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, the first of which, Employment permits – the Labour Market Needs Test, is about how to hire non-EEA nationals to bridge the skill-gap. We are also delighted to have hosted the first GDPR discussion group following a meeting with the Data Protection Commissioner. This meeting is held quarterly, don’t miss the next one! To join the group contact Helen at helen.quinn@sfa.ie.


Irish Water is implementing a new charging system that will harmonise the rates for all business customers. Read the full article and send us your input.  


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 GRID Finance. Remember to reserve your spot for the SFA Affinity webinar taking place this Friday.


The Employee Share Ownership Day event was last week where guest speakers discussed ways to increase employee engagement and retention through the use of share options.


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


Employment permits - The Labour Market Needs Test

This week we look at what companies need to do if they wish to satisfy the Labour Market Needs test when hiring non-EEA nationals under some types of employment permits…

With the Irish economy at almost full employment, there is the growing issue of skill shortages for some roles. Employers are once again looking to hire non-EEA nationals to fill that gap if they cannot find a suitably qualified Irish or EU employee to hire for that role.


For the General Employment Permit or the Contract for Services Employment Permit, employers must satisfy a Labour Market Needs Test prior to either permit type being issued to a non-EEA national.


How does an employer conduct a Labour Market Needs test?


The employer is required to advertise the vacancy with all of the following:

  • The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services/EURES employment network for at least 2 weeks
  • A national newspaper for at least 3 days
  • Either a local newspaper or jobs website (separate to Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection/EURES websites) for 3 days.

Under the Employment Permits Act 2006, the vacancy must include the following information:

  • A description of the employment
  • The name of the employer
  • The minimum annual remuneration
  • The location/s of employment
  • The hours of work


How can an employer advertise the vacancy with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Services and EURES?


The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services network ensures that the vacancy receives national coverage and EURES (European Employment Services) ensures that the vacancy is advertised across the EU.


Employers can either log on to www.jobsireland.ie or www.welfare.ie and select the employer option. They have a number of self-help videos that take you through the steps for advertising vacancies which you can access here.  


Alternatively, employers/contractors can contact Jobs Ireland, National Contact Centre at LoCall 1890 800 024 or tel. 01 248 1398 to register their vacancy by phone.


Once the vacancy is registered, employers will receive a reference number in relation to it.


An application for an employment permit can only be submitted when the Labour Market Needs Test has been completed. If you then apply for an employment permit, it must be submitted within 90 days from the date that the vacancy was on Jobs Ireland/EURES.


Do all applications for General or Contract for Services Employment Permits require a Labour Market Needs Test?


In general, yes. However, there are a few exceptions where the Labour Market Needs Test is not required:

  • Where the job is an occupation included on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List
  • Where the job offer is in respect of an eligible employment with a minimum annual remuneration of €60,000. However, employment permits cannot be issued for any occupations on the Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permit Listed regardless of remuneration rate
  • Where a recommendation from Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland has been made in relation to the job offer (this applies to client companies of Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland only)
  • Where the job offer is for a carer of a person with exceptional medical needs and the non-EEA national has been providing care to the person before the application was made and that person has developed a high level of dependence on that non-EEA national
  • In the case of a General Employment Permit application, where the job is offered to a non-EEA national who held a General Employment Permit or a Work Permit Employment Permit and who, on a date after 1 October 2014, was made redundant and the redundancy occurred within the previous six months. This waiver only applies where the Department has been notified of the redundancy within four weeks of the date of dismissal.

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..........

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

GRID Finance offers a variety of services from term loans, invoice financing, leasing, and business relationship management.


Click here to view this SFA Affinity offer with GRID Finance.


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

Changes proposed by Irish Water for business customer tariffs

Over 500 different water and wastewater tariffs exist for businesses around the country. Irish Water has opened a consultation on proposals to harmonise these tariffs, covering both the future charges and the transition arrangements.

Irish Water has already taken over billing for non-domestic (business) water users. However, to date no changes have been made to the tariffs that Irish Water inherited from the Local Authorities. Over 500 different tariffs exist and this results in business customers paying significantly different charges for the same service. Businesses in Wicklow, Kilkenny and Clare pay the highest charges, while businesses in Kildare, Tralee and Kerry county pay the lowest.


A process is now underway to harmonise these tariffs. Irish Water has drafted proposals for how this should be dealt with, covering both the future tariff structure and the transition arrangements. Under Irish Water’s proposals, it is estimated that bills will increase for 49% of business customers and decrease for the remaining 51%.


A public consultation on these proposals is now open. Businesses are encouraged to make individual submissions before the closing date of 15 August. Input can also be made via the Small Firms Association – please email linda.barry@sfa.ie.


More information about the proposals is available here.


Summary of Irish Water proposals:

  • The proportion of Irish Water’s revenue deriving from businesses would increase from 20% to 24% to reflect the level of service being used by this sector
  • A single national charging policy would be introduced
  • Customers would be split into three categories (standard, commercial and industrial) and charges would reflect the different costs of servicing these groups
  • Charges would consist of a fixed standing charge and a variable use-based volumetric charge
  • The 4% of business customers that are unmetered would pay a flat charge
  • Mixed-use premises (e.g. a shop with a flat above it) would only be charged for usage in excess of their domestic allowance
  • The new tariffs will likely come into effect in Q4 2019. Customers will move to the new tariffs immediately if: a) their annual bill is expected to decrease; or b) their annual bill is expected to increase by less than €250. A transition period will apply for other customers.
GDPR discussion group update

The SFA held its first GDPR discussion group on 21 June and recently met with the Data Protection Commission. Read on to learn more about the discussion group, how to join and the update from the DPC…

The SFA held its first GDPR discussion group on 21 June where a number of small businesses met to hear an update from our recent meeting with the Data Protection Commission (DPC) and to discuss a number of GDPR issues.


At the meeting we covered a number of topics such as:

  • Managing contacts
  • Retention periods in general and for employee files
  • Marketing and customer lists
  • Data breach notifications in the case of multiple EU jurisdictions
  • Data processing contracts
  • The registration process for the DPC
  • When a Data Protection Officer is required
  • Cookie policies


It was a lively discussion with some fantastic contributions from the group. If you would like to be a part of the GDPR discussion group, please e-mail Helen at helen.quinn@sfa.ie as we will host these one-hour meetings four times a year.


At the meeting we gave an update from our recent meeting with Dale Sunderland, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner and other team members of the DPC. They are keen to assist small businesses as they understand the challenges that GDPR poses for this sector. They would welcome your input in terms of any guidelines that you would like to see posted on their website at www.dataprotection.ie or on www.gdprandyou.ie


They currently have guidelines for implementing technical and organisational measures to prevent a breach, Data Protection Officers, data controller to data processers contracts, using cloud-based solutions and so forth which you can download at www.gdprandyou.ie


If you have any suggestions please let Helen know at helen.quinn@sfa.ie. In addition, they would welcome your feedback on the challenges and benefits that you have experienced whilst implementing GDPR and how it is working for you currently. You can feed those comments into Helen by 13 July and we will send your anonymous comments to them.


We have just launched an online GDPR training programme for employees. It is about 30 minutes long and covers the basics of GDPR including what is a data breach, managing data access requests, consent, the principles of GDPR, etc. It has interactive questionnaire session and users receive a certificate of completion at the end. The cost is €70 per licence (per person). You can find out more or book online 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

Employee Share Ownership Day

Speakers at the Employee Share Ownership Day event discussed ways to keep essential employees engaged and loyal through share ownership. With employee retention becoming the biggest obstacle for employers, this strategy is essential for differentiating yourself as an employer.

SFA members attended this year’s Employee Share Ownership Day (ESOD) put together by the Irish Proshare Association, where the benefits of offering employee ownership programmes were discussed. The Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) is an example of one such programme that allows employers to reward key employees by giving them a stake in the company.


According to the speakers at ESOD, the benefits of employee ownership are quite clear. Employees who have a financial stake in the company are more motivated and productive than those who do not. However, the benefits go beyond merely financial incentives. Employees who have a stake in the company they work for also have a sense of intrinsic motivation that goes beyond reward driven. One speaker brought up a story of a postman was supplied with a truck and two polo shirts. Their attitude towards their job was apathetic at best. Speeding through deliveries, neglecting truck maintenance, ditching packages as quick as they could, etc. When the same postman bought their own truck and had an ownership in the company, their entire attitude changed. They cared about the work that they did, they maintained their truck and washed it daily, wore a tie to work every day. They had a sense of pride about the job they were doing.


Share ownership leads to staff retainment and engagement, which is currently one of the most important challenges for small businesses in Ireland. As the economy closes in on full employment, keeping and attracting talent is one of the most important things a company can do. Being an early adopter of share ownership will put your small business leagues ahead of your competitors and help you compete with multinational enterprises.


For more information on KEEP and other employee share ownership programmes please contact Linda and the Small Firms Association at linda.barry@sfa.ie.

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 click 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