SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition
Looking back at 2017, ahead to 2018 and GDPR

Dear Member, 


After a very successful Business Bytes talk last week in the SFA offices and the launch of our GDPR toolkit, in this week's e-zine we are starting our weekly GDPR tip, and this week we look at 'what is personal data?'


We have a review of the Awards Masterclass that took place with the finalists in Athlone, where the purpose of the event was to immerse the finalists in an entrepreneurial environment to stimulate new ideas for growth.


We tell you how you can avail of €2,500 to get your micro firm trading online.  Read about fixed term and specified purpose contracts and how best to protect your business, as well as taking a look at Ibec’s Europe and Global Focus newest publication.


Book a place on one of our upcoming training courses including Health & Safety, employment law and management development.  Places are filling up quickly for the first Business Connect event, make sure to book you place today.   


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

Recent press coverage

  • Outlook for 2018

  • Tax breaks

Outlook for 2018


The SFA were referred to in an article in the The Irish Examiner on the 12 January about the optimistic outlook for 2018 in tourism and small business.


Tax breaks


The SFA were referred to in The Sunday Business Post on the 14 January, in an article about new tax breaks clearing the way for free office showers and gyms.

GDPR – What is personal data? What is special category data?

Each week SFA will be sharing tips on GDPR and this week we briefly look at how personal data differs from special category data. Read on to spot the difference…



Each week we will be sharing an article on GDPR on the SFA weekly e-zine to help our members prepare. This week we are going to look at the definition of personal data and what are special categories of (sensitive) personal data.


A good first step in conducting your GDPR audit is to determine which data your organisation has. Is it just personal data or both personal and special category data?


Personal data:

This relates to information held either electronically or on paper to a living individual "who is, or can be, identified by that information, including data that can be combined with other information to identify an individual. This can be a very wide definition, depending on the circumstances, and can include data which relates to the identity, characteristics or behaviour of an individual or influences the way in which that individual is treated or evaluated."


In other words, the data must relate to a living person. An e-mail address or their full name is personal data. A telephone number on its own would not be classified as personal data, however, if that number is linked with a name or email address, it then becomes personal data and would be subject to GDPR requirements. 


Special categories of (sensitive) personal data:

This relates to sensitive personal information that 'reveals racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation'


This type of data relates to sensitive information that is connected with an individual and under the GDPR requirements this type of data can only be processed for specific purposes which will be discussed in depth in next week’s e-zine.


Ready to start your GDPR checklist? Download it 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 www.sfa.ie/advice


Temporary contracts: Fixed term contracts vs specified purpose contracts

Want to know more about temporary contracts or which one is best for your business? Fixed Term of Specified Purpose? Then read on to find out more….

The two most common types of temporary contracts are fixed term contracts and specified purpose contracts. In this article we will look at what is a temporary contract and outline the difference between the two types, as well as the benefits and risk for each one.  


What are temporary contracts?


The Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 covers all temporary employees that have a contract of employment where the end of it is determined by one of the following conditions:

• a specific time period e.g: a maternity leave or long term sick cover

• the completion of a specific task e.g: a project

• the occurrence of a specific event e.g: holiday or seasonal cover


The Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Work) Act was introduced to avoid the abuse of successive contracts indefinitely, when a permanent role could be offered instead. If your business is hiring temporary employees it is important to document the purpose of the temporary contract, for example, if it is to cover another employee on long term absence. Under the Act all temporary employees must have equal access to remuneration, conditions of work and access to vacancies in line with comparable permanent staff.


In the case of temporary employees who are employed for one or more years, it is important to note that the Unfair Dismissal Act also applies in addition to Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act. However, the Unfair Dismissal Act can be excluded, in relation to the natural end of the temporary contract, once the following conditions are met:


• the temporary contract is in writing

• it states that the Unfair Dismissals Acts shall not apply to a dismissal only on the expiry of the contract

• it is signed by or on behalf of the employer and by the employee.


Finally if a temporary employee is with the company for 104 or more weeks of reckonable service they are entitled to statutory redundancy payment if the role is made redundant.


Once you have determined why you need a temporary employee then you need to consider which temporary contract should you use? A fixed term or specified purpose contract?


What is a fixed term contract?


A fixed term contract has a start date and an end date, so it is specific to a period of time.  The benefit of this type of contract is that there is nothing in the legislation that prevents an employer from providing a single fixed term contract for a specific duration, e.g: five years.


The risk arises when two or more successive fixed term contracts exceed an aggregate of four years. If that occurs the business must offer a contract of indefinite duration or what is commonly known as a permanent contract.  It is advisable to include a clause that allows either party to terminate the employment before its expiry date once due notice has been given as without it the temporary employee could sue for breach of contract.


The administration for this type of contract is higher when the contract is renewed as the employer must inform the employee in writing why the role is being renewed and explain why a permanent role has not been offered.


What is a specified purpose contract?


A specified purpose contract has a start date but there is no end date. It is used for a specific event or task. This type of temporary contract is both flexible and cost effective as it is the best type of temporary contract to cover long term absences such as maternity leave cover that has no clear return to work date and it is ideal for busy seasonal periods or for a project or event that has an unclear end date. As it has no end date there is no requirement to renew the contract each time and this reduces the amount of administration required.


The risk exposure for this type of contract is that the employee is hired only for the specific task, event or role they are covering in the case of an absent permanent employee. They cannot be transferred to another role or task for instance.


Which one should I use?


It all depends on your business requirement but you can download our guidelines and sample contract here


If you would like more information on temporary contracts or to discuss your requirements further please 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/advice

SFA Awards Masterclass

Friday and Saturday gone, SFA hosted the Awards Masterclass for all finalists in the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone. 

The purpose of the Masterclass is to immerse business owners in an entrepreneurial environment to stimulate new ideas for growth, share experiences with contemporaries, learn from the success and mistakes of others and build lasting working relationships.

This management programme has been designed to help business owners take a more strategic approach to managing their business and to develop their own personal skills. ManagementWorks, an initiative of Skillnets, the SFA Awards Management Training Partner.


Speakers over the weekend included Barry McLoughlin, from the Communications Clinic who helped our finalists understand the media, to prepare for media interviews, both on camera and off, developing a media plan and how to present yourself and your business.

Eddie Walsh from ActionCOACH was also on hand to help finalists improve their performance and achieve lasting results, how to become a more effective leader, and how to build a team of highly

engaged, highly motivated employees that deliver results.

There was also an opportunity to challenge thoughts on what’s possible in today’s marketplace.


Helen Quinn, SFA Executive with responsibility for all HR, employment law and GDPR / data protection member queries spoke to the group about the best ways to retain staff on a tight budget. With such a competitive market Helen showed us great ways to bring fun and wellness into the workplace and showed the benefits of working in a small business and flexible working options.


Liam Tolton from SEAI presented to the group, helping finalists to understand the complexity of energy bills and how to structure an energy management strategy to ensure energy usage is monitored and how to make significant energy savings for your business through audit.


This excellent event was open to all our 2018 award finalists.  If you or any other small business would be interested in entering our awards for 2019 please get in touch with Gillian O'Keefe at SFA on 01 605 1664 or at gillian.okeefe@sfa.ie or visit our current awards website.

Ibec Europe & Global Focus - Issue 5

This edition brings you a summary of Ibec's events and activities in Brussels and further afield, including updates on a number of international issues with an impact on Irish business. 

SFA are pleased to share with you the fifth issue of Ibec Europe & Global Focus a quarterly overview of the main developments impacting Irish business at EU and global level. 


Following agreement on the first phase of the UK’s withdrawal, business attention turns to the future of the EU-UK relationship and the complex negotiations still to come. This issue brings you full analysis of the deal, what it really means for Irish business and what is likely to happen next.


The busy autumn semester in Brussels has seen the current Commission publish its final work plan, a flurry of debate about the EU’s financial future and Bulgaria’s preparations for its inaugural EU Presidency. Read the report on the apparent easing of the political deadlock in Germany, in addition to new developments in internal market policy, social affairs and global trade.  





€2,500 available to help your business to trade online

Spotlight on the Trading Online Voucher Scheme, which offers €2,500 to micro-firms to get them trading online. 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.


Trading Online Voucher Scheme


A cash contribution of up to €2,500 to help get your business trading online, plus training, mentoring and networking. 

The vouchers can be used for:

  • IT consultation
  • Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website
  • Implementing an online payments or bookings system
  • Development or implementation of a digital marketing strategy
  • Development of an app
  • Purchase of internet-related software
  • Training/skills development



Irish people spend €850,000 per hour online and the size of the digital economy is growing by 20% per year, so there are huge business opportunities online.

Feedback from companies who have used the vouchers:

  • 80% jump in sales leads
  • 20% increase in sales
  • 3 in 5 exported for the first time



The scheme is run by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), which work with companies to prepare their applications. The first step is to attend an information session run by a LEO. For more information and to find your nearest LEO, visit the LEO website.


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

  • The vouchers are specifically for micro-firms with less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2 million
  • Applicants must be trading for at least 12 months and have limited online trading presence
  • Selection will be based on eligibility, value added potential, export potential, job creation potential and financial sustainability
  • The voucher cannot be used to cover the entire cost of the project – it will only match other finance to a limit of €2,500
  • Approval must be received before any expenditure is made and companies receive the funding on completion of the project (which must be within three months of the start date)


Delivering Accountability under GDPR
  • 23 January, Dublin Castle

Date: 23 January 2018
Time: 9:30am-5:30pm
Venue: Printworks, Dublin Castle, Dame St, Dublin 2, Ireland


This unique and innovative workshop will highlight and demonstrate how an organisation can implement the GDPR in practice, through interactive discussions and presentations from industry-leading data privacy experts.


The workshop will provide a hands-on approach to the GDPR and will cover the following topics:


  • How can controllers and processors build accountability under the GDPR
  • Risk management and data protection impact assessments
  • Data protection by design
  • Preparing for and managing security breaches 
  • Transparency, individual rights and complaint handling

The event is aimed at SMEs and public sector bodies, who are processing and storing personal data, and who will be directly affected by the GDPR coming into effect on 25 May 2018.  

To register your interest in the event please email events@dataprotection.ie with the following information:*


  • Name
  • Email address
  • Company name

There is a high demand for attendance, so please register your interest no later than noon Friday 19 January 2018.


*This personal information is solely for the purpose of registration for the event and will be kept and processed by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner for a limited time and to facilitate the management of the event.



Introduction to selling to government
  • 31 January, SFA offices

InterTradeIreland in partnership with the Office of Government Procurement and SFA is delighted to deliver the first of a series of breakfast workshops to demystify, educate and engage businesses on the island around public procurement, a market worth in the region of €12b pa. 

This introductory level briefing hosted by the Small Firms Association will be opened by Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan and will cover:

  • What is public procurement?
  • The public procurement models on the island
  • How to access opportunities
  • Good bidding practice and common mistakes to avoid

The briefing is aimed at micro businesses and SME’s who are new to public procurement or those who wish to update their market knowledge. 

The briefing will also be an opportunity to network with like-minded businesses.

Date: 31 January 2018
Time: 8:00-10:30am, with registration from 7:30am
Venue: SFA/Ibec Offices, 84-86 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2, D02 H720
Register herehttp://www.intertradeireland.com/events/selling-to-government---breakfast-briefing

This event is the first in a series of breakfast briefings. The other events in the series are:

  • Waterford: 28/02/2018, Granville Hotel, Waterford - intermediate level
  • Athlone: 11/04/2018, Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone - introductory level
  • Cork: 16/05/2018, Clayton Hotel Silver Springs, Cork - intermediate level
  • Galway: 26/09/2018, Menlo Park Hotel, Galway - introductory level
  • Kildare: 24/10/2018, Keadeen Newbridge - introductory level
  • Limerick: 21/11/2018, Radisson Blu Hotel, Limerick - intermediate session
SFA Business Connect
  • 1 February 2018, Aviva Stadium

We are delighted to invite you to attend the SFA's brand new event, Business Connect 2018.  Use Business Connect to build your network with many of Ireland’s leading larger companies.


Hear from a range of large companies on how they do business and how they connect with smaller organisations. Hear also from smaller companies who are successfully providing innovative and agile solutions to larger organisations. 


At this marketplace event, indigenous and multinational companies of all sizes will share a platform to discuss how best we can do business together. The event will take place in Aviva Stadium, Landsdowne Road, Dublin 4. Further details on how to book here. 

Health & safety, employment law and management development courses for SFA members

‘Training that counts’ is the SFA’s suite of training programmes for 2018, including a range of health & safety, HR, employment law, finance and management courses. Courses range from half a day to two days, with special rates for SFA members.   

Is too much time spent on tasks and meetings that seem urgent but are not important for the future of your business? At SFA, we’re here to help you create time for things that can make a real difference, like developing management capacity and other skills for you and your staff.


The courses being offered in 2018 are:

  • Manual handling (half-day)
  • Developing and Implementing Strategy (1 day)
  • Effective Presentation Skills (1 day)
  • Employment Law: Discipline and Dismissal (1 day)
  • Finance and Accounting Made Easy (1 day)
  • First Aid Response (1 day)
  • Manage Your Time Effectively (1 day)
  • Performance Management and Appraisal Skills (1 day)
  • Powerful Performance Conversations (1 day)
  • Project Management (1 day)
  • Safety Awareness for Managers (1 day)
  • Foundations in Management (2 days)

The courses are offered at a price that makes it realistic for small companies to participate:

  • Half-day course: €150 for SFA members
  • One-day course: €220 for SFA members
  • Two-day course: €400 for SFA members

Book your places now at www.sfa.ie/events or find out more about customised training and other options here.