SFA E-zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this week's edition of our SFA e-zine. 


We have some excellent articles for you this week, one of them in particular is employing non-EEA nationals. We are also delighted to have our new online GDPR training course, suitable for all staff. 


As the Irish economy continues to perform well,the latest statistics indicate that small businesses are seeing the benefits. However, there is evidence of global trends towards protectionism which could signal trouble – particularly the US steel and aluminium tariffs.


As an ongoing part of the SFA affinity scheme, each week we are highlighting some of the amazing offers available to members - this week we have the spotlight on Three.  


The Business Connect event in Longford last week was a huge success. Abbott Diagnostics talked about some key ways to keep employees engaged, check it out and consider attending the next regional event!


In our government support section today we are looking how you can expand your recruitment process to reach candidates across Europe with the Job Mobility Portal (EURES).


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
  • Banded Hours Bill

On 11 June, the SFA issued a press release 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.


You can read Sven's article in Fora here.


There was coverage in The Irish Times and the Evening Echo. 


A look at employing non-EEA nationals - the nine types of employment permits

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing different aspects of the employment permits process. This week we share the nine different types of employment permits that businesses can avail of when hiring non-EEA Nationals into the Irish workforce….

One of the key issues facing many small businesses at present is attracting key staff in a highly competitive employee market. We are seeing a big rise in the number of queries on how to employ non-EEA nationals and to navigate the employment permit process. Over the next few weeks we cover different aspects of the employment permit process. This week we start with the nine types of employment permits.


In order to work in Ireland a non-EEA National, unless they are exempted, must hold a valid employment permit which is administered by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI). There are nine categories of employment permits which are as follows:


Critical skills employment permit

The critical skills employment permit is designed to attract highly skilled people into the Irish labour market and aims to encourage them to take up permanent residence in the State. This permit is only valid in relation to roles that are listed on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List.


This type of permit is valid for two years and can be further extended. It does not require a labour market test, it lasts for two years and permit holders can easily apply for the dependent/partner/spouse employment permit if they bring their family over. The minimum annual wage is €30K-€60K per annum for a restricted number of roles and €60K or more per annum for all other roles.


General employment permit

The general employment permit is the main type of employment permit that is used by the State to attract third country nationals for occupations that are experiencing a labour or skills shortage. It allows for a broader range of occupations than the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List. However, there are a number of occupations that are ineligible and will not qualify under this type of permit. You can view the Ineligible Categories of Employment List here.


This type of permit is valid for two years and can be extended for a further three years. It must be a bone fide job offer and the minimum annual wage is €30K per annum, however, there are a few exceptions. A labour market test is required for this permit type and we will discuss the labour market test in next week’s article.


Dependant/partner/spouse employment permit

The dependant/partner/spouse employment permit allows the dependants, civil partners, and spouses of certain categories of employment permit holder, known as the primary permit holder, to apply for an employment permit to work in the State. It does not require a labour test and the minimum annual wage is €30K.


Reactivation employment permit

The reactivation employment permit is used for situations where a foreign national who previously had a valid employment permit but who fell out of the system through no fault of their own or who has been badly treated or exploited in the workplace. This permit allows them to work legally again in the State.


Intra-company transfer employment permit

The intra-company transfer employment permit is designed to allow the transfer of senior management, key personnel or trainees who are non-EEA nationals from an overseas branch of a multinational corporation to its Irish branch.


Internship employment permit

The internship employment permit facilitates the employment of foreign nationals who are full-time students and who are enrolled in a third level institution outside the State, for the purpose of gaining work experience within the State. The internship can only be one of the occupations listed in the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List and their course of study must be relevant to that list. At the end of the internship the employee must leave the State.


Contract for services employment permit

The contract for services employment permit is specific to a foreign undertaking/contractor that has won a contract to provide services to an Irish entity on a contract for services basis. It allows the transfer of non-EEA employees to work on that Irish contract in Ireland.


Sport and cultural employment permit

The sport and cultural employment permit is specifically designed to allow foreign nationals to work in the sport and cultural sectors.


Exchange agreement employment permit

The exchange agreement employment permit is used to facilitate the employment of foreign nationals in the State, in line with prescribed agreements or other international agreements. An example of this is the Fulbright Programme.


Applications for employment permits should be made to the employment permits section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation by either the prospective employee (who has obtained a conditional job offer) or the prospective employer on behalf of a non-EEA national they wish to recruit.


The applicant is responsible for paying the related fees. With all employment permits, the employer is prohibited from deducting recruitment expenses from the employee’s pay or retaining the employee’s personal documents (such as a passport or IRP).


Since 11 December 2017 the previous registration certificate (GNIB card) has been replaced with a new registration certificate called the Irish Residence Permit (IRP) in line with EU standards.


If you have a concern about employment permits  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/advice

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

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

Three have great offers for both new and existing customers including free line rental, unlimited mobile broadband, free mobile and much more.


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


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

Solid growth in domestic activity supports SMEs, but international risks persist

The June SME Economic Monitor finds further evidence of continued improvement in the domestic economy, with the vast majority of macroeconomic indicators trending favourably. Read on for more analysis and sectoral breakdown.

The growing Irish economy is continuing to filter down to industries where SMEs tend to operate, according to the SME Market Monitor compiled by EY-DKM on behalf of the Banking and Payments Federation (BPFI). For example, the retail sector saw growth in sales when compared to the previous year, with considerably stronger year-on-year increases in the sale of furniture and lighting (+11.4%), motor sales (+9%) and electrical goods (+7.4%).


The latest Investec Manufacturing PMI in April saw a marked acceleration in the rate of growth in new business, while exports also expanded at a significant rate. Despite an above average rise in input costs, business confidence in the sector remains quite strong, with the 12-month outlook for production reaching a 38-month high.


There was also an encouraging performance from the accommodation and food service sector, with output expanding by 11.5%, while employment in the sector was up 8.8% on the previous year.


Therefore, while it is clear that the Irish SME market has experienced solid growth in the past year, the medium-term prospects are unclear given the ever-changing global environment, particularly given recent developments in the United States. By authorising the imposition of a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% on aluminium imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, the US government has undoubtedly raised the prospect of a global trade war. Whether such a trade war comes to fruition remains to be seen, but the imposition of these trade tariffs by one of Ireland’s key trading partners raises the possibility of a more protectionist global trading environment in the medium term, an impact which will invariably affect an open economy like Ireland and thus the Irish SME environment.


In conjunction with this, slow progress of Brexit talks continues to create uncertainty about the future relationship of Ireland’s biggest trading partner, with continued exchange rate volatility being the likely factor in declining food production levels. That said, the likelihood of a “No Deal” scenario occurring, coupled with a potentially more protectionist trading environment globally, although very unclear at this moment, remains a possibility. Despite these global concerns, the current state of the Irish SME environment is quite positive.


The full report can be downloaded here.

Successful B2B event with Abbott diagnostics

Last week’s Business Connect event with Abbott Diagnostics in Longford was a huge success. Businesses from near and far were in attendance and the tour of the facility was insightful, with strategies on employee retention and engagement.

Last week’s Business Connect event with Abbott Diagnostics in Longford was a huge success. Businesses from near and far were in attendance and the tour of the facility was insightful, with strategies on employee retention and engagement.


The evening started off with Sven Spollen-Behrens speaking about the SFA and how important small businesses are to the Irish economy. Following Sven were three senior Abbott Diagnostics representatives: Ciaran Corcoran, Site Director; Stephen Kelleher, Business Excellence Manager; and Helena Warnock, HR Manager. They spoke about the MÓR model for self-diagnostics in lean manufacturing and best-practices, the Shingo model and how to create a culture of excellence, and the Abbott Mentorship Program. A core takeaway – they take their hiring practices very seriously and only hire the absolute best.


Afterwards, the tour of the facility showed some insight into how Abbott Diagnostics keeps their employees engaged. They use team boards which they must keep up to date on their performance and at a glance anyone can tell how the teams are doing. These boards are scattered all throughout the office, every team has one, and the best-looking board is given special recognition. These boards are a sense of pride among the teams, and it reflects in the work that they do. Something they mentioned is that they are re-examining the way they reward millennial employees so that their higher-than-industry-average employee retention remains in place going forward.


Keep an eye out for the next Business Connect event, where you can learn some helpful tips. The SFA will always be helping business to do business.

Expand your recruitment process to reach candidates across Europe

Spotlight on EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal, which provides support for employers looking to recruit job seekers from other European countries. This article provides information on the support 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.

European Job Mobility Portal (EURES)

Support to Irish businesses looking to recruit jobseekers from other EU/EEA countries.


EURES can assist by:

  • Advertising vacancies for the attention of jobseekers in Europe
  • Providing tailored European recruitment projects for individual employers

The EURES service gives employers access to a database of European jobseekers looking to work in Ireland. There are currently almost 400,000 CVs on the EURES database.


Employers may have difficulty recruiting staff in Ireland or may wish to broaden their recruitment process to reach jobseekers across Europe.


The Department of Social Protection is part of EURES, which is a European Commission network that links the databases of European Public Employment Services.


Employers looking to advertise a vacancy should first call the Employment Service National Contact Centre at 1890 800 024. You should then create an account directly on the EURES site, www.eures.europa.eu


For a larger scale recruitment project, you should first contact a EURES advisor from the advisor database. EURES advisers are Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection staff who are specially trained in European mobility matters. They can explain the EURES service to employers and, if required, organise a recruitment project in Europe. For example, if employers are having difficulties in filling large numbers of vacancies, a special European recruitment event can be organised using Public Employment Service partner organisations in other EU and EEA Member States.


If you are interested in availing of this service, don’t forget:

  • When planning your recruitment, think clearly about your deadlines. It may take longer to recruit someone from abroad.
  • Think about the level of language competency required by your candidates. 
  • Consider preparing a presentation for candidates that promotes the company and outlines the relocation support available. 
  • More information is available on the Department of Social Protection website and on the EURES website.
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.



Embracing diversity webinar
  • 25 July, 12pm, Webinar

The Irish workforce has changed significantly in the last twenty years. It unveils a more diverse workforce that spans across gender, nationality, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and age. We can see this diversity in small businesses up and down the country whereby people of all walks of life work together.

This webinar will give you a brief overview of what is diversity, what does it look like and how it can be strengthened within your business.

Then we will look at two areas of diversity that is increasing and how your business can create a more integrated workforce in relation to:

  • Understanding and integrating transgender employees
  • Longer working practices for older employees

We will share practical tips on how businesses can encourage a diverse workplace that recognises everyone is different and how to navigate those differences in a respectful and dignified manner for everyone.

The webinar will take place on 25 July at 12noon and will last about thirty minutes. If you would like to join us for this session please chick here.

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

Taking Care of Business: Free advice and information for businesses in the Mid-West
  • 25 September, Raidsson Blu hotel, Limerick

 free one-stop-shop event for SMEs, ‘Taking Care of Business’, will take place on Tuesday, 25 September 2018 in the Radisson Blu hotel and spa, Ennis Road, Limerick; this half-day event is for those who own or manage a small business or are thinking of starting a new business. 

A range of State offices, agencies and services will give short presentations and will have staff on hand at exhibition stands to answer questions about key regulations and what assistance is available to your business. Areas covered will include:

    • Tax, employment and Health & Safety obligations
    • Legal requirements for setting up and running your business
    • Supports from enterprise agencies

The half-day event will be opened by Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD. Information stands will be open throughout, allowing you to speak informally with staff from each of the bodies attending. 

To find out more about this unique event and to register, please visit www.takingcareofbusiness.ie. Attendance is free but early booking is strongly advised as numbers are limited. 


Register now at www.takingcareofbusiness.ie for this free-half day event in the Radisson Blue hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick, on September 2018

Online GDPR Training

Enrol your staff and managers on our newly designed online GDPR programme to ensure your staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR.

Committed to protecting the data of our staff and customers

Enrol your staff and managers on our newly designed online GDPR programme to ensure your staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a ground breaking piece of data protection legislation, which came into force on 25 May 2018, has a significant impact on all organisations, as it enhances the data protection rights of employees, imposes specific obligations on employers and introduces severe financial penalties for non-compliance.

Benefits of online training:

  • Accessible
  • Cost effective
  • Scalable

This course will provide participants with the knowledge to:

  • Describe personal information and data subject rights
  • Define consent
  • Explain the role of the Data Protection Commission, Data Controller, Data Processor, and Data Protection Officer
  • Determine accountability
  • Conduct breach management and outline our role in the prevention of breaches
  • Outline data subject access requests
  • Understand the issue of privacy and its implications

Cost: €70 per license            

Key features:

  • 30 minute duration   
  • Interactive exercises   
  • Short assessment   
  • Certificate of completion

For further information or to book a place, please contact raquel.delapena@ibec.ie or 01 605 1667