SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member,   

In this week's e-zine, we bring you details of a case where an employer was ordered to pay €34,000 due to a flawed redundancy procedure.

Each week in the SFA e-zine, we profile a different government support available to small businesses. In this edition, we focus on Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur - a €2 million investment fund for entrepreneurs aged 18-35. 

Find out more about the Low Pay Commission report which recommends a 30c increase in the minimum wage. We link to the Skillnets Annual Report and to the National Competitiveness Council publication on Ireland’s Competitiveness Scorecard 2017.

Book your place at the next SFA webinar taking place tomorrow (26 July) on government supports for small business. You can now buy your tickets for the SFA Employment Law Conferences taking place this year in Limerick on 20 September and in Dublin on 9 October. Take part in the SFA Village at the Your Business Live event on 17-18 October and book your seat for the SFA Annual Lunch 2017 taking place in the Mansion House on 10 November. Give your business the competitive edge by upskilling yourself and your staff through our upcoming training courses. We also provide a summary of 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 1626 or e-mail: linda.barry@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.

Kind regards, 

Linda Barry

SFA Acting Director

Recent press coverage
  • National Minimum Wage
  • Investment in small firms 
  • Motorway between Waterford and Limerick

National Minimum Wage

The SFA issued a press release on 18 July criticising the Low Pay Commission's recommendations to Government on the National Minimum Wage. This was covered in:

SFA Acting Director, Linda Barry was interviewed on the topic on RTE Radio Drivetime on 18 July, on KFM on 19 July and on Regional Radio Mid-West and Kerry on 20 July.

Investment in small firms increasing despite Brexit concerns

The SFA issued a press release on new data launched regarding the finance and investment priorities of small firms on 8 June. This week this was covered in the Dairy & Food Industries Magazine on 19 July.

Motorway between Waterford and Limerick

The SFA was referenced in articles in the Munster Express and Waterford News & Star on 18 July suppporting the chambers call for a motorway between Waterford and Limerick.

Employer ordered to pay €34,000 due to flawed redundancy procedure
The Workplace Relations Commission awarded over €34,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal to a language teacher who was dismissed on the grounds of redundancy...

The Workplace Relations Commission awarded over €34,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal to a language teacher who was dismissed on the grounds of redundancy.

The Adjudication officer (AO), in ruling in favour of the complaint, was particularly critical that the company did not engage in any form of consultation with the employee or make any attempt to explore alternatives. It was also negatively viewed that the claimant failed to receive a redundancy lump sum until seven months after the redundancy had taken place and also that her P45 was not issued, which led to her encountering problems in securing social welfare assistance/another job. In making the award, in addition to the redundancy lump sum already paid, the AO held:

“All in all, the complainant has been treated shabbily by her former employer. The manner in which she was dismissed was unfair: procedures were non-existent and the rules of natural justice ignored.”

From this case, it is clear that it is of utmost importance that an employer follows a fair and transparent process when implementing any redundancy. Some of the key steps in a redundancy procedure are:

  • Engage with employees at an early stage regarding any proposed redundancies, explaining the rationale and getting agreement on the selection method that will be used
  • Before any compulsory redundancies are implemented, explore all alternatives such as voluntary redundancy, reduced hours, lay off etc
  • Consider redeployment to any alternative positions that might be available within the organisation
  • Consider any proposals put forward by the employee(s) concerned and explore these fully with the employee
  • Give the employee(s) a right to apply for and to be considered for any new roles being created
  • Ensure notes are taken at each meeting and request that the employee(s) sign these to confirm they are an accurate reflection of the items discussed.
  • Give the employee(s) an option to be accompanied at the meetings
  • Consider offering a right to appeal the redundancy decision.

For further information on redundancy, the SFA have a useful guideline on our website of contact Ciara McGuone on 01 605 1668 or ciara.mcguone@sfa.ie with further queries. 

Minimum wage – deep divisions over proposed 30c increase

The Low Pay Commission has recommended that the Government increase the National Minimum Wage rate by 30c to €9.55 per hour from 1 January 2018. The three Commission members with an employer background have, however, issued a minority report disagreeing with the recommendation, stating that “it is not an evidence based conclusion”...

On 18 July, the Low Pay Commission published its yearly report on the National Minimum Wage, which included a number of recommendations to Government:

  1. The rate of the National Minimum Wage for an experienced adult worker should increase by 30c to €9.55 per hour
  2. Employers’ PRSI should be amended to remove the anomaly created by the sudden increase in the rate of employers’ PRSI from 8.5% to 10.75% of weekly earnings of €376
  3. Provision should be made for the display of basic entitlements in all places of employment where the minimum wage is in operation

For the first time since the Commission’s establishment in 2015, the three members with an employer background did not support the recommendation on the minimum wage rate. In a minority report they stated that the proposed increase is “of such a magnitude as to be outside of our statutory brief” and “it is not an evidence based conclusion”.

In February 2017, the Small Firms Association made a written submission to the Low Pay Commission, urging the Commission to take account of the varied circumstances and prospects of small businesses and communities in Ireland. It stated that across-the-board pay increases are not appropriate at this time and there is no evidence basis for a change in the minimum wage. Reacting to the publication of the Low Pay Commission’s report, the SFA issued a statement to the press, outlining why an increase in the minimum wage would act as a barrier to job creation. The print, broadcast and online coverage of the SFA’s position is summarised in the media update section of this e-zine.

The final decision on the rate of the National Minimum Wage will be made by Cabinet and announced in Budget 2018 in October, with any change coming into effect on 1 January 2018. Given the warm welcome that the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Finian McGrath of the Independent Alliance gave to the recommendations at the launch of the report, it looks likely that the rate increase will be accepted by Government.

The SFA will continue to give voice to the small business perspective on this issue in advance of the formal announcement of the 2018 rate in Budget 2018. If you would like to share your views or the impact on your business, contact Linda Barry, Acting Director, on 01 605 1626 or linda.barry@sfa.ie

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur: €2 million investment fund for entrepreneurs aged 18-35

Spotlight on the IBYE (Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur) programme, a competition for young entrepreneurs with support available to entrants through training, mentoring, networking and a €2 million investment fund. This article provides information on the programme 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.

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE)


Competitive awards programme for entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35, with support available to entrants through training, mentoring and a €2 million investment fund.

There are three categories:

  • Best Business Idea (pre-trading at time of application)
  • Best Start-Up Business (up to 18 months)
  • Best Established Business (over 18 months)


The aim of the programme is to highlight the achievements of young entrepreneurs and to stimulate more entrepreneurial activity amongst young people.

The programme is also used to demonstrate that there is help available to young people who want to start their own businesses.


Entries can be made online at www.ibye.ie. The closing date is 29 September 2017.

Selected applicants will be invited to regional ‘Entrepreneur Bootcamps’ in November.

Each Local Enterprise Office chooses a category winner and runner-up in each of the three categories. The winners at county level will progress to the eight regional finals in early 2018. The regional winners in each category will compete in the national final in March 2018, with one of the category winners also being named Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.

The assessment criteria are:

  • Promoter/s: 25 Marks
  • Market opportunity: 25 Marks
  • Ability to deliver key commercial milestones: 20 Marks
  • Innovation: 10 Marks
  • Potential to deliver economic impacts: 10 Marks
  • Quality of application & business plan: 10 Marks
  • Pitch & interview: 40 Marks
  • Total Marks: 140

Prize funding is available at different stages of the process:

  • County level: €50,000 prize fund available for the three category winners and three runners up
  • National level: €100,000 prize fund available for the three category winners


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

  • There is no entry fee for IBYE applicants.
  • Applicants must be 18 or over at the date of application and 35 or under on 31 December 2017.
  • The competition is open to people overseas who intend to headquarter their business in Ireland.
  • More information is available at www.ibye.ie or through your Local Enterprise Office
National Competitiveness Council publishes Ireland’s Competitiveness Scorecard 2017
The Scorecard provides an assessment of Ireland's competitiveness performance in comparison with a range of countries with which it competes for trade and investment... 

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC) published its annual benchmarking report, Ireland’s Competitiveness Scorecard 2017 on 20 July.

The Scorecard provides an assessment of Ireland's competitiveness performance in comparison with a range of countries with which it competes for trade and investment. 

Ireland moved from 7th to 6th in the IMD’s annual World Competitiveness Yearbook 2017. Economic growth, improved public finances, trade and a strong labour market performance have all contributed to Ireland’s improved international competitiveness.

The Council finds that while Ireland’s competitive performance continued to improve into the first half of 2017, a number of downside risks persist. In terms of the positive messages emerging, overall economic growth is being sustained, resulting in employment growth and a more favourable fiscal balance. Ireland performs relatively well in objective measures of well-being (income, education attainment, air and water quality) and health.

Conversely, factors weakening our competitiveness include Ireland’s continued high cost base, our dependence on a narrow range of exporting sectors, a series of labour market challenges (i.e. relating to long term and youth unemployment), infrastructural bottlenecks and relatively weak productivity performance in many sectors of the economy.      

The full report is available here

Skillnets Annual Report 2016
The Skillnets Annual Report 2016 highlights a positive year for the organisation. Funding levels were increased, and due to a continued demand for specialised talent companies engaged grew by 11%, with over 14,000 Irish businesses participating in the 63 training networks...

The Skillnets Annual Report 2016 highlights a positive year for the organisation. Funding levels were increased, and due to a continued demand for specialised talent companies engaged grew by 11%, with over 14,000 Irish businesses participating in the 63 training networks. A growing demand for the Skillnets offering was also apparent through the 50,000 trainees that participated in their programmes last year.

All Skillnets-funded programmes are subjected to independent evaluation each year. Preliminary results from the independent evaluation of 2016 programmes, given within the report, evidence the wide range of benefits experienced by businesses participating in Skillnets networks. 89% of businesses reported that being a member of a Skillnet had addressed skills gaps within their organisation. The full results from the independent evaluation will be available later this year.

View a copy of the report.

SFA Webinar - Government supports for small firms
  • 26 July

SFA Acting Director, Linda Barry will deliver a webinar on 26 July from 2:15pm - 2:45pm on 'The what, where and how of grants, loans, tax savings and other government supports.' 

Small businesses are missing opportunities to avail of government supports for their business due to lack of information and confusion. Understanding what supports your business qualifies for, where to apply for them and how to avoid some common pitfalls could be the key to sustaining your business or taking it to the next level. 

The webinar will cover:

  • the "Supporting SMEs online tool"
  • the various agencies that assist small business and their criteria
  • government policy incentives for starting and growing a business in Ireland
  • funding opportunities for small business, including through SBCI, Microfinance Ireland and the Credit Review Office
  • enterprise space, training & mentoring, advice and promotional opportunities

There will also be a special focus on Brexit supports for small business to help you to assess the risks posed to your business by Brexit and navigate the challenges that have already arisen or may develop under different scenarios.

You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

Register online now for the webinar.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you can't make this time, you can still register for the session and we'll send you a link to the recording afterwards so you can playback in your own time.

Book now - SFA Employment Law Conference
  • Limerick - Castletroy Park Hotel - 20 September 
  • Dublin - Clontarf Castle - 9 October 

Whats on the horizon?

This year’s SFA Employment Law Conference will be a vital opportunity for SFA members and other small businesses to understand recent changes in employment law and what they mean for your business, now and in the future. You will learn to protect your business interests while ensuring that you are acting in line with best practice and in compliance with the law.


What you will learn

  • Recent legislation – how have things changed?
  • Good record keeping and key dos and don’ts
  • 2 years on- Learning from case law
  • How to manage the probationary period, ensuring that fair procedures and natural justice apply
  • GDPR - Learn about this ground breaking data protection legislation which comes in to force on 25 May 2018
  • What you need to do to get your house in order
  • Vital lessons from the top 5 cases that will make a significant impact on your business
  • Learn about the essentials of the disciplinary process and how to have difficult conversations
  • Understand the 5 principal things your company should be doing before the end of 2017

Who should attend?

  • All owner managers or managers in small businesses who need to build their competence and confidence in the vital area of employment legislation.


  • SFA Member rate: €190 + VAT @ 23% (€233.70)

Book your place at the Limerick or Dublin event now. 

Book now - SFA Annual Lunch 2017
  • 10 November
  • The Mansion House

The SFA Annual Lunch is the highlight of the small business calendar. It is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution that small businesses make to the Irish economy and society.

The SFA Annual Lunch 2017 will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Friday, 10 November from 12:30pm - 4:30pm. 

Join over 500 guests, including small business owner-managers, politicians, senior government officials and media for the biggest business lunch of the year for small business. This is also the perfect opportunity to bring together your invited guests, special customers, clients and valued employees to kick off the festive season.

Member rate of €750 + VAT for a table of 10 or €75 + VAT - book your tickets online now

Be part of the SFA Village at Your Business Live
  • Showcase your business at Ireland's largest SME event - 17- 18 October

As partner of Your Business Live – Ireland's largest SME event, brought to market by The Irish Independent, the SFA plan to create a village whereby our members can come together to showcase their products and services at a preferred rate.

Your Business Live is a two day event taking place in the RDS on 17 & 18 October 2017 where entrepreneurs, owners and managers will gather to network, learn and keep up to date with the latest trends and hottest new products and services for their business. The event will attract in excess of 20,000 executives and decision makers who are looking to meet suppliers, source products and learn from an inspirational line up of speakers across four key stages, (Tech, Grow your business, Finance, Talent & HR).


We are delighted to offer our members the below preferential rate for exhibition space:

  • €260 per sq.m to include shell

  • 4 Sq.m. stand €1040

  • 6 Sq.m. stand €1560

  • 8 sq.m. stand €2080

Space only can also be arranged. Download a copy of the exhibitor brochure here and the floorplan hereTo book your stand please contact Celene Duffy 0872858421 or cduffy@independent.ie stating that you would like to be part of the SFA Village. 

Upcoming courses: Foundations in Management, Project Management, Performance Management and Appraisal Skills

Don’t miss the opportunity to develop key skills for yourself and your staff before the end of 2017 with training courses available from the SFA: Foundations in Management, Project Management and Performance Management and Appraisal Skills. The SFA offers training courses tailored to small businesses - check out the ‘Unlock your potential 2017’ brochure...

Throughout 2017, the SFA is focusing our course offering on the areas that will most benefit a small business. No matter what stage of development your business is at, these courses are designed to address your needs. Based on your feedback, the courses are short and are offered at very reasonable rates.

Avail of the training opportunities presented in the SFA ‘Unlock your potential 2017’ brochure to bolster your competitiveness and equip your business for the future.

Next available courses:

  • Foundations in Management, two-day course, 7-8 September or 23-24 November, Dublin, €370 for SFA members
  • Project Management, one-day course, 15 September, Dublin, €190 for SFA members
  • Performance Management and Appraisal Skills, one-day course, 14 December, Dublin, €190 for SFA members

To book your place, visit www.sfa.ie/events .