SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member,   

In this week's e-zine, we advise on when an employee is entitled to force majeure leave.

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

We bring you details of the IEDR Digital Health Index and information on an SFA meeting with Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe. We encourage you to take part in the Irish Business Monitor Survey and provide information on the new generalised system of preference for exporters to Canada.

 

If you currently export or are considering exporting to the US don't miss the E3 Dublin event taking place on Thursday (29 June) for which SFA members can avail of a 50% discount. Book your place at the next SFA webinar on 26 July on government supports for small business. Use the summer months to plan your training agenda with one of of our upcoming training courses. 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 1626 or e-mail: linda.barry@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.


Kind regards, 

Linda Barry

SFA Acting Director


SFA IN THE MEDIA
Recent press coverage
 
  • Investment in small firms increasing despite Brexit concerns
  • Motivating employees

Investment in small firms increasing despite Brexit concerns

The SFA issued a press release on new data launched regarding the finance and investment priorities of small firms on 8 June. This week this was covered in Checkout on 20 June and the Sunday Independent on 25 June.

Motivating employees

SFA Acting Director, Linda Barry wrote an article for The Sunday Business Post on 25 June on motivating employees. 

NEWS
When is an employee entitled to force majeure leave?
 
Determining whether or not an employee is entitled to force majeure leave can present difficulty for many employers. In the context of the Parental Leave Acts 1998 to 2006, force majeure leave refers to a sudden injury or illness affecting a member of an employee’s immediate family, making that employee’s presence to assist that family member or domestic dependant indispensable...

Determining whether or not an employee is entitled to force majeure leave can present difficulty for many employers. In the context of the Parental Leave Acts 1998 to 2006, force majeure leave refers to a sudden injury or illness affecting a member of an employee’s immediate family, making that employee’s presence to assist that family member or domestic dependant indispensable. However, each case must be determined on its own particular set of facts and in this regard it is useful to look to the employment courts for some guidance in this area.

In a recent decision, the Labour Court rejected an employee’s claim that they were entitled to take force majeure leave three days after an injury was sustained by a family member. The Court held that in order for force majeure leave to apply, it is necessary that the reasons are urgent and the immediate presence of the employee is indispensable. In this case, the injury to the family member took place on 24 May and was treated medically on 25 May. The Court noted that force majeure leave was granted by the employer on 25 and 26 May and as such these day were not in dispute. The issue before the court was whether May 27 (the third day) should also be considered as force majeure leave. In agreeing with the employer, the Court was not satisfied that the circumstances warranted the third day constituting force majeure leave.

From this case, it is clear that the urgency of the situation and the employee’s presence being indispensable are key considerations in making a determination about whether force majeure leave should apply. In these circumstances, employees are entitled to immediate paid leave for up to three days in any 12-month period and up to five days in any 36-month period, notwithstanding their obligations otherwise under their contract of employment. Force majeure leave of less than a day is counted as a full day and the general entitlement is to a normal day’s pay for a day of force majeure leave. An employer must retain force majeure leave records for eight years. 

For further information on this area, you can consult the SFA guideline orcontact 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

What? 

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)

Why? 

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.

How? 

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.

Tips

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 13 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.
IEDR Digital Health Index
 
IEDR’s dot ie Digital Health Index measures the health of Irish SMEs’ digital presence by analysing the number of digital assets (like websites, apps and social media accounts) owned by them, and their perceived quality...
IEDR’s dot ie Digital Health Index measures the health of Irish SMEs’ digital presence by analysing the number of digital assets (like websites, apps and social media accounts) owned by them, and their perceived quality.

The latest Index shows that Irish businesses are still not engaging in e-commerce, despite the majority of Irish consumers buying and transacting online. Almost a quarter (22 percent) of Irish SMEs are still have no online presence whatsoever, that is no website, social media account or any other digital asset. Only 30 percent can take sales orders or process payments, while just 29 percent can accept bookings or reservations online.

83 percent of consumers think SMEs should have at least a basic website that lists contact details, while 68 percent believe a business is ‘outdated’ if it doesn’t have an online presence. 71 percent are more likely to buy from a business that has a website.

The research, commissioned by IEDR and undertaken by Ignite Research in March 2017, measured the health of 500 Irish SMEs’ digital presence by analysing the number of digital assets (like websites, apps and social media accounts) owned by them, and their perceived quality. You can view and download the complete Q1 2017 dot ie Digital Health Index here.

SFA delegation meets Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe
 

On 26 June, the SFA Acting Director and a number of SFA members met with Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia and chair of the National Governors Association. The SFA delegation emphasised the importance of the two-way economic relationship between the USA and Ireland...


On 26 June, the SFA Acting Director and a number of SFA members met with Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia.

 

The Governor was in Dublin as part of a seven-country tour to encourage foreign companies to locate in Virginia. He told the SFA delegation that Virginia is a pro-business, low-tax state, with particular strengths in the cyber security, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, defence and intelligence sectors. He shared information about policy initiatives that have driven enterprise and growth in the State, including curriculum and funding changes in education, investment in infrastructure (even a runway specifically for drones) and attraction of new industries to traditional mining areas.

 

The SFA delegation emphasised the importance of the two-way economic relationship between the USA and Ireland. They highlighted the strengths of the Irish business community and the depth of the ecosystem that includes both foreign multinationals and small businesses.

 

These themes will be discussed in more detail at the E3 conference in Dublin on Thursday. SFA members can use discount code SFA50 to avail of a 50% discount on the ticket price. 

New generalised system of preference for exporters to Canada
 
The Revenue Commissioners has released information for companies exporting to Canada and wanting to avail of preferential origin treatment under the new EU-Canada agreement. As from 01 January 2018, all exporters of consignments of goods with a value greater than €6,000 to Canada will have to be registered...

The Revenue Commissioners have released information for companies exporting to Canada and wanting to avail of preferential origin treatment under the new EU-Canada agreement. As from 01 January 2018, all exporters of consignments of goods with a value greater than €6,000 to Canada will have to be registered in the REX system and use their REX number on the origin declaration to claim preference under CETA.

The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is expected to be provisionally applied in the near future, possibly as early as September 2017. Under CETA, tariff duties will be eliminated for different types of goods on a staged basis with the rate of elimination determined by staging categories as set out in Annex 2 – A of the Agreement. CETA includes a Protocol on Rules of Origin and Origin Procedures.

The REX system is a new system of certification of origin of goods that has applied to the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) from 1 January 2017. It is a system of self certification by registered exporters who have been registered in the system by their competent authorities.

Once CETA is provisionally applied, the REX system should be applied by EU exporters for their exports to Canada on which they wish to claim origin preference under CET.


For queries please contact:

 

Origin Section, Customs Division

Email: origin&quotasection@revenue.ie 

+353 67 63260/+353 67 63213

1890 62 63 64

EVENTS
E3 Dublin
 
  • 29 June

Small businesses and entrepreneurs can internationalise more easily now than at any time in history. Yet, many small to mid-sized businesses do not explore new markets. Complexity and lack of credible contacts are among the principal reasons for the reluctance to expand globally. Regulations are especially burdensome for smaller firms.

The Entrepreneurship Export Exchange (E3) conference is enabling entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized businesses to connect with local and regional markets across the USA.  E3 events are expressly designed to provide businesses with an intimate, in-depth opportunity to engage with US and foreign trade officials. Unlike large trade expos, E3 will offer smaller firms the chance to spend more time, get specific answers to their questions, and personally meet the right contacts to pave the way.

The Dublin event is taking place on 29 June in Enterprise Ireland, East Point Business Park, Dublin 3. We are very pleased that SFA members can avail of a 50% discount on tickets using the code SFA50.

Why attend?

Access. Seldom is access to so many high-level officials from countries around the world available in such an intimate setting. E3 is designed for depth. This isn’t your standard international expo where you might hope to collect a couple cards or get a few minutes to pitch your business interests. Small companies will gain a deeper understanding of the issues, opportunities, and key actors they need to know to grow their companies in new markets overseas.

Agenda

  • 9:00 AM: Registration, Coffee and Networking
  • 9:30 AM: Opening Sessions and Welcome - Brett Bruen, President, Global Situation Room, Inc.
  • 9:45 AM: Niamh Bushnell, Founder and CEO of TechIreland, Dublin’s first Commissioner for Startups, and Founder of the Dublin Globe 
  • 10:00 AM: Laying the Landscape of Business in the United States - Dr Frank Levene, Avitus Group
  • 10:30 AM: Panel Discussion: Strategies for Small Firms, from Entrepreneurs Who Have Succeeded on Both Sides of the Atlantic
    • Moderator: Evan Rudowski, Atlantic Leap
    • Philip Noone, Managing Director, Aalto Bio Reagents
  • 11:15 AM: Presentations on U.S Markets
  • 1:00 PM: SelectUSA Outcomes
  • 1:15 PM: Does Your Company Have What it Takes to Go Global? - Thunderbird School of Global Management
  • 2:00 PM: Presentations on U.S Markets
  • 2:45 PM: Afternoon Coffee and Networking Break
  • 3:15 PM: Panel: Policy Shifts, and what Irish Businesses Need to Know
    • Moderator: Patrick Jephson
    • Simon McKeever, Irish Exporters Association
  • 4:00 PM: Closing Remarks and Keynote
  • 4:30 PM: Conference Close

Find out more and register to attend here

SFA Webinar - Government supports for small firms
 
  • 26 July

SFA Acting Director, Linda Barry will deliver a webinar on 26 July from 2:15pm - 2:45pm on 'The what, where and how of grants, loans, tax savings and other government supports.' 

Small businesses are missing opportunities to avail of government supports for their business due to lack of information and confusion. Understanding what supports your business qualifies for, where to apply for them and how to avoid some common pitfalls could be the key to sustaining your business or taking it to the next level. 

The webinar will cover:

  • the "Supporting SMEs online tool"
  • the various agencies that assist small business and their criteria
  • government policy incentives for starting and growing a business in Ireland
  • funding opportunities for small business, including SBCI, Microfinance Ireland and the Credit Review Office
  • enterprise space, training & mentoring, advice and promotional opportunities

There will also be a special focus on Brexit supports for small business to help you to assess the risks posed to your business by Brexit and navigate the challenges that have already arisen or may develop under different scenarios.

You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

Register online now for the webinar.

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.

Irish Business Monitor June 2017
 
  • Complete short survey & be in with a chance to win an ipad & 1 years’ subscription to the digital edition of The Irish Independent

Your Business Live, Ireland’s major small business event brings you the Irish Business Monitor – an indicator for businesses in Ireland, in partnership with SFA, Ibec and Enterprise Ireland.

Please answer the survey to ensure that your business is part of this monitor across sectors, industries and regions. 

Your Business Live is offering survey respondents the chance to win an ipad, one years’ subscription to the digital edition of The Irish Independent and a pair of tickets to the Your Business Live SME event taking place on 17 and 18 October 2017 in the RDS, Simmonscourt, Dublin.

Click here to take part in the Irish Business Monitor. 
TRAINING PROGRAMMES
Use the summer months to plan your training agenda
 

Developing your own skills and those of your staff is vital to personal and business performance and employee satisfaction. The SFA offers training courses tailored to small businesses. Check out the courses being offered by the SFA from September to December 2017 in the ‘Unlock your potential 2017’ brochure...


Invest in knowledge and interest will soon accrue in terms of chance of survival, business performance and, crucially, employee satisfaction. If a business has a culture of ongoing professional development and is willing to invest in their employees, it is more likely that staff will remain engaged and committed to the company for the long term.

In 2017, the SFA is focusing our course offering on the areas that will most benefit a small business. No matter what stage of development your business is at, these courses are designed to address your needs. Based on your feedback, the courses are short and are offered at very reasonable rates.

Avail of the training opportunities presented in the SFA ‘Unlock your potential 2017’ brochure to bolster your competitiveness and equip your business for the future.

Next available courses:

  • Foundations in Management, two-day course, 7-8 September, Dublin, €370 for SFA members
  • Project Management, one-day course, 15 September, Dublin, €190 for SFA members

To book your place, visit www.sfa.ie/events