SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


This week we are continuing with our GDPR tip, focusing on 'Consent and transparency when gathering data'.


We also have an article to help you prepare your business and employees for an ageing workforce  as well as the most up to date information on the Government's Brexit loan scheme


A key focus for government and SFA alike is regional growth and development, we look at the new report from the ERSI on second tier cities.


Don't forget to send us your Big News for Small Business and be given the opportunity to feature in our Better Business magazine.


This is your last chance to book a place at Business Connect, make sure to book your 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

GDPR tip – Consent and transparency, keeping the language simple and clear

Each week we will be sharing tips on GDPR and this week we look at how to obtain consent in a clear and transparent manner using an illustrative example...

One of the key principles of GDPR is the right to clear and transparent information which was emphasised by Helen Dixon last week when she spoke at the CIPL/Irish Data Protection Commission Workshop on accountability. With this in mind, this week we are going to look ways of obtaining consent that is transparent and uses clear and plain language.


Consent is one of the six lawful reasons to obtain and process data and to use consent as a legal basis it must meet certain conditions. Under GDPR it defines consent as: “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject's wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.”


What this means is that the consent must be:

  • Freely given
  • Specific
  • Informed
  • Unambiguous

Freely given means that there should be no conditions attached to the consent. You cannot force a data subject to give consent and it must be made very clear what they are signing up for. If you must process data you need to choose another legal basis for processing it. In addition the use of pre-ticked boxes or silence is no longer seen as freely given consent under GDPR.


An example of asking for consent in a clear and transparent manner might be as follows (please note this example is for illustrative purposes only):


Yes I would like to receive updates from Joe Bloggs Limited on products & services, promotional offers, events and news from Joe Bloggs Limited via:


SMS – tick box            Email – tick box          Post – tick  box


No I would not like receive any updates – tick box


The customer is clearly able to select their preference on the communication method and select either yes or no to give their consent. One of the key principles of GDPR is to protect the data privacy rights of individuals.  By clearlyand freely asking for consent it demonstrates that your business is upholding the rights of the individual and this creates trust between the business and those who interact with the business.


The request for consent must be specific so that the person giving their consent is very clear on why they are handing over their personal data. Using the example above it details exactly what the customer is signing up for. However, if Joe Bloggs Limited wanted to contact its customers for another reason, they would need to get additional consent for that. It is helpful to determine all the reasons why you want to contact your customers and list them when obtaining consent in the first instance as it saves you going back to them in the future.


In order for the consent to be informed, the above example lets the data subject know exactly what they are signing up for, the name of the company who they are signing to and they can choose their preferred method of communication if they choose the yes option.


Finally the above example is unambiguous because it gives the data subject the option to select yes or no in an affirmative answer even when they select the no option. If you choose to use consent as your legal basis be aware that the data subject can revoke their consent at any time and ask for their data, including any back ups, to be erased. Before looking into obtaining consent, it may be better for your organisation to rely on a different legal basis to process data.


Next week we will look at the six lawful reasons to obtain and process data. In the meantime you can avail of the GDPR toolkit to conduct your GDPR audit from the SFA website.


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 HR and Employment Law advice section on www.sfa.ie


A response to an ageing workforce – Code of Practice on Longer Working is published

With life expectancy in Ireland now at an all-time high, people living healthier and longer lives and the statutory retirement age being extended in 2021 and again in 2028, there is a growing demand to facilitate an ageing workforce.

In December 2017, a Code of Practice on Longer Working (S.I 600 of 2017) was published. This was developed in response to the rising number of older workers and to facilitate those workers who would like to continue working beyond what is considered the traditional retirement age of 65. Currently the statutory retirement age is 66. This will rise to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028 and many workers will want to continue their employment for a variety of reasons, one of which may be that they cannot afford to retire until they are eligible for the state pension.


Employers need to be mindful that they cannot discriminate on the grounds of age so informing an employee that they are being retired solely on their age could be seen as age discrimination. However, employers do need to balance the needs of the business, the safety of the work environment and their succession planning so how do they strike a balance?


The Code of Practice on Longer Working was developed as a best practise tool to address these issues using the following:


• Using the skills and experience of older workers

• Objective justification of retirement

• Standard retirement arrangements

• Requests to work longer


Using the skills and experience of older workers

The code encourages employers to develop age friendly work policies and create a culture that embraces employees of all ages. To help achieve this the code suggests that employers and/or management should avail of training on diversity in the workplace that includes age, exploring flexible working patterns, proof policies and procedures for age bias and create a work culture that appreciates the continuing need for relevant training and development for all age groups.


Objective justification

This section reminds businesses that there is no statutory retirement age in the private sector, that the retirement age within the private sector is set via one of the following:

  • An express term in the employee’s contract of employment;
  • An implied term in the employee’s contract of employment;
  • Relevant policies, for example a staff handbook; and
  • Custom and practice generally arising from the pension date set out in the relevant occupational pension scheme

Under the Employment Equality Acts it is prohibited to discriminate on nine grounds which includes age. The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions Act) 2015 which came into effect on 1 January 2016, made a number of amendments to the Equality Act.  This means that compulsory retirement ages set by employers must be capable of objective justification both by the existence of a legitimate aim and evidence that the means of achieving that aim is both appropriate and necessary.


The code sets out examples of a legitimate aim which includes:

• Intergenerational fairness (allowing younger workers to progress)

• Motivation and dynamism through the increased prospect of promotion

• Health and safety (generally in more safety critical occupations)

• Creation of a balanced age structure in the workforce

• Personal and professional dignity (avoiding capability issues with older employees)

• Succession planning.


What is essential in using one or more of the above legitimate aims is that the business can show documentary evidence that it uses and avails of one or more of the above legitimate aims for retiring its employees.


Standard retirement arrangements

This section of the code gives best practice recommendations on workplace planning for longer working. It is fine and appropriate for employers to prepare for retirement including asking if they would like to retire especially if there is no contractual retirement date in place. The code lists the types of supports and guidance that employers can offer to their employees in preparation for retirement such as the introduction of flexible working arrangements or pre-retirement courses. The aim of these steps is to help older employees make the transition into retirement.


The code concludes by giving guidance to employers on how they can best manage the retirement process with their employees and manage employee requests to work longer in the workplace beyond their contracted retirement age. It does this through a series of questions for the employee and employer as well as setting out a best practice procedure for these requests.


In the coming weeks SFA will provide a sample longer worker procedure document for its members to use as a template but in the meantime you can download the Code of Practice for Longer Working here.


If you would like more information on longer working practices or equality in general, 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


ESRI: Development of second-tier cities key to sustainable economic growth

A new report from the ESRI recommends that government policies should aim to rebalance growth by encouraging regional development led by a small number of large urban centres outside Dublin. The research finds that the most positive outcomes would result from a scenario in which growth is split equally between the East and Midland region and the rest of the country.

A new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) recommends that government policies should aim to rebalance growth by encouraging regional development led by a small number of large urban centres outside Dublin.


If the current pattern of growth continues, it will lead to a further gap in prosperity between Dublin and the rest of the country, the report finds. In Dublin, it will lead to additional housing demand and increased long-distance commuting.


The research provides projections for regions and counties across Ireland up to the year 2040, examining what will happen if current spatial planning patterns continue, and what would happen in a range of alternative scenarios.


These projections set the context for regional and local development policy including the forthcoming National Planning Framework (NPF) and the Regional Spatial and Economic strategies.


Developing second-tier cities

The research finds that the most positive outcomes would result from a scenario in which growth is split equally between the East and Midland region and the rest of the country. This would relieve pressure in the Dublin region, while still allowing significant growth.


Scaling up second-tier cities would provide a greater range of functions in surrounding areas. To achieve this, it is necessary to develop within the cities the necessary infrastructure, such as water and wastewater infrastructure, urban public transport, schools etc. It is essential that affordable housing and other amenities are provided in cities in order to attract people to live there and to avoid further sprawl. The increased scale of the second-tier cities would allow them and their wider hinterland to generate more start-up firms and attract more FDI.


The author of the report, Edgar Morgenroth, commented: “When economic activity is concentrated in one centre, national economic performance is reduced. The lack of scale of the second-tier cities in Ireland reinforces the dominance of Dublin and limits the development potential of the other regions. Investing in second-tier cities is essential to ensure sustainable economic growth outside of Dublin.”


The full report is available from the ESRI here.



Share your news in the SFA Better Business magazine

Calling all aspiring journalists, SFA are looking for Big News for Small Business for the next edition of the Better Business magazine.  

Here at SFA, we are excited for the next edition of our award nominated Better Business magazine, due the 3rd week in March.  


SFA members can feature their business in the spring edition for free by submitting a relevant news item (max 250 words) for consideration to linda.barry@sfa.ie by 22 February.


You can view the digital edition of the winter magazine here which includes a feature on Irelands coffee industry, things to consider when moving premises, a look at three small firms who are putting their customer first, couple entrepreneurs balancing work and home and much more. Also check out the new Better Business website here and follow Better Business on Twitter here.  


To take advantage of a special discounted member rate for advertising, contact Shane Kelly from the Ashville Media Group directly on 01 432 2234 or shane.kelly@ashvillemediagroup.com.

Details of Government’s Brexit Loan Scheme begin to emerge

The Government last week announced more details of the Brexit Loan Scheme announced in Budget 2018. Totalling €300 million, the scheme will be open to companies with up to 499 employees and has the potential to benefit over 5,000 companies. It will be delivered by the SBCI through commercial lenders.

The Brexit Loan Scheme, announced by Minister Paschal Donohoe in Budget 2018, is one step closer to being available to businesses following the signing of a formal agreement between the Government, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).


The Brexit Loan Scheme will total €300 million, which includes a €23 million contribution from the State. It is aimed at companies that are exposed to the impacts of Brexit, or will be in the future. 


At the signing of the agreement, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys said: “It’s time for Irish businesses to start planning and preparing for Brexit. The Brexit Loan Scheme will provide financing support at lower interest rates and with lower collateral requirements. I encourage businesses to use this financing to help improve their operational competitiveness, to innovate or to diversify their trade footprint as they prepare to face Brexit over the next year and beyond.”


Features of the Brexit Loan Scheme:

  • Available from March 2018
  • Loans can be used for working capital or to fund innovation, change or adaptation to mitigate the impact of Brexit
  • 40% of the fund is ring fenced for food businesses
  • Loan amount: €25,000 - €1,500,000
  • Loan term: up to three years
  • Loans less than €500,000 will be unsecured
  • Interest rate: 4% or less

The full statement from last week’s signing event is available here.


The SFA will keep members updated once the application method is announced and the fund is open.


If you would like to discuss access to finance, access to government supports or the impact of Brexit on your business, contact Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, on linda.barry@sfa.ie or 01 605 1626.

SFA Business Connect **last chance to book**
  • 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. 

Prepare for success – Essential advice for new and micro businesses
  • 07 February, Wood Quay Venue

Date: 07 February 2018
Time: 17:30-19:30
Venue: Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8


The SFA Business Bytes events, which are entirely free of charge, offer small businesses access to expert information and advice and an opportunity to network with their peers. The series is supported by Bord Gáis Energy.

  • Have you recently started a business?
  • Or have you been working alone/in a very small operation and are now thinking about expanding?

There is a lot to consider in this phase of your business. Make the right decisions now and you will have a solid foundation for future success.

This seminar is aimed at those involved in start-ups and businesses in their first three years, as well as anyone involved in a micro-enterprise (less than 10 employees) who is turning their mind to expansion. The SFA is bringing together a range of experts who can support you and your business to achieve your potential.

Training, mentoring and financial supports: Steven O’Gara, Senior Economic Development Officer for Dublin City Council, will outline what the Local Enterprise Offices around the country can offer to new and micro-enterprises, spotlighting both financial and non-financial supports.

Business loans: Deirdre Parkinson, Head of Marketing with Microfinance Ireland, will give participants a rundown of finance options for small business. She will highlight the Microfinance Ireland offering, which is available to businesses that may have difficulty accessing traditional bank finance.

Getting online: SMEs with a website pick up 22 additional jobs or sales per year on average, with a total value of €24,000. IE Domain Registry, the organisation that manages the dot ie namespace, will help you to understand what an effective online presence could add to your business and how to achieve it. 

Flexing your strengths: Business psychologist Jane Perry of C Zone Coaching will focus on one of the most important elements of long term success – you, the owner-manager. She will guide you through the skills and strengths you need for this crucial phase of your business.

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

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

Training course: How are you selling to today's customers?
  • Cost: €395
  • Dates: 20 and 27 February, 6 March 
  • Time: 9.30am – 4pm
  • Venue: Gateway Business Centre, Carlow


Carlow Kilkenny Skillnet are delighted to announce a new three-day practical sales and business development workshop designed for SME’s which focuses on achieving results.

Investment: €395
Dates: 20 and 27 February, 6 March 
Time: 9.30am – 4pm
Venue: Gateway Business Centre, Carlow

To Book: Email admin@cktraining.ie or phone Theresa in Carlow Kilkenny Office directly on 059 9132152, or contact the trainer Jo directly M: 087 2730463 email : jo@salesperformance.ie www.salesperformance.ie

Did You know that 70% of the buyer journey is complete before they contact you?

The Sales Process has changed, and your sales strategy needs to reflect that change.

Some key questions for your business in 2018:
1. What sales activities are you measuring to achieve your target in 2018?
2. What is the value in your pipeline for Q1?
3. What is your sales plans for:
  • Customer Retention
  • New Business Development
  • Growth from existing customers

The benefits of attending from local business man :

Mike Hayden of Tax Pro
‘’We were delighted with the training we received from Jo at Sales Performance and the difference it has made to our approach with new prospective clients. We would highly recommend this training for any business looking to increase sales numbers and prospect conversion’’.

This is an intimate workshop featuring plenty of group interaction. The course takes place 1 day over a 3-week period allowing you to immerse yourself in the process, and implement what you have learned.

What you will discover for your Business:

Develop your Unique Selling Point; Identify what makes you stand out from the crowd and use it to your advantage

Building Customer Loyalty: Discover how customer service ensures repeat business and learn some techniques to help with that process

Successful Selling Techniques: Examine the steps that will help convert business, from asking the right questions, objection handling and closing techniques. All designed to convert sales to long term customers

Sales growth strategies: Develop a sales plan that targets all areas of your business 

Presenting for Optimal sales results: Presentation skills that give you confidence while keeping your audience engaged.

On the final day of this course, you get to present your business using all the skills that have been discussed. You will receive feedback from myself and the other course participants. Previous attendees have found this to be very valuable, as you get lots of feedback and suggestions on your business, ensuring an immediate ROI for your business. 

Safety Awareness for Managers and First Aid Response courses now available for SFA members

In 2018, SFA is offering a range of health & safety courses for small business, in addition to our regular management development programmes. In March, we have two important courses available: a one-day First Aid Response course and a one-day Safety Awareness for Managers course.

First Aid Response


Do you have a staff member who is equipped with the basic skills to deal with a medical emergency before the arrival of medical assistance?

If not, this course is ideal so that there is someone on site with training in CPR (adult and child), using a defibrillator, bleeding control, head injuries and choking.


Date: 9 March, 8:30am-3:30pm

Venue: Ibec, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street

Cost: SFA member rate €220


Register here.


Safety Awareness for Managers


This course provides managers with a practical toolkit for integrating their health and safety responsibilities with operational management. It includes skills for risk assessment, communication and accident investigation.  


Date: 27 March, 8:30am-3:30pm

Venue: Ibec, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street

Cost: SFA member rate €220


Register here.


These courses are part of the SFA’s 2018 training programme, ‘Training that counts’. Book your place for a variety of courses now at www.sfa.ie/events or find out more about customised training and other options here.