SFA E-zine - The Wednesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine.


With Budget 2020 taking centre stage this week with implications for employers and small businesses we take you through some of the key changes, new measures and supports coming your way. 


The level of Financial Literacy and the importance of financial planning for micro, small and medium sized businesses is at the heart of our latest research that we conducted together with our partners in TU Dublin, Microfinance Ireland, Skillnet and the SBCI.


In this week's newsletter we also highlight the importance of complying with the National Minimum Wage Act when employing interns, we look at the potential customs implications of Brexit and SFA Skillnet is organising an interesting briefing series with Brett Bruen, Barack Obama's former foreign policy adviser - well worth attending!


As part of our diversity series we are holding a webinar on age diversity on 23 October. Our Employment Law seminar in Dublin is fast approaching so don't miss out and register today. And finally, bookings are still open for the SFA Annual Lunch on 15 November 2019 with keynote speaker David Meade. 


Just a reminder that the 2019/2020 SFA Awards programme will close for applications on 18 October. You can apply either yourself or you can nominate a small business that you believe will be a worthy winner of Ireland's next ‘Best Small Business Awards’. The SFA Awards are open to all small businesses whether you are a member or non-member. Check out what category suits your business best.


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
  • Financial Literacy Report
  • Employment Law Seminar, Limerick
  • Brexit
  • Tax Policy
  • Budget 2020


The SFA featured in the following publications.


Financial Literacy Report

The launch of the SFA Financial Literacy report was announced via press release on 26 September. This was covered in the Irish Independent, RTE.ie and Morning Ireland business bulletin on 26 September. Irish Examiner on 4 October. Fingal Independent on 8 October.


Employment Law Seminar, Limerick

The SFA Employment Law Seminar, Limerick was covered in the Irish Times on 30 September.



SFA National Council Member, Adeola Ogunsina took part in RTE’s Primetime Brexit Special on 1 October.


Tax Policy

Ahead of Budget 2020 SFA released an updated version of ‘A Supportive Tax Environment for Small Firms’. This was covered in the Law Society Gazette on 4 October and the Leinster Express on 8 October.


Budget 2020

SFA Budget 2020 asks were referred to in Extra.ie on 6 October.

SFA response to Budget 2020 was announced via press release on 8 October. This was covered in the Irish Times, RTE, Irish Examiner, Fora and Irish Daily Mail on 9 October.




Budget 2020

Budget 2020 has several implications for employers and in this article we take you through the key measures for introduction in 2019/2020..

Budget 2020 has several implications for employers and in this article, we take you through the key measures for introduction in 2019/2020.


  • Measures to support Enterprise/SMEs:

An increase in the Earned Income Credit from €1,350 to €1,500

The annual investment limit for the Employment and Investment Incentive will be increased to €250,000.

An annual investment limit of €500,000 will be introduced for investors who are prepared to invest in the EII for ten years or more.
Research and Development tax credit would be increased from 25% to 30% for micro and small companies.
Special Assignee Relief Programme and the Foreign Earnings Deduction extended until the end of 2022.


  • Brexit

A Brexit package of €1.2 billion was been announced. In the event of a 'no-deal' the following measures will be deployed:
€220 million will be deployed immediately.
€650 million for agriculture, enterprise and tourism sectors to assist the regions and populations most affected.
€85 million for beef farmers and €6 million for other livestock farmers and the mushroom sectors.
€14 million for the fishing industry
€365 million for extra social protection expenditure benefit
€45million to assist people to transition to new work.


  • Climate change

The carbon tax has been increased by €6 to €26 per tonne and applied from midnight 9 October on auto fuels.

Other carbon tax changes to other fuels will come into effect in May 2020.
The 1 per cent diesel surcharge introduced last year will be replaced with a nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions-based charge on a €/mg/km basis. The rate will increase in line with the level of nitrogen oxide emitted. It will apply to all passenger cars registering for the first time in the State from January 1st.
VRT relief for hybrid vehicles and benefit-in-kind zero rate on electric vehicles extended to 2020.
€8 million allocated to maintain grants for those buying electric cars.

  • Business

Commercial stamp duty increases by 1.5 per cent to 7 per cent from midnight tonight.


View here to see the SFA's response to Budget 2020. Additional information can be found at Budget 2020.


If you have any questions on Budget 2020 please contact Elizabeth Bowen, SFA Senior Executive. 

Financial Literacy – new SFA report

In collaboration with TU Dublin, Microfinance Ireland, SBCI and Skillnet Ireland, the SFA recently launched a report on the ‘Financial literacy amongst Irish micro, small and medium-sized businesses’...

The SFA recently launched the ‘Financial literacy amongst Irish micro, small and medium-sized businesses’ report, in collaboration with TU Dublin, Microfinance Ireland, SBCI and Skillnet Ireland. The survey was conducted by iReach.


The main findings of our survey include the following:

  • 81% of respondents said financial literacy was very or extremely important, but only 46% said they had good or expert knowledge of financial literacy. Respondents thought that only 19% of other Irish business owners had good knowledge;
  • 51% of business owners do not read their monthly accounts on a monthly basis;
  • About a quarter of respondents do not produce important financial reports like debtor/creditor lists and sales and expenditure reports, while 16% of respondents do not use monthly reports;
  • 34% said that they use financial statements to make business decisions and 42% said that they do not understand financial statements;
  • 58% said they do not utilise financial statements as they believe that is the job of their accountant;
  • The level of expertise was greater as the size of the business increased;
  • 80% of respondents said that the primary use of monthly financial statements was to inform their banks;
  • Respondents believed that 0% of Irish business managers generally had expert financial literacy, while 11% rated themselves as having expert knowledge (these had either majored in finance in college or were fully qualified accountants);
  • 35% of respondents with low to moderate expertise had received no financial training; and
  • Over half of respondents do not calculate basic financial measurements regularly, including Gross Margin Per Product.


In order to address the challenges highlighted in the report the following actions need to be taken:

  • Ensure that the development of financial literacy amongst owner-managers in SMEs is a priority for government by including it in the forthcoming policy on SMEs and Entrepreneurship under Future Jobs Ireland;
  • Develop financial literacy in our young people by exploring the primary and secondary school curricula to see where financial literacy could be included in a more meaningful way;
  • Develop a blended learning financial literacy programme aimed specifically at SMEs to support a higher level of financial literacy expertise;
  • Create a digital platform and campaign to increase financial literacy expertise among small business owners; and
  • Raise awareness amongst education and training providers and professional bodies on the importance of integrating financial literacy within existing training and professional development courses targeting SMEs.

 An electronic version of the publication can be downloaded here.

Internships – making sure businesses comply with the National Minimum Wage Act

Where an intern carries out actual work as part of their training or internship, they must be paid in line with the National Minimum Wage Act. Read on to learn more about this…

The Workplace Relations Commission have a section on their website which refers to unpaid work to cover the issue of internships or work placementsAny person who is carrying out actual work must be paid in line with the National Minimum Wage Act. The only time an unpaid internship would apply is in the case where the person is shadowing the person they are learning from. They would not be carrying out any work tasks. 


If the intern is carrying out work tasks, the National Minimum Wage rates which they must receive according to their age is as follows:  

  • For all staff aged 20 and over they are entitled to €9.80 an hour; 
  • For staff aged 19, they receive €8.82 an hour, which is 90% of the minimum wage rate; 
  • For staff aged 18, they receive €7.84 an hour, which is 80% of the minimum wage rate; 
  • For all staff under 18, they receive €6.86 an hour, which is 70% of the minimum wage rate. 
From March 2019, the previous trainee rates were removed and the above rates apply now except for family members or those on a registered industrial apprenticeship.  


The Workplace Relations Commission advise that any business that fails to comply with this could incur a summary conviction or a fine up to €2,500 and/or imprisonment up to 6 months. This is one of their key focus areas when they carry out a workplace inspection.  


For those on a paid internship, businesses may wish to use a temporary fixed term contract or a written agreement setting out the terms of the paid internship. In addition to the right to pay in line with the National Minimum Wage Act, the intern retains all of their employment rights such as:  

  • Annual leave and public holiday entitlements. This would be pro-rated if they work part time. 
  • Health and safety – this also includes those who are shadowing or carrying out volunteer work. 
  • Rest breaks in line with the Organisation of Working Time Act.
  • A written statement of terms of employment to be received within 2 months, however, they must receive the core terms within 5 days of commencing, so it may be worthwhile including all the items in the statement on day 1 when they commence the internship. 
  • A copy of the disciplinary policy within one month of commencing the internship. 

It is good practice to give all interns and those in unpaid training access to the company handbook (where appropriate) but at a minimum they should receive the grievance policy, bullying and harassment and other essential policies that would impact them. It can also be really helpful to have a dedicated mentor or buddy system so they have someone they can talk to about their training or other issues with the internship programme. 


Finally, for transparency and clarity it is good practice to give the intern a structured internship training programme so it is clear they know what to expect in terms of training and experience so that they can have a positive experience during the internship. It is always worth bearing in mind that today’s intern will be a future advocate for your company 


For more details on internships please contact Helen at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or on 01 605 1668 


The potential customs implications of Brexit

Advice to members on the potential customs implications of Brexit...

The SFA advises members to inform themselves of all customs and excise requirements that may arise for imports/exports between Ireland and the UK (incl. NI)Members are reminded that if there is a no-deal Brexit then Ireland and the UK (incl. NI) will, from Day 1, be treated by each other as third countries when it comes to trade. This will lead to a significant increase in custom arrangements and declarations. 


Members importing or exporting goods from outside the EU should consult Revenue guidanceIf you import or export goods from outside the EU, you or your agent must complete a customs declaration. This customs declaration must be made electronically using Revenue’s Automated Entry Processing (AEP) system. Members are advised to decide who will be responsible for the customs declaration, either the company or an external customs agent. Some goods are prohibited, and some are subject to conditions or may require a licence. See information on prohibitions and restrictions.  


If you are trading in goods to or from the UK, an Economic Operators Registration Identification (EORI) is required to be entered on a customs declaration. To register for an EORI number go to the Revenue Online Service. 


If you import or export goods into or out of the EU, you must classify those goods for customs purposes. Every product has a specific code. This classification code determines the amount of Customs Duty you will pay on imported goods. You can use TARIC to classify your goods to the appropriate code that you will need to import or export your goods. 


At this stage, members should also determine whether they have to comply with UK customs requirements. Members can also consult GOV.UK guidance on the UK leaving the EU with ‘no deal’.  


An Online Customs Insights course is also available to help businesses understand the key customs concepts, documentation and processes required to succeed in a post Brexit world.  


If you have a specific query in relation to Brexit and customs matters, please email brexitqueries@revenue.ie with the relevant details. 


Supported by Getting Ireland Brexit Ready, a Clear Customs free training initiative will be delivered through Skillnet Ireland at several training locations nationwide.  


Members can also attend the Preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit: trade and customs seminar on Friday, 11 October 2019 at 9.00 – 11.00 am at SFA HQ, 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2 


Please contact Elizabeth Bowen, Senior Executive at elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie or 01 605 1626 with any queries you may have on Brexit.   

SFA Skillnet

An update on upcoming courses and our briefing series with Barack Obama's foreign policy advisor on risk management...


We have an exciting day coming up in Blanchardstown on 16 October with keynote speaker Brett Bruen, former Director of Global Engagement at the Obama White House and an American diplomat, participating in a FREE breakfast briefing with other entrepreneurs and industry speakers on How to Manage your Business in Challenging Times, followed by a one day training programme with Brett on Risk Management and Counter-crisis Management (€129 for SFA members).


Brett Bruen is former Director of Global Engagement at the Obama White House and an American diplomat. He is a specialist in using strategic communications to influence the course of crisis and change. His crisis management strategies were successfully used to counter Russian and extremist propaganda. He now advises companies and organisations on developing more effective risk and crisis management strategies.  Brett teaches on the subject at Georgetown University and serves on boards at Harvard and University College Dublin.  As a Contributing Columnist at Business Insider and regular commentator in major media outlets, his ideas help shape the global debate.


Breakfast Briefing: SFA Skillnet Manage your Business in Challenging Times

Date: 16th October 2019

Time: 8:00am-9:30am

Location: Bank of Ireland Workbench, Ballycoolin, Blanchardstown

Address: Block 1, Blanchardstown Corporate Park, Ballycoolin, Dublin 15, D15 AKK1

To register for this free event click here 


Training: SFA Skillnet Risk Management and Counter-crisis Management

Date: 16th October 2019

Time: 10:00am-4:30pm

Location: Bank of Ireland Workbench, Ballycoolin, Blanchardstown

Address: Block 1, Blanchardstown Corporate Park, Ballycoolin, Dublin 15, D15 AKK1

Course Cost: €129 for SFA Members

For full details on the course and booking details click here


NEW Online Courses

We are also launching our new online training programme. It is being delivered in partnership with Maybe International and its founder Brian F. Smyth. Brian has over 20 years of experience helping organisations in different parts of the world to achieve new levels of performance, success and overall well-being. The online programme is competitively priced – SFA member rate €65 – and can be accessed here.


Planning for Growth

You’ll find information on our other courses for business here: SFA Skillnet Courses. Of particular note see our Customer Service course on 17 October and our management courses, Management and Leadership Skills starting on 23 October and Essential People Management Skills starting on 31 October.

SFA Employment Law Seminar
  • Dublin - 17 October

Navigating the maze of employment law


The rise and complexity in the Irish employment law landscape is increasing year on year. This is particularly challenging for small business owners who are time poor and wear multiple hats within their company. So how can small businesses navigate the maze of employment law and be confident that they are complying with their obligations to their staff? The SFA employment law seminar is the solution.


In 2018 and 2019 there has been a raft of employment law from changes to contracts, the introduction of banded hours and increases in parental leave. The SFA employment law seminar will take you through the recent changes within contracts, how to determine the status of a genuine self-employed person and the proposed changes in parental leave.


We will also cover bullying and harassment, work related stress case, as well as the dos and don’ts of disciplinaries and dismissals.


The one day seminar takes place on 17 October in the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge. Tickets costs €210 +VAT for SFA members and €295 +VAT for non-members. 





  • Practical examples in action
  • Self-employment

Bullying and Harassment 

  • Table top exercise in a bullying case
  • One or two case law

Work related stress


OHS/Long working hours panel

  • Key learnings
  • Top things recognised

Family Leave

  • Parental Leave- Increased parental leave
  • Benefit Act

Discipline and Dismissal (Do/Don'ts)

  • Case studies- Practical
  • Role play

Book your place at the seminar today

SFA diversity series - a focus on age diversity - webinar
  • 23 October 

SFA will be hosting a 30 minute webinar on age diversity on 23 October. With up to five generations working along side each other and more employees looking to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age, misunderstandings may arise amongst the generations. This is where diversity and inclusion can help businesses manage a multi-generational workforce in a proactive way.


This webinar will explore how small businesses can embrace age diversity as well as provide practical ways to help their employees thrive and maximise the opportunities that age diversity can offer.


The webinar is a free event for SFA members and is part of the SFA diversity series, so why not make age diversity your agenda for 2020, register your place today and join us at 11am on 23 October.

SFA Annual Lunch 2019
  • 15 November

The SFA Annual Lunch will take place this year on Friday, 15 November 2019 in The Round Room at The Mansion House, Dublin.

We are delighted to announce that we will be joined by motivational speaker and mentalist, David Meade. David is a world-class international corporate speaker, performer and TV personality with a renowned reputation for helping organisations work more effectively. His mindreading, and mentalist skills impress and baffle worldwide audiences making his entertainment and keynotes hard to forget. 

The SFA Annual Lunch is the primary social event for small business in Ireland and an excellent opportunity for you, your colleagues, clients and guests to come together and network in a relaxed environment. Sponsored by Bank of Ireland, it promises to be a great afternoon.

Individual places for members are €85 plus VAT, and €150 for non-members plus VAT. Book here for an individual place or a table of ten.

For any further questions, please contact Blánaid, blanaid.moore-leonard@ibec.ie