SFA E-zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this week's edition of our SFA e-zine.  Don’t we all wish the Leaving Certificate could go on for 2 months so we could hold on to summer for a little bit longer!


We have some excellent articles for you this week, one of them in particular is about reasonable accommodation in the workplace.  We also have an update on GDPR and the changes in how the DPC manages complaints and investigations.  


We are concerned about the new banded hours bill that is currently being drafted and issued a press release on Monday about this issue.  We will be sending a communication to all members about this topic, if you offer flexible working arrangements please ensure you read the communication. 


Last week we launched our SFA Affinity scheme last week and over the coming weeks we will be profiling one offer per week. This week we have the spotlight on DHL Express.  


There is still a short amount of time and a small amount of places left for our regional Business Connect event taking place in Abbott Diagnostics tomorrow.  It's free and open to both members and non-members.  Just register here.


In our supporting SME’s section today we are looking at the new workplace Innovation Toolkit that was launched last week, make sure to take some time to look at this new offering.


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


Employer wins equality case on reasonable accommodation issue

We share a recent case taken under the Equality Act whereby a complainant stated that their employer did not provide ‘reasonable accommodation’ for her disability. Read on to learn how the company won the case and what steps they took to ensure that reasonable accommodation was given in this case…

Under the Employment Equality Act, a person who has a disability is considered fully competent and capable of carrying out normal duties if reasonable accommodation is provided by the business. The employee with a disability should have access to employment, be able to advance in their employment and undergo training. 


Reasonable measures could include some of the following depending on the type and size of the business as well as the nature of the employment role:

  • Adaptation of the premises and equipment
  • A change in working hours
  • A change in duties
  • Specialised equipment
  • Redistribution of some tasks
  • Retraining


However, if the reasonable accommodation imposes a disproportionate burden on the business, they would need to objectively state this based upon a full assessment of viable options. If the measures are too burdensome, account shall be taken of the following:

  • The financial and other costs involved
  • The scale and financial resources of the employer’s business
  • The possibility of obtaining public funding or other assistance


In a recent adjudication case, a nurse took a claim under the Employment Equality Act on the grounds that her employer did not offer reasonable accommodation in light of her disability.


The complainant was a psychiatric nurse who had worked in the community for 13 years. A redeployment of her role along with three other nurses was due to take place after consultation with their union. The complainant outlined her concerns in relation to this change, citing that it would cause too much stress and impact her disability. In addition, the complainant suffered a “Transient Ischemic Attack” (TIA) when the left side of her body went limp and she was unable to speak. As a result of this attack and the stress in the workplace, her GP stated she was unfit for work.


When the complainant returned to work she was still asked to work in different locations dealing with challenging patients and she felt she could not deal with the manual handling of patients alone. She requested another location, but this would require her to work alone at night and her employer deemed this as a safety risk in light of her disability, so her request was refused. Instead they offered her the opportunity to work in a Resource Centre whereby other colleagues were close on hand to assist the complainant with heavy lifting and other supports. It did mean that the complainant would lose out on shift premiums and night work and she subsequently refused this role. The complainant argued that she was left with no option but to retire early and that her employer had not reasonably accommodate her disabilities.


Having reviewed both sides of the argument, the adjudicator found in favour of the employer as the complainant had been "reasonably accommodated by the Respondent" when her employer offered her the Resource Centre role. It was deemed the most viable option in light of her disabilities, however, the complainant had "declined the offer to work in this centre".


Key takeaways you can learn from this case


  1. The employer considered all viable options in assessing what was the best alternative location for the employee
  2. The employer based their reports on the latest medical advice and repeatedly sent the employee to their own occupational health specialist to assess their fitness to work
  3. They met with the employee and heard their concerns and did their best to accommodate the employee’s disability offering what was the best option for them in light of their disability whilst balancing this against any safety risks


If you have a concern about reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability  you can contact Helen at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our HR and employment law advice section on www.sfa.ie


Enforcement powers under the new Data Protection Act 2018

The Data Protection Act 2018 was published on 24 May and this week’s article gives a brief overview of the changes in how the Data Protection Commission (DPC) handle complaints, investigations and what their enforcement powers are under the Act….

The Data Protection Act 2018 came into force on 24 May and this article will briefly look at those changes in relation to how they will handle complaints, investigations and their enforcement powers under the Act.


The new Act gives the Data Protection Commission (DPC) more scope in how they handle complaints from data subjects or from not for profit bodies who act on the data subject’s behalf. The DPC is required to investigate all complaints and a complaint can only be rejected if it is found to be frivolous or vexatious.


Outlined below are the ways that the DPC will handle or investigate a complaint depending on the nature and circumstances of the complaint or issue:


  1. Amicable resolution

If the DPC considers that there is a “reasonable likelihood” of both parties reaching an amicable solution of the complaint, the DPC may arrange or facilitate that resolution. Once it has been reached the complaint will have been deemed to be withdrawn and no formal statutory decision will be required.


If an amicable resolution cannot be reached the DPC must take one or more of the following actions as detailed under section 109 of the Act:


  • Reject the complaint
  • Dismiss the complaint
  • Provide advice to the data subject in relation to the complaint
  • Serve an enforcement notice requiring the data controller or processor to take certain actions in line with data protection law
  • Conduct an inquiry into the complaint
  • Take other such actions as the DPC considers to be appropriate

      2.Conducting an inquiry / investigation


The DPC may conduct an inquiry based on a complaint they have received or if they decide to conduct an inquiry of their own. They do not need to establish a reason or cause to conduct their own inquiry.


Under the Act the DPC can appoint an authorised officer with broad powers to enter a business premises without any warning or notice to conduct an investigation. In addition, they do not need to provide a search warrant for this. It is an offence to stop or impede an officer, to refuse to comply with a request from the officer and to alter, suppress or destroy any information that the officer may reasonably require.


The officer may search and inspect the premises and any information found in the premises. They can secure and take away information or equipment for later inspection. This also includes documentation as well. Employees of the business may be required to produce documents that relate to the processing of personal data that they deal with and they are required to supply the officer with any passwords to enable them to access and examine the documents.


Businesses may also receive an information and enforcement notice which may require them to either provide the information required or take specified steps. Again it is an offence to refuse to comply with these notices. However, a business has the right to appeal any notice and this must be made to the High Court within 28 days of receipt of the notice.


In addition, the DPC may carry out an investigation in the form of a data protection audit to ensure that the practices and procedures of the controller or processor complies with GDPR. Businesses will be given seven days’ notice that the DPC intends to start a data protection audit.


Once the investigation is complete the officer will make a report to the DPC on whether an infringement has taken place or not. The officer is not empowered to make any recommendations, their role is one of fact finding and producing a report based on their findings. The DPC will consider the report, they may request additional information from the data controller or data processor and, having carefully assessed all the evidence, they will make a decision whereby they could impose an administrative sanction. Businesses have the right to appeal the sanction through the Circuit Court if the fine does not exceed €75,000 or the High Court if it is a higher amount. Appeals must be lodged within 28 days.


We will continue to provide updates on the enforcements powers of the DPC, however, our recommendation is that if you co-operate with the DPC in any compliant or request they will take a proportionate view. You can read the Data Protection Act 2018 here


If you would like more information on GDPR or to discuss your requirements further, please contact Helen at SFA on 01 6051668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our GDPR section on www.sfa.ie/advice

SFA Affinity Scheme spotlight on..........

DHL Express are delighted to support small business with their excellent offer to SFA members.

When you ship with DHL Express – you’re shipping with specialists in international shipping and courier delivery services!

With a wide range of express parcel and package services, along with shipping and tracking solutions to fit your needs – learn how DHL Express can deliver.


Click here to avail of this SFA Affinity offer with DHL.


Keep us posted on how much you have saved by using #savedwithSFA on twitter!

Banded Hours Bill out of touch with small businesses

The Small Firms Association has issued a statement criticising the draft Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017, which is currently before the Dáil.

SFA Director Sven Spollen-Behrens stated: “The so-called ‘Banded Hours Bill’ is completely out of touch with the reality facing many small businesses. Flexible work arrangements are essential in a number of sectors to meet the demands of 21st century customers. Outlawing this flexibility will wipe out many small businesses providing elderly care, for instance, as well as small retail and hospitality operators.”


Flexible employment suits many people at different stages of their lives, including students, parents and carers. There is a general desire amongst these groups to stay connected to the workforce, developing skills and earning, but with the option to decline shifts when they are not available.


“A cohort of SFA members have told us that they will not be able to operate their businesses if the Banded Hours Bill is introduced in its current form. The SFA is calling on TDs to stand up for flexibility for small firms and the people they employ around the country,” concluded Mr. Spollen-Behrens.


The SFA is calling on members to contact their local TDs on this issue. A draft letter for this purpose will be circulated to all members tomorrow.


To discuss this issue in more detail, contact Linda on 01 6051626 or linda.barry@sfa.ie.

The workplace Innovation Toolkit has been launched

Workplace Innovation is recognised as one further method to help retain and ultimately increase employment in firms. The workplace Innovation Toolkit was launched by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD. It will help companies…


The workplace Innovation Toolkit has been launched by Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD. It is a practical tool to help companies and their workforces identify where there is scope to improve their business and their work practices. This, in turn, will help them to become more resilient and more sustainable, enhance skills, and support them in maintaining and creating employment.


Based on four pillars of employee engagement; innovation; productivity; and training, this diagnostic toolkit provides an online questionnaire of 25 questions designed to facilitate self-evaluation of the organisation's capacity to be an innovative workplace.  The Toolkit, which can be used as a resource for ambitious firms to innovate and compete successfully in an increasingly uncertain global trading environment, will point companies to the relevant supports to help them improve and grow their business. 


Minister Humphreys said, “Evidence shows that workplace innovation leads to significant and sustainable improvements both in organisational performance and in employee engagement and well-being.”


The Workplace Innovation Toolkit is an initiative under the Government's 2018 Action Plan for Jobs and can be accessed at: https://witool.dbei.gov.ie/#/ei-login


The Action Plan for Jobs 2018 sets out four key immediate aims, to ensure that:

  • Ireland’s enterprise base can be successful amid the uncertainty created by Brexit;
  • All parts of the country achieve their potential in terms of job creation;
  • Those entering, re-entering, or in the workforce have the incentives and skills needed to prosper and lead fulfilling lives; and
  • Ireland’s enterprise base remains successful by focusing relentlessly on competitiveness, productivity, and innovation.

With the APJ 2018, the Government demonstrates its commitment to support the long-term growth of enterprise, in particular SMEs.

Regional Business Connect Networking Event
  • 13 June, Abbott Diagnostics, Longford


With Business Connect, we aim to shine a light on some of the successful collaborations between different parts of Ireland’s business community and to create a pipeline of opportunities for all businesses, large and small. After the success of the first Business Connect event in Dublin in February, we are now bringing smaller events to regional locations. In collaboration with Abbott we are holding an evening networking event in their Longford facility on 13 June 2018 from 5.30pm.


Abbott Diagnostic, Longford


Wednesday, 13 June, commencing with registration and refreshments at 5.30pm.  The seminar will kick off at 6pm sharp and will last approximately one hour with a tour of Abbott afterwards

How much:

This event is entirely free of change to attend however you must register


5.30-6.00pm       Meet and greet

6.00-6.45pm       Presentations

- SFA welcome

- Abbott Ireland

- Case study: Abbott Mentorship Programme for small businesses

- MÓR Model

6.45-7.30pm       Group tours

7.30pm               Q&A and wrap up

The event is open to SFA members and non-members. It will last for approximately two hours with an opportunity to network before and after. Refreshments will be provided.

This event is entirely free of charge, but you must register.

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Gillian O'Keefe, Tel: +353 1 605 1664


Employee Share Ownership Day conference
  • 21 June, Google HQ Dublin

The Irish ProShare Association is offering SFA members a 62% discount on tickets to ESOD18 – the highlight of the Employee Share Ownership calendar.


Taking place on June 21 at Google Ireland HQ in Dublin, ESOD18 is a conference run by IPSA in partnership with the Global Equity Organisation. This year’s event features international business leaders speaking about:


  • How employee share ownership improves competitiveness and motivates your staff;
  • What form of employee share ownership is best for your business;
  • Employee Ownership Trusts for succession planning in SME and family-owned businesses;
  • Brexit Proofing – Employee Share Ownership in UK Private firms;
  • What the Government can do to support employee share ownership in Ireland.


The first half of the conference is specifically focused on share remuneration in start-ups and SMEs. There will also be terrific panel discussions and networking opportunities.


SFA members can buy tickets for ESOD 18 here for €85, as opposed to the full price ticket rate of €225. Enter the Registration code IPSAESOD18 when registering.


* The Irish ProShare Association represents and advocates on behalf of Irish companies which are employee owned or transitioning to some form of employee share ownership.

SFA Affinity Scheme webinar
  • 29 June, 11 am, Webinar

The SFA would like to invite you to join Sven Spollen-Behrens at our next webinar where he will be talking to you about all the savings that can be made by availing of all the great offers available exclusively to SFA members. 


This event will take place online, it is free to attend but please make sure to register your place here.



Manual Handling and other upcoming training courses

Manual Handling 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.


 Manual Handling


This course is designed for workers who need to be trained to safely move and handle inanimate objects under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work 2005 and Manual Handling Regulations 1993 and 2007.


Course Aim:

To provide learners with the knowledge, skills and attitude required for safe manual handling of inanimate objects.

Course Content:

Manual Handling Legislation

Anatomy of the spine

Common back injuries

Biomechanics of manual handling

Manual handling risk assessment

Safe Lifting Techniques and practice

Dealing with unfamiliar loads

Importance of PPE and appropriate clothing

Manual handling assessment Backcare in everyday life

Other upcoming courses

  • Performance Management (one-day course, 07 September)
  • Safety Awareness for Managers (one-day course, 10 September)

One-day courses are charged at €220 and half-day courses €150 for SFA members. Courses can be booked at http://www.sfa.ie/events


For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Marie Keogh, Tel: 01-6051645