SFA E-zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this week's edition of our SFA e-zine.  


This week we are delighted to begin to announce some of the speakers at the SFA Annual Conference, 'Time to transform'. As this event is free for our members to attend I want to encourage you to book your place as soon as possible, seats are limited and filling up quickly.


For our GDPR tip of the week this week we are looking at the need for a Data Protection Officer in your business. Tomorrow we have our GDPR webinar on record keeping, if you are not registered there is still time, just register here


Force majeure is an issue that confuses many business owners and HR managers so today we have a very useful guide to handling it within your business.


We have two articles relating to Brexit, the first relating to the impact of Brexit on the retail sector.  The second article is part of our Supporting SME’s programme and looks at the Start to Plan voucher.


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
  • ESRI minimum wage report
  • Small Claims Court

Last week SFA director, Sven Spollen-Brehens spoke on both Newstalk Radio and East Coast FM radio about the findings of the new ESRI report on the impact of the 2016 increase in the National Minimum Wage.


Sven was also quoted in the Irish Times in an article about the Small Claims Court and the opportunity for businesses to use the process against other businesses. 

SFA Annual Conference - Time to transform

This year the SFA Annual Conference theme is ‘Time to transform’, exposing delegates to the challenges and opportunities coming down the line for their businesses.


Each of our topics will have an expert line-up of speakers, who will share with you their thoughts, experiences and suggestions for you as small businesses.


The first session of the day will be on Competitiveness.


We are delighted to have Deputy Michéal Martin attend our conference and speak to the delegates around the topic of competitiveness and provide an assessment of the current state of the Irish economy and the risks that the Government should be preparing for.  He will speak about what Fianna Fáil’s approach to boosting Ireland’s competitiveness will be if they were to form the next Government. 


He will speak alongside SFA Chair Sue O’Neill, a small business owner herself, who will outline the challenges facing SFA members. She will make the case for a Small Business Strategy to Deputy Martin and the other policy-makers in the room, showing the vital boost that this would give to indigenous businesses.


Book now for a morning of learning, motivation and networking:

*The cost of your ticket is redeemable off SFA membership for 2018

Do I need a Data Protection Officer under GDPR?

This week we look at whether your business needs a Data Protection Officer (DPO) and what the criteria are under GDPR. Read on to learn what is the role of a DPO…

In this week's article, we look at whether your business needs a Data Protection Officer (DPO). For many small businesses a DPO will not be necessary, however if any of the following apply to your business, a DPO is mandatory under GDPR:

  • Your organisation is a public authority or a public body
  • The core activity of your business is the regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale
  • The core activity of your business is the processing of sensitive data on a large scale or it involves the processing of personal data relating to criminal convictions and/or offences

The above applies to data controllers and data processors. It is also recommended that private organisations who carry out public tasks on behalf of a public authority should appoint a DPO.


What is a core activity?


Core activities can be defined as the key operations that are necessary to achieve the business’s goals. An example of this is a private security company that carries out surveillance of private shopping centres and/or public spaces using CCTV. In this instance they would need to appoint a DPO as surveillance is the core activity of their business.


On the other hand, it is not mandatory to appoint a DPO where a business undertakes activities such as payroll and IT support as these are considered ancillary services rather than core activities.


What is large scale processing?


GDPR does not define what is large scale processing but businesses should consider the following in relation to their personal data processing activities:

  • The number of individuals (data subjects) concerned – either as a specific number or as a proportion of the relevant population
  • The volume of data and/or the range of different data items being processed
  • The duration, or permanence, of the data processing activity
  • The geographical extent of the processing activity

Examples of large-scale processing include:

  • Processing of patient data in the regular course of business by a hospital
  • Processing of travel data of individuals using a city’s public transport system (e.g. tracking via travel cards)
  • Processing of customer data in the regular course of business by an insurance company or a bank
  • Processing of personal data for behavioural advertising by a search engine

Examples that do not constitute large-scale processing include:

  • Processing of patient data by an individual doctor
  • Processing of personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences by an individual lawyer

What skills and expertise should the DPO have?


GDPR states that the DPO: “shall be designated on the basis of professional qualities and, in particular, expert knowledge of data protection law”.


Whilst the regulation does not define the professional qualities required or detail the training a DPO would need, their level of experience and qualifications should be in line with the complexity and scale of data processing within that business.


They would also need, at a minimum, the following skills and experience:

  • Expertise in national and European data protection laws and practices including an in-depth understanding of GDPR
  • Understanding of the processing operations carried out within the business
  • Understanding of IT and data security
  • Knowledge of the business sector and the organisation as well as the ability to promote a data protection culture within the business

What is the role of the DPO?


The role of the DPO includes the following:

  • Monitoring compliance in line with GDPR
  • The key point of contact for the Data Protection Commissioner
  • The key point of contact for data subjects
  • Ensuring that data protection record keeping is maintained
  • Ensuring that organisational and technical processes and procedures are in line with GDPR
  • Training other staff and raising GDPR awareness
  • Providing assistance in data protection impact assessments (DPIAs)

A DPO can be hired internally or externally and for some businesses they might want to outsource the DPO function, so it is shared amongst a group of businesses. If you decide that a DPO is not required, it is important that whoever looks after data protection and GDPR in your business does not have DPO stated in their job title.


Whilst a DPO can carry out other tasks and duties, it is important that there is no conflict of interest between their existing duties and the DPO role so that they can remain sufficiently independent in their role as DPO.


Finally, DPOs are not personally responsible for GDPR compliance under GDPR as data protection compliance is the responsibility of the business.


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

Force Majeure – what you need to know

This week’s HR article looks at force majeure leave – what is it and who does it apply to? Read on to learn about how force majeure leave works in practice…

Force Majeure Leave is provided for in the Parental Leave Acts, 1998 and 2006. What this means is that in the event of a sudden injury or illness that affects a member of the employee’s immediate family and whereby the employee’s presence to assist the family member is indispensable, then the employee is entitled to immediate paid leave for that purpose.


What is the employee entitled to?


An employee is entitled to paid leave for:

  • Up to three days in any twelve-month period
  • Five days in any period of 36 consecutive months

Part days are regarded as a full day even if the employee leaves work one or two hours early. 


What is the scope of immediate family members under force majeure leave?

  • A child/adoptive child of the employee
  • A spouse or person with whom an employee is living as a husband or wife
  • A person to whom the employee is in loco parentis
  • A brother or sister of the employee
  • A parent or grandparent of the employee
  • A person who resides with the employee in a relationship of domestic dependency

Force majeure leave in practice


When referring to force majeure leave in policies or other documentation, it is recommended that businesses use the terms ‘emergency leave’ or ‘emergency family leave’ as it is only granted in these exceptional circumstances.


Due to the nature of this type of leave, no notice can be given, however business should request that the employee document that they availed of force majeure leave when they return to work. This form should include:

  • The employee's name and PPS number
  • The employer's name and address
  • The name and address of the person to whom the leave relates
  • The relationship of this person to the employee and the nature of the illness or injury
  • The dates on which the leave is taken
  • A confirmation that the emergency leave was taken for urgent family reasons arising from the illness or injury which rendered the presence of the employee indispensable

It should be noted that these notices should be held on the employee file for one year and as the information contains sensitive personal data, the business would need to ensure the notice is properly safeguarded in line with GDPR.


Force majeure leave needs to be assessed on a case by case basis and the following pointers should be considered:

  • Each case must be assessed on its own merits
  • No illness is too small – the decision to grant force majeure leave must be based on the facts as they appeared at the time of the incident giving rise to the claim rather than viewing the circumstances in hindsight and taking into account the ultimate seriousness or otherwise of the illness
  • Force majeure leave is not intended to provide child-minding facilities;
  • It cannot be pre-scheduled
  • The employee must be at the place where the injured/ill person is situated

Force majeure leave specifically excludes bereavements. There is no statutory entitlement to paid time off resulting from a family bereavement, however, many businesses do have a policy granting some leave in this regard.


For further information on force majeure leave and other HR issues, please contact Helen Quinn on helen.quinn@sfa.ie or 01 605 1668.

Ireland and the impacts of Brexit on the retail sector

At a meeting of Retail Consultation Forum last week, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) gave a comprehensive overview of its efforts to achieve the best possible outcome from the Brexit negotiations through research and stakeholder engagement.

DBEI is currently leading a range of Brexit research projects which will provide an extensive evidence base and valuable analysis to inform and guide the Government’s response to Brexit. Work includes:

  • a major study examining the strategic implications arising from EU-UK trading patterns (Copenhagen Economics Study)
  • a study examining the qualitative sectoral implications arising from Brexit
  • a study examining the import content of Irish exports
  • a study examining the skills needs arising from the potential trading and regulatory implications of Brexit
  • a study by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) with the ESRI analysing the financial impact of Brexit on consumers in Ireland

At the recent Retail Consultation Forum session, the DBEI presentation focused in particular on an analysis of the negative impact of Brexit on the Irish retail sector. The likely increase in consumer prices as a result of the introduction of tariffs, the decrease in consumer demand, disruptions in the supply chain and on logistics were discussed as just a few of many challenges for the Irish retail sector as a result of Brexit.


An overview document published by DBEI that provides a summary of supports and resources available can be downloaded here.

Start to Plan voucher – €2,000 for Brexit advice and training

Spotlight on the Start to Plan voucher, which offers €2,000 to small firms for professional advice on preparing for Brexit. The voucher has now been expanded to cover Brexit training courses. 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.

IntertradeIreland Start to Plan Brexit voucher


A voucher worth up to €2,000 for professional advice and training to assist your business to prepare for Brexit. The voucher offers 100% financial support, no matched investment is required from the company.  

The vouchers can be used for a range of advice services, including:

  • Movement of labour
  • Movement of goods
  • Services
  • Currency management

New: This voucher can also be used to pay for training for you and your staff in areas related to Brexit, e.g. supply chain/market diversification.

You should ensure to get approval from InterTradeIreland for the specific course prior to payment.



InterTradeIreland helps small businesses explore new cross-border markets, develop new products, processes and services and become investor ready. It provides practical cross-border business funding, business intelligence and meaningful contacts to SMEs across the island, North and South, looking to grow their businesses.


Currently, much of the work of InterTradeIreland is focused on assisting companies to prepare for Brexit.



The first step is to fill out the application form available on the InterTradeIreland website.


If availing of professional services, the service provider must be selected from the approved list if you have already selected a provider, this should be included in the application form. Your application will be assessed and you will be informed whether it has been approved. If approved, you will be issued with a Terms of Reference to be completed by the service provider.


If you wish to use your voucher towards training, please contact Mark Sterritt, Brexit Advisory Service Manager on 048 3083 4122 or mark.sterritt@intertradeireland.com.



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

  • The vouchers are specifically for SMEs with up to 250 employees and a turnover of less than €50 million.
  • InterTradeIreland particularly welcomes applications from companies aspiring to do business in Northern Ireland for the first time.
  • More information is available on www.intertradeireland.com/brexit/vouchers/   


Record keeping and GDPR – Key considerations before you dump and delete
  • 25 April, Online webinar

One of the key principles for GDPR is the data minimisation principle. This means that businesses should only hold on to personal data for as long as necessary. The challenge for many businesses is determining the length of time to hold personal data so that they can comply with GDPR. What should they factor in before dumping and deleting electronic and physical data?


This webinar will look at the key reasons to hold on to data and how businesses can objectively justify keeping data under GDPR. These include:

  • Legal retention periods for HR records
  • Limitation periods  and what this means
  • Health and safety records
  • Regulatory considerations
  • Business considerations

Join us on this webinar on Wednesday 25 April from 3pm to 3.30pm.


You must register online in advance, please do so here

PAYE modernisation – what every employer needs to know
  • 09 May, Bord Gais Offices

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.

Revenue is currently implementing the most significant reform of the PAYE system since its introduction in 1960. All employers will have to update their business processes to allow real time reporting to Revenue.

There are a number of actions that employers need to take now and throughout 2018, whether you use payroll software or not.

Date:             9th May 2018

Time:             17:30 - 19:30

Duration:        2 hours

Venue:           Bord Gáis Energy

Address:        1 Warrington Place

                      Dublin 2

Sinead Sweeney, Change Manager for PAYE Modernisation in Revenue, will deliver this session. She will help you to understand the changes that are being made and outline the steps you should take to prepare your business for a smooth transition on 1 January 2019. She will also be available to answer any questions you have about PAYE modernisation.

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.

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Briana McTiernan, Tel: +353 1 605 1622

GDPR for Small Firms - training course
  • 11 May, SFA offices

This full day event is taking place in the SFA offices, 84 - 86 Lower Baggot St and is designed to give small businesses and overview of GDPR and ensure they are on the right track towards being compliant.  This course will cost €190 for SFA members and must be booked in advance.  You can book your place today, here


The details of the day are as follows


 08.30 – Registration and coffee

 09.00 – Welcome address – Nichola Harkin, Ibec

 09.05 – Overview of the GDPR – Nichola Harkin,  Ibec

  • Key definitions and scope
  • Processing of personal data
  • Risk based implementation
  • Sanctions and compensation

 09.45 – GDPR and employee data – Paul Rochford,  Ibec

  • Employer’s increased obligations under GDPR
  • Enhanced rights for employees
  • Data retention
  • Data access

 10.30 – GDPR and customer data  - Helen Quinn, SFA

  • Enhanced rights for individuals
  • Consent
  • Direct marketing

 11.00 – Coffee break

 11.20 – Data Protection Officers – Michael Kinsley

  • Do we need a DPO?
  • Role of the DPO
  • Suitability of the DPO 

 11.50 – Questions and answers

 12.20 – Data Protection Impact Assessments  – Michael Kinsley

  • When do we need to carry out an impact assessment?
  • Carrying out an impact assessment
  • Consultation with the Data  Protection Commissioner

 1.00 – Lunch

2.00 – Applying the knowledge

  • Practical exercise
  • Lessons learned
  • Sharing solutions

 2.30 – Security of data -

  • Tom Brett’s presentation

 3.00 – Preparing for GDPR – Paul Rochford,  Ibec

  • What to do between now and May 2018
  • Conducting a data protection audit
  • Further guidance

 3.45 – Questions and answers

4.00 – Close

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Quelba Lima, Tel: +353 1 605 1619

SFA Annual Conference
  • 24 May, UCD Science Centre

The Small Firms Association is the trusted partner of over 8,500 small firms in Ireland. The SFA Annual Conference is our flagship event and helps small business owners and managers to keep up to date with the latest trends in HR, management and innovation provides an opportunity to come together to make connections and learn from each other’s experiences.

We  will see 300 entrepreneurs, owner-managers, policy makers and media gather together to explore how to create competitive advantage in the current economic and business environment. A mix of keynote addresses and panel discussions will focus on how small businesses can stay competitive, gain access to and retain talent and deal with new regulatory challenges such as GDPR.

To book your place please click here.

How to manage performance in your business

Performance management is the next course available in our ‘Training that counts’ suite. All programmes are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience.

At SFA, we’re here to help you create time for things that can make a real difference to your business, like developing management capacity and other skills for you and your staff.


Performance management is the next course available in our ‘Training that counts’ suite. All programmes are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience.


Performance Management


This programme will help managers to run the appraisal interview and process within their own organisations. The programme will give managers the confidence to deal with challenging behaviour and performance-related issues while getting the best from those who are performing well.


Programme Outcomes:


On completion of this programme, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the components of an effective appraisal system
  • Implement the core elements of practical appraisal documentation
  • Know how to conduct an appraisal interview and the effective management of each element
  • Develop the key skills needed to run an appraisal interview with a range of people performing at different levels 


Date: 27 April (one-day course)

Time: 8:30am-3:30pm 

Venue: SFA/Ibec offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Cost: €220 (SFA member rate)


Book here


If you would like any more information, please contact Quelba Lima in the Ibec Training Unit on quelba.lima@ibec.ie or 01 605 1619.