan solicitors, will be discussing the disciplinary procedure and how this can be effectively managed by employers. It is often the case that employers find that they are the ones under scrutiny when employees challenge the manner in which the disciplinary process was conducted. This can be very frustrating and can detract time away from dealing with the real issue as to why disciplinary action was taken in the first place.

Attendees at the conference will be given a roadmap to guide them through the disciplinary process to keep it on track and prevent any costly procedural errors being made along the way.


Who should attend?

  • All owner managers or managers in small businesses who need to build their competence and confidence in the vital area of employment legislation.


  • SFA Member rate: €190 + VAT @ 23% (€233.70)

Book your place at the Limerick or Dublin event now. 

Business on the go - how to get the most from a flexible team
  • 27 September

Business on the go - how to get the most from a flexible team

With keynote speaker Jason Sherlock 

Small businesses are being placed under increasing pressure to consider alternative models of work. This pressure comes from a more demanding marketplace and from employees that are seeking to address the balance between work and other commitments.


Flexible working arrangements can work to the advantage of both employers and employees. This event will provide HR tips for implementing flexible working in your business, how to keep mobile workers motivated and technology solutions.  

  • Date: Wednesday, 27 September – 5:30pm – 8pm
  • Venue: Three, 28/29 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin



Jason Sherlock, legendary Dublin footballer and now Selector with the Dublin Football team will share his thoughts from personal experience on the performance of teams and how this translates from the pitch to a modern workplace.


Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive will discuss the management of remote workers which include those working from home, in satellite offices and those who drive for work. Ciara will focus on the policies that you should have in place in these situations to meet your obligations as an employer and will look at the health and safety and working time considerations of having these types of workers.


A panel discussion will follow talking to award-winning small businesses and how they have successfully implemented flexible working and the technology solutions available.


Panel participants:

  • Jason Sherlock, Selector with the Dublin Football team
  • Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive
  • Dave Byrne, MD Dualtron
  • Darren Fortune, MD Ventac
  • Karl McDermott, Head of 3Connected Solutions at Three

Who should attend?


If you have employees who work flexibly or would like to implement flexible working in your small business then this is the event for you.

The event will last for approximately 75 minutes with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.

This event is free to attend but please pre-register online here.

Promoting and Financing Energy Efficiency in Ireland and the UK
  • 28 September

The European Commission, in partnership with the UN Environment Finance Initiative, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is organising a regional Conference on Promoting and Financing Energy Efficiency in Ireland and the United Kingdom, which will take place in Dublin on Thursday, 28 September 2017, from 9am to 4:30pm. 

The event will be an opportunity to: 
  • Present and discuss EU Energy Efficiency Policy and EU support to finance energy efficiency investments
  • Engage policymakers and stakeholders in an informed discussion on ways to upscale energy efficiency investments
  • Present the opportunities for unlocking the potential for energy efficiency across the region
  • Share best practice on how to reach out to and engage SMEs in thinking about energy efficiency investments
  • Identify ways to overcome barriers to investment and possible next steps on future cooperation
  • Learn from successful European examples on energy efficiency investments.
To register to attend the event, please complete the registration form here or visit the webpage for the event for the full event agenda. 
Book now - SFA Annual Lunch 2017
  • 10 November
  • The Mansion House

The SFA Annual Lunch is the highlight of the small business calendar. It is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution that small businesses make to the Irish economy and society.

The SFA Annual Lunch 2017 will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Friday, 10 November from 12:30pm - 4:30pm. 

Join over 500 guests, including small business owner-managers, politicians, senior government officials and media for the biggest business lunch of the year for small business. This is also the perfect opportunity to bring together your invited guests, special customers, clients and valued employees to kick off the festive season.

Member rate of €750 + VAT for a table of 10 or €75 + VAT - book your tickets online now

Limited places remaining: Project Management one-day course, 15 September

The SFA’s Project Management course has been described by a 2016 delegate as: “Excellently delivered course with real life scenarios that I can bring into my role.” Book now for you and your key employees... 

Do you or your managers need to develop your project management skills?

The SFA’s Project Management course has been described by a 2016 delegate as: “Excellently delivered course with real life scenarios that I can bring into my role.”

Topics covered include:

  • Identifying the life cycle and phases of a project
  • Key communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ensuring deadlines are agreed and met
  • Delivering results every time


  • When: 15 September
  • Where: Ibec, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
  • Cost: €190 per delegate
  • Book now by clicking here

Other courses

Booking is now open for the following courses:

  • Project Management: 15 September (see here) or 7 December (see here)
  • Performance Management and Appraisal Skills: 14 December (see here)
  • Foundations in Management: 23-24 November (see here)
  • Foundations in Employment Law: 30 November-1 December (see here)

The price for SFA members is €190 per person for the one-day courses and €370 for the two-day courses.

For all upcoming events and training courses, see www.sfa.ie/events