SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine. 


In this edition we outline our plan on how we will support members and the wider small business community to meet the challenges and opportunities of transitioning to a low carbon economy and society.  We also take a look at the crucial points any business needs to be aware of when it comes to redundancy


Following input from the SFA, the OECD recently launched its SME and Enterprise Policy in Ireland study. The purpose of this study was to develop a road map to guide policy for SME enterprise and entrepreneurship here in Ireland.


If you would like to feature your business in our next issue of Better Business magazine please let us know before close of business on Tuesday, 26 November. 


Be sure to book on to our webinar partnered with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board to help our members learn more about the personal injuries assessment process on 20 November, and play back the Age Diversity webinar given by SFA Executive Helen Quinn on 23 October.  


The countdown is on for the SFA Annual Lunch on 15 November in The Mansion House. Book your seat today so you don't miss out on our keynote speaker David Meade, and the opportunity to meet with other small businesses in Ireland.  Finally, entries for the SFA National Small Business Awards wrapped up last week and the finalists will be announced at the end of November - keep an eye out for your local small business!  We also provide a summary of our recent press coverage.  

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
  • OECD Report
  • Paternal Leave


The SFA featured in the following publications.


OECD Report

A press release was issued on the road map regarding a national growth strategy for SMEs that was covered on RTE and Business World on 31 October and in the Irish Examiner on 1 November, 2019.  



Paternal Leave

SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens was referenced in the Irish Examiner regarding extending paternal leave.

The Transition to a Low Carbon Economy

Read about how the SFA will support the small business community throughout the transition to a low carbon economy and society...

In recent weeks the SFA have met with members, stakeholders and Government officials on how the transition to a low carbon economy and society will create significant challenges as well as opportunities for Ireland’s small firms. In order to support our members with this transition we have put together the below plan identifying the actions and recommendations needed to empower small firms to make the transition.


Environmental Sustainability  

Small business owners care about the environment and have already begun taking steps to reduce their emissions. Nevertheless, more needs to be done and small firms must think ahead to how they can become more sustainable in the coming months and years.  Government must work with small firms to reduce emissions without negatively affecting our competitiveness. Investment in the next generation of low carbon businesses and entrepreneurs is needed if they are to play a role in the new green economy. In addition, small firms must be empowered to adapt to severe weather and to conserve water and energy.  


Actions to be taken by the SFA   

  • Provided evidence to various Government and industry consultations, working groups and reports, including the Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
  • Engage with key stakeholders such as:  
    • SFA members; 
    • Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment;  
    • Ibec;  
    • SEAI;  
    • Irish Water;  
    • Energy sector;  
    • Transport sector;  
    • Insurance sector;  
    • Local authorities; and   
    • Financing authorities.  
  • Call for targeted supports and incentives to help small businesses overcome the high capital costs and long payback periods of transitioning to a low carbon economy.  
  • SFA will support the Government to achieve the 2030 targets set out in the Climate Action Plan 2019.    
  • Undertake research to look at whether small business access to flood insurance is being reduced due to the current state of our insurance market and changes to our climate.   
  • Provide advice and information about resilience planning for small businesses.  
  • Engage with local authorities to ensure:  
  • Continued funding for strategic flood defences;  
  • Improved waste management systems and infrastructure;   
  • Continued investment in educational and training programmes; and  
  • Enforcement of ant-littering laws and EU wastewater legislation.   


  • Improve small firms access to information on environmental sustainability.
  • Provide small firms with the tools and incentives to further reduce their carbon footprint. 
  • Support small firms in their innovative efforts. 
  • Turn sustainability into a first-mover advantage for small business.  
  • Improve access to finance.
  • Despite the uncertainty of Brexit government and business actions in this area need to continue.
  • Enhance small firms access to skills, talent and external advice.
  • Ensure that national legislative activity does not generate barriers to trade or entrepreneurship. 
  • Provide small firms with the tools and incentives to transition to a low carbon and circular economy.  
Justifying Redundancy

This week, as part of our series on redundancy, we take a look at the five grounds a business needs to rely on if they have to make a role or roles redundant...

Redundancy is a painful process for both the employee and the employer. It is a decision that many businesses seek to avoid but sometimes a restructure of roles or reducing the number of roles is a necessary evil. Therefore, it is crucial that the redundancy process is handled fairly and as sensitively as possible. There are three areas that employers need to be mindful of: 

  1. Was there a genuine ground for the redundancy? 

  1. Was the employee fairly selected for redundancy? 

  1. Was a reasonable redundancy procedure implemented? 

Most case law for unfair dismissal by way of redundancy falls under one of these three reasons and the next few articles will detail how businesses can avoid incurring a potential WRC claim for one of these reasons. This article will look at the first point, is there a genuine ground for the redundancy? 


Under section 7(2) of the Redundancy Payments Act it details five grounds that employers can rely on if they need to make a role or roles redundant. These are as follows: 


( a) the fact that their employer has ceased, or intends to cease, to carry on the business for the purposes of which the employee was employed by them, or has ceased or intends to cease, to carry on that business in the place where the employee was so employed 


( b ) the fact that the requirements of that business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where he was so employed have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish 


( c ) the fact that his employer has decided to carry on the business with fewer or no employees, whether by requiring the work for which the employee had been employed (or had been doing before his dismissal) to be done by other employees or otherwise 


( d ) the fact that his employer has decided that the work for which the employee had been employed (or had been doing before his dismissal) should henceforward be done in a different manner for which the employee is not sufficiently qualified or trained 


( e ) the fact that his employer has decided that the work for which the employee had been employed (or had been doing before his dismissal) should henceforward be done by a person who is also capable of doing other work for which the employee is not sufficiently qualified or trained 


A business must rely on one of these five grounds in order to justify the redundancy and be confident that they can stand over the decisions to reduce roles. This is especially important for standalone redundancies which can often be seen as a way of getting rid of the person as opposed to the role. The ground will need to be referred to during the redundancy process as well as the documentation relating to it.   


The SFA have a webinar on managing redundancies which includes some case law on redundancies which you can view here.  


If you have any specific concerns or questions please contact Helen on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit the advice section on our website www.sfa.ie/advice  

OECD Study on SMEs and Entrepreneurship in Ireland

Ministers Humphreys and Breen launch new OECD reports on small and medium-sized businesses in Ireland...

On 31 October the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation launched (DBEI) an OECD Review of SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland and an accompanying road map with priority areas for implementation. The OECD was commissioned in March 2018 by Minister Humphreys to undertake the Review. The SFA was heavily involved in the OECD study visits to Ireland and in the various working groups that supported the work of the OECD. The SFA has been calling for the introduction of a national Small Business Strategy that places a clear focus on the 98% of businesses employing half the private sector workforce for a few years now. It is very gratifying that the Government has listened to what the SFA and OECD have been saying about the need to improve SME and entrepreneurship policies and programmes in order to boost the number and performance of small businesses. 


The OECD’s analysis will form the basis for a new government strategy on SMEs and Entrepreneurship, which will be published by the end of the year following further consultation. 


The key OECD recommendations for Ireland and areas for focus in the forthcoming new strategy include: 

  • Publish a unified cross-government policy statement covering both SMEs and entrepreneurship, setting out ambitious targets and aligning all relevant policies and schemes. Implementation of the national strategy should be overseen by a new interdepartmental committee on SMEs and entrepreneurship. 
  • Target a 50 per cent increase in the number of SMEs exporting including by driving ambition and innovation among indigenous SMEs. 
  • Increase adoption of best practice management techniques, including in the key areas like digital and automation skills and in sales, marketing and accountancy. Also encourage a wider take-up of Skillnet Ireland programmes to develop management capabilities in Irish SMEs. 
  • Achieve a step-up in financial skills and knowledge among SMEs so they can make better use of the mix of debt and equity finance available in the Irish market. Similarly, increase the take-up of guarantee schemes to improve the financing environment for SMEs. 
  • Encourage and support SME involvement in innovation collaborations between SMEs and research institutions, as well as collaborations between SMEs, research institutions and multinationals. This will benefit everyone involved and also help SMEs to discover new technologies and improve their management practices. 
  • Ramp up support for the digitalisation of SME business processes, especially through the LEO network.
  • Simplify the administrative processes for SMEs applying for R&D tax credits to encourage more take-up. This will build on the improvements already made. 
  • Support greater SME engagement in the areas of energy and the environment, particularly in research, innovation and procurement. This will improve productivity and competitiveness and accelerate the transition to the low-carbon economy. 
  • Roll-out a new standards adoption programme for SMEs. This should include guidelines on integrating standards in products and services together with consulting advice on adopting appropriate standards. Standards development and use can enhance productivity in SMEs, facilitate supply chain linkages and international collaborations and enhance spill-overs from multinationals to SMEs. 
  • Establish a national support framework for local enterprise-led networks and clusters across the country to drive SME participation. This will help to spread the message around the supports and opportunities available. It will also support the professional development of managers of these networks. 

The full report can be downloaded here


Pictured (from left to right): SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens, Minister Pat Breen, Minister Heather Humphreys and Professor Thomas M Cooney, College of Business, TU Dublin.

Promote you business in the Better Business magazine

Get your business featured in our Better Business magazine...

When reading the quarterly Better Business magazine, you will no doubt have noticed the fantastic exposure given to a wide range of SFA member companies. The magazine is posted to all SFA members and to the broader SFA network and is also available in some newsagents. Along with the printed publication, there is a digital edition and a Better Business website, which will enable you to profile your business directly to the SFA membership community and beyond. 


If you would like your business to feature in the winter 2019/2020 edition of Better Business, follow these simple steps: 


  • Share your company news with the SFA: let us know if you have launched a new product, been nominated for an award or undergone a rebrand. Add Elizabeth Bowen (elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie) to your press release list or send her a short article (max 150 words) if there is something newsworthy happening in your business. The deadline for news content for the winter 2019/2020 edition is Tuesday, 26 November. 
  • Advertise in Better Business: to advertise or place editorial content in the magazine, contact Shane Kelly from the Ashville Media Group directly on 01 432 2234 or shane.kelly@ashvillemediagroup.com. Special rates are available for SFA members. 

To read the latest edition see www.sfa.ie

Taking your business to the next level for 2020

Sign up for the SFA Skillnet Leaders’ Round table Programme, a unique business development programme for SME leaders and senior managers...


Do you want to take your business to the next level in 2020? The SFA Skillnet Leaders’ Round table Programme, a unique business development programme for leaders and senior managers who want to take their business to a new performance level, has been designed specifically for SMEs.


To deliver the Programme, we've selected an excellent trainer and facilitator, Brian Smyth, who has wealth of experience in Ireland and abroad. We can also price the Programme competitively through SFA Skillnet funding.


Programme Format

The Leaders’ Round Table Programme commences with a one-day Creative Workshop in November followed by three half-day monthly sessions. 


Throughout these monthly sessions you will learn not only how to work in more creative ways in your company but will be helped to achieve real breakthroughs on the issues, challenges and opportunities of most importance to your business.


The programme will be workshop based where you will work on and progress the real issues facing your business.  This creates the necessary environment for embedding long-term learning, sustainable behaviour change and concrete business results.



€900.00           for SFA Skillnet and SFA Members

€1,200.00        for Non-Members



Kick off and full day workshop:  20 November 2019

The December 2019 as well as January and February 2020 dates will be agreed at the first workshop.



Tribeca meeting room, Iconic Offices, No. 9 Pembroke Street, Dublin 2.



For more information on the Leaders’ Roundtable Programme contact Tillie Keogh, phone 01 605 1695 or email tilliem.keogh@sfa.ie.


About the Trainer

Delivered by 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. Prior to founding Maybe International, he previously worked for NASA in South America and subsequently spent a number of years in General Motors as Personnel Manager, Production Manager and Managing Director. Brian has worked with global companies in North and South America, Asia and in different countries across Europe. Others were non-profit organisations or smaller businesses both in Ireland and overseas. Brian also helps sport teams and individuals to new levels of performance, achievement and well-being in their particular sport. What they all have in common is a need or desire to achieve more and be more than they had previously been. He claims they all made it!

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

Insurance: The personal injuries assessment process explained - webinar
  • 20 November

Businesses are concerned about employee and public liability claims. To address these concerns the SFA have partnered with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) to help our members learn more about the personal injuries assessment process.

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is Ireland’s independent State body which assesses the amount of compensation a person may be due in the case of a workplace injury or a motor/public place accident.

This webinar will help businesses understand the personal injuries assessment process. It will outline the way the PIAB delivers compensation more quickly, with lower costs and predictable outcomes. It will also take you through how you can best engage with the PIAB in the case of an employee or public liability claim.

Presenters will be…
Paddy Hewson, Senior Claims Assessor, PIAB
Elizabeth Bowen, Senior Executive, SFA

SFA members only please click here to register for webinar.



SFA On-Line GDPR Programme
  • 31 December

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.

Enrol your staff and managers to ensure they staff are informed of their obligations under the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 and GDPR.

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 the 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

Member rate €70 | Non-member rate €80

Book on here

NI Water Supplier Engagement Event
  • 21 November

InterTradeIreland in partnership with NI Water are delighted to announce that they will be delivering a Supplier Engagement Event on 21 November 2019 in Titanic Belfast.


Building on the success of last year’s event, this year’s event is another exciting opportunity for new and existing contractors and suppliers across a diverse range of sectors to join with NI Water in helping to deliver what matters to their customers.


The event will have three zones:


• Innovation

• Pipeline Opportunities & Strategic Contractors

• Learning


New this year; budget holders from across NI Water and NI Water Alpha are looking for innovation focusing on Energy, Calm Networks/Smart Networks (including wastewater and leakage) and Data Analytics/AI.


The ever popular Research, Development and Innovation team will also be on hand to discuss other innovation opportunities.  Operational contract managers and procurement staff will be on hand to discuss the wide range of tenders and pipeline of opportunities across a host of supplies and services and you will have the opportunity to introduce your company to some of NI Water’s Strategic Contractors and to discuss potential sub-contracting opportunities.


Ervia supply chain staff will also be in attendance. Ervia has procurement responsibility for Irish Water, Gas Networks Ireland and Aurora Telecoms. They will be available to discuss the Ervia tender opportunities coming up over the next 24 months.


The Learning zone will offer information sessions to help you understand “How to tender for NI Water’s contracts”, and how to “Deliver a contract” if you are successful.


You will also have to opportunity to gain an understanding of collaborative bidding and establishing Consortia through the “Winning Collaborative Bids” session and Construction & Procurement Delivery (CPD) will be present to help with any eTendersNI queries.


Register NOW The event is FREE to attend but registration is essential. Secure your place now by visiting https://intertradeireland.com/sell2niwater/