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 is about a new system in place that will allow asylum seekers to work in Ireland as the wait to see if they qualify for international protection.


SFA Assistant Director Linda Barry participated in the National Economic Dialogue last week, bringing to the fore the issues facing our members and the need for a small business strategy from government. You can read the full article to see what she said and contact her at linda.barry@sfa.ie to give her your feedback.  


Springboard+ is subsidising up to 90% off the cost of higher education courses for employees. If you want to take advantage of this programme we have all the details here.


As 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 Geo Directory.


Pension policy discussions are heating up and the SFA participated in a conference last week. For more information about this conference, you can read the full article.


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 budget 2019 submission
  • Budget submission
  • National Economic Dialogue

At the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin Castle today, Wednesday 27 June, the Small Firms Association (SFA) Assistant Director Linda Barry called on Government to shift its focus from multinationals to small, indigenous businesses in Budget 2019. "We need a national Small Business Strategy, placing a clear focus on the 98% of businesses employing half the private sector workforce". Read the full press release here


There is additional coverage in the BusinessWorld, Irish Examiner, RTE, Newstalk, RTE Six One News, Today FM News, and Evening Echo (Cork). 


For further comment or interview, contact Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director at linda.barry@sfa.ie.

New regime in place that enables asylum seekers to work in Ireland

The Department of Justice and Equality launched a new regime that allows asylum seekers to access the Irish employment market. Read on to see what employers should know when hiring someone on a Labour Market Access permission letter….

Last week the Department of Justice and Equality introduced the option for asylum seekers to seek employment or self-employment opportunities in Ireland. Prior to February 2018, asylum seekers were prohibited from working or being self-employed in Ireland. When this was challenged, Ireland opted into the EU(recast) Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU). The Department of Justice set up an interim measure in February 2018 that allowed asylum seekers to be self-employed or they could access the employment permit system operated by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.


The new measures mean that, as of 29 June, asylum seekers who are waiting to see if they qualify for international protection (known as a first instance recommendation) can now apply for a Labour Market Access permission letter from the Department of Justice and Equality. They do not have to access the employment permit system which means that they do not have to receive a minimum remuneration of €30,000 per year in line with the General Employment permit.  


Asylum seekers can apply for any job except for the Defence Forces, An Garda Siochana, the Civil or Public Service. To qualify for the Labour Market Access permission letter they must be waiting for a first instance recommendation on their protection application for nine months or more.


So what does this mean for employers?


It means that approximately 3,000 new workers may be available to work in businesses without the additional restrictions from the employment permit process. This is welcome news for small businesses who are currently struggling to fill vacancies. It allows asylum seekers to either enhance their current skill set or gain new skills whilst becoming more integrated within Irish society.


What must employers ensure?


Employers must ensure that the person holds a valid, in-date Labour Market Access permission letter before hiring the applicant. The official permission will contain the following security features:

  • A colour photograph
  • It is double-sided on watermarked paper
  • It will contain a unique permission number
  • It is signed on both sides by the officer who approved the permission
  • It will clearly show the validity date


Once an employer successfully hires an employee with a valid permission letter, they must inform the Minister for Justice and Equality within 21 days from the date the applicant has been employed and they must notify the Minister again within 21 days of the employment ceasing.


Employers will be required to retain the following information if they employ someone with a Labour Market Access permission letter:


  • A record of the employee concerned
  • The duration of the employment
  • The particulars of the labour market permission
  • Details of the remuneration paid to the applicant. This must be held for a period of three years


If an employer receives a notification that the Labour Market Access permission letter has been withdrawn, the above records must be retained for a period of six months from the receipt of that notification. If the employer receives a request for further information from the Department of Justice and Equality, they must provide that information within 10 days of receiving that request.


In line with other employment permits, the 50-50 rule still applies. What this means is that the mixture of Irish and/or EU nationals must make up at least 50% or more of the workforce. Businesses may be required to provide records to the Department of Justice and Equality on the number of Irish/EU nationals and non-EEA nationals that hold an employment permit or a Labour Market Access permission letter. Businesses that do not comply with this requirement could risk a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.


How long will the labour market access permission last for?


It will be renewed every six months for as long as the asylum seeking is awaiting a final decision on their protection application. It should be noted that if a person’s application for asylum protection is denied in the final decision from the Department of Justice and Equality they are no longer legible to remain in employment or in Ireland. You can find out more on at www.inis.gov.ie/


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..........

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

Geo Directory.  Backed by An Post and OSi Geo Directory are delighted to offer a 25% discount off their AddressFix product. AddressFix is easy, secure, accurate and cost-effective to clean up your customer address list.


With AddressFix you will:

  • Develop tailored marketing campaigns
  • Identify and target new areas of growth and revenue
  • Reduce the level of undeliverable mail
  • Have GDPR compliant addresses
  • Find your customers’ premises first time every time
  • Separate your customers using social demographics and business classifications
  • Add Eircodes to your database

Simply click here to avail of this great offer.


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

Capital gains tax is a recurring theme at National Economic Dialogue

Last week, social and economic stakeholders, including SFA, set out their priorities for Budget 2019 to Ministers at the National Economic Dialogue. There was a notable momentum around lowering capital gains tax, which was raised by a number of stakeholder groups.  

On 27 and 28 June, the National Economic Dialogue (NED) 2018 took place in Dublin Castle. The NED, now in its fourth year, brings together representatives of community, voluntary and environmental groups as well as members of the Oireachtas, business, unions and research institutes.


The official objective of the NED is to “facilitate an open and inclusive exchange on the competing economic and social priorities facing the Government”. In reality, it is an opportunity for stakeholder groups to voice their main asks for the upcoming Budget, as one-to-one meetings with the Minister for Finance in advance of Budget Day have largely been dispensed with in recent years.


Day one included a plenary session, at which Linda Barry outlined the SFA’s call for a national Small Business Strategy, the importance of avoiding any additional costs for small business in Budget 2019 and the need to address tax anomalies such as Ireland’s high CGT.


Linda Barry and SFA Chair, Sue O’Neill, participated in at two of the afternoon breakout sessions, voicing the needs and concerns of small businesses. The sessions were:

  • Reforms for sustainable productivity growth, chaired by Minister Heather Humphreys
  • Challenges for State pension funding into the future, chaired by Minister Regina Doherty

On day two, the reports from each breakout session was summarised in the plenary session and Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, delivered the closing remarks of the NED. In these remarks, he specifically mentioned the need to rebalance the economy by supporting indigenous firms as one of his key takeaways.

From an SFA perspective, CGT was a notable recurring theme over the two days. It was raised not only by the SFA, but also by Ibec, the Irish Taxation Institute, the Chair of the National Competitiveness Council and others. Over the coming months, we will be active in highlighting this to Ministers, insisting that October’s Budget tackle the punitive CGT rate of 33% and the inadequate limit on Entrepreneur’s Relief. 

To share your views or discuss CGT, the NED or the upcoming Budget, contact Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, on 01 605 1626 or linda.barry@sfa.ie.

90% subsidised higher education courses for upskilling employees

Spotlight on Springboard+, which allows you to upskill your staff to masters level with minimal cost as courses are 90% subsidised. 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.



Free and 90% subsidised college courses at certificate, degree and masters level in areas where industry has identified skills needs. There are over 8,000 places available on over 245 courses around the country.


For the first time in 2018, Springboard+ is open to those in employment. Lots of Springboard+ courses offer distance, online and blended learning options, and are run on a part-time basis.


Courses will be free for employed people on NFQ Level 6 courses. For employed participants on courses NFQ level 7-9, 90% of the course fee will be funded, with participants required to contribute 10% of the fee.



The speed of development of new technologies will inevitably affect the future workplace and there will be no escaping these changes. What is new and innovative today will be outdated in no time. It will be vital for employees to continue to upskill and reskill to keep up to date with the latest technologies.


Ireland’s lifelong learning rate is almost half the EU average, so Springboard+ is one of a range of initiatives to encourage those in work to pursue further education and training. As an employer, promoting lifelong learning, upskilling and career development will assist you to be an employer of choice and retain ambitious employees.



Check out www.springboardcourses.ie to check the eligibility of the applicant and browse the selection of courses. Applications can be made online through the Springboard+ website.



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

  • The scheme is open to people in employment, returners, the unemployed and those formerly self-employed
  • Skills areas covered include: business, law, engineering, ICT, maths, statistics, manufacturing, construction, health and services
  • Applications can be made online for a maximum of 10 courses, but participants can only study one course at a time
  • More information is available on www.springboardcourses.ie, Twitter @SpringboardHEA and Facebook under Springboard Courses
Pension policy discussions heating up

As pension policy discussions heat up, with the likes of auto-enrolment looming, the SFA participated in a conference of pension experts to get the most up to date information on what direction would be best for small businesses.

As pension policy discussions heat up, with the likes of auto-enrolment looming, the SFA went to a conference of pension experts to get the most up to date information on what direction would be best for small businesses.


Maeve Hally and Professor Shane Whelan of UCD presented on an ‘Analysis of the Taxation Supports for Private Pension Provision in Ireland' where they discussed the three tax incentives that exist for pensions: tax relief on contributions, tax relief on investment returns and tax relief when drawing down the pension. The presentation demonstrated the enormous benefit of these reliefs, in particular to earners on the higher rate of income tax but emphasised the disconnect between the value of the reliefs and take up.


Maureen Maloney and Dr. Alma McCarthy of NUIG presented on ‘Keeping it Simple’, discussing how to effectively communicate pension benefits to encourage active investment in pensions. Linda Barry of the SFA questioned how to communicate the benefits of saving to employees. If they perceive automatic deductions as their pay getting smaller, employees may demand that employers compensate them. Effectively communicating the benefits of saving may minimise the exposure to this risk.


Stephen Moore of UCC and Tiago McCarthy of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection presented on their ‘Target Replacement Rate Study’, where they discussed the fundamental goals of pensions – poverty avoidance and earnings replacement – and what it will take to get to that level of pension funding, as well as factors that currently put those near retirement at risk, such as renting instead of owning housing.


Eamon Murphy of Social Justice Ireland discussed ‘Achieving Universal Coverage – options for fairness and sustainability in the Irish Pension System’ where he discussed the benefits of focusing not on private pensions but instead expanding the State pension to be universal as it would cost less and the benefits would be more robust.


A panel of speakers, including Laura Bambrick, ICTU Social Policy Officer; Clare Duffy, Family Carers Policy and Public Affairs Manager; Neil McDonnell, ISME Chief Executive Officer; and a representative of the National Women’s Council, pointed out additional at-risk groups like women whose husbands pensions make them ineligible to receive their own pensions, and carers who cannot reach enough contributions to be eligible for a State pension.


If any of these articles interest you or you would like to read further about any of these subjects, the slides will be made available on www.tcd.ie/business/pprg/


For any additional feedback or questions regarding the conference, please contact Linda Barry at linda.barry@sfa.ie

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
  • Creating a collaborative culture amongst different nationalities

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