Welcome to the SFA February News Update 2014

Dear Member

In this month's issue we give advice on dealing with  Absenteeism Due to Inclement Weather Conditions, on your requirement to give employees' eyetests and outline the circumstances in which you can claim inability to pay statutory redundancy.  We welcome the publication of the Entrepreneurship Forum Report and share information on how you can access the new EU financial supports.

We outline the New Completion Date for Migration to SEPA , the Examinership ‘Lite’ amendment and new Changes to Rates Legislation, as well as New DSP Provisions to ease Transition into Retirement .

We also provide information on up and coming events including an SFA Webinar on Redundancy, SFA free Business Bytes seminar on Doing Business in China, Briefings on Access to Financial Support for hiring long-term unemployed people, training on Building Financial Capabilities in SMEs Programme and regional roadshows by 25 State Bodies on the services they provide to you, called Taking Care of Business.


Please do keep us informed of any issues that concern you.

Kind regards
Patricia Callan
SFA Director


SFA Annual Subscription
 
SFA membership is an important asset to your business and if you have not already done so, could I ask you to please remit your annual subscription by return...

SFA membership is an important asset to your business and if you have not already done so, could I ask you to please remit your annual subscription by return. My sincere thanks to the many companies who have already responded with their 2014 subscriptions.  If you have not received your 2014 invoice please email info@sfa.ie .

Please note that you can renew your subscription on-line by clicking here or by credit transfer, the bank details are:

Bank: Bank of Ireland

Bank Address: 2 College Green, Dublin 2

Account Name: SFA / Ibec

Bank Account: 10025922

Sort Code: 90-00-17

BIC: BOFIIE2D

IBAN: IE97BOFI90001710025922

Vat Number: IE 0051524W

From Thursday, 6th of February 2014, all individual company passwords to www.sfa.ie were disabled to the members only area of the website.  This will only be re-enabled on receipt of subscription.

Absenteeism Due to Inclement Weather Conditions
 
Some weather conditions have left employers questioning how to handle situations where employees are unable to attend for work due to poor weather conditions...

Some weather conditions have left employers questioning how to handle situations where employees are unable to attend for work due to poor weather conditions or disruption to transport services.  A company policy on absence due to bad or inclement weather should address situations where employees are unable to attend work, or organisations do not have work available, due to weather-related circumstances outside of their control.

Legally, employers do not have to pay employees for days that they do not work. However, it is important to be aware of any custom and practice in the organisation or contractual clause, which may override this position.

Companies may need to examine situations where employees make an effort to come into work and are delayed or have to leave early in order to avail of limited public transport, or where weather conditions deteriorate during the working day.  In certain instances it may be feasible for employees to do a certain amount of work from home rather than having to travel to company site.  Where a site is no longer accessible, employers need to consider the way to communicate this to employees. At all times, safety considerations must be paramount.

For further guidance on this issue and to access a sample policy pertaining to inclement weather and disruption of travel services, please click here.

Entrepreneurship Forum Report Published
 
The SFA welcomed the publication of the Entrepreneurship Forum Report launched by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD....

The SFA welcomed the publication of the Entrepreneurship Forum Report launched by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.  The Report includes 69 recommendations on creating a better environment for entrepreneurs, stimulating growth aspirations and inspiring a culture of entrepreneurship throughout Ireland. 

Minister Bruton stated that many of the recommendations in the report will be implemented as part of the Action Plan for Jobs process, and that the Department will prepare the first ever Government Entrepreneurship Policy Statement.  The report focuses on some key areas including mentorship and peer learning, access to talent, access to finance, public policy and promotion of entrepreneurship as an Irish cultural value. 

The report is available by clicking here.

EU Access to Finance Day – Conference Material
 
On Wednesday the 5th of February, the EU Access to Finance Conference took place. Discussed at the event was the following...

On Wednesday the 5th of February, the EU Access to Finance Conference took place.  Discussed at the event was the following:

  • EU Commission COSME programme will be providing €2.3 billion of additional funding for SMEs each year from 2014 to 2020.
  • How the EU relies on SME Sector for 85% of new jobs in the private sector.
  • Improving access to credit for SMEs is a priority for Government - Action Plan for Jobs advocates a proactive approach to SME sector, which is fundamental to the future of Irish businesses, Irish banking and the Irish economy as a whole.

By clicking here you will find the presentations delivered at the seminar as well as some useful links.

Inability to Pay Redundancy Payment
 
Where an employer can prove to the satisfaction of the Department of Social Protection that it is unable to pay the statutory redundancy to its employees...

Where an employer can prove to the satisfaction of the Department of Social Protection that it is unable to pay the statutory redundancy to its employees, and if it were to pay it, the outcome would mean the loss of more jobs from the company.  In order to rescue more jobs the Department has agreed to make lump sum payments directly to the employees who have been chosen for redundancy and they then will seek to recover the debt from the employer by invoicing them.  In order to be approved for this the company must prove inability to pay and the employer must submit documentary evidence to confirm that this is the position that the company is in.

For further information on this and other information on redundancy please click here.

New Completion Date for Migration to SEPA Announced
 
SEPA migration by Irish businesses is well advanced and it is estimated that 95% of all payments will be fully migrated to SEPA by 1st February 2014...

SEPA migration by Irish businesses is well advanced and it is estimated that 95% of all payments will be fully migrated to SEPA by 1st February 2014.

To enable companies who have yet to complete their migration to SEPA, the Irish Payment Services Organisation and the banks have agreed to extend the migration date to 31st March 2014.  All businesses are being urged to renew their migration pace and to complete the successful migration to SEPA as early as possible. 

Further information is available on www.sepa.ie.

Examinership ‘Lite’ – A positive option for insolvent SME Companies
 
The new Examinership legislation, sometimes referred to as Examinership ‘Lite’ to reflect its lower associated costs and its SME focus...

The new Examinership legislation, sometimes referred to as Examinership ‘Lite’ to reflect its lower associated costs and its SME focus, was signed into law on 24th December 2013, under the title of the ‘Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2013’. Examinership is a highly effective corporate restructuring tool, but to date SME Companies have struggled to avail of the process, possibly because of the onerous initial High Court legal costs.  The welcome arrival of SME friendly Examinership legislation is a ‘game changer’ in that regard.  

It is hoped that the new legislation will finally open up Examinership as a viable restructuring solution to smaller companies, where liquidation or receivership would otherwise be inevitable.
For more info please click here.

Change to Rates Legislation
 
New legislation has been put forward which will see that new businesses will no longer be stuck paying rates arrears from old tenants...

New legislation has been put forward which will see that new businesses will no longer be stuck paying rates arrears from old tenants when they take over a new premises for their company.  This Bill was included in the Local Government Reform Bill 2013 which was passed through the Dail on Thursday, 23rd January 2014. 

This will allow new businesses to take up new premises and existing businesses to change premises without the fear of having a massive rates bill hanging over them after they move in.  This change will have a positive impact on businesses all over the country. Under the old legislation, which dates back to 1838, tenants who left a property with rates due are not liable and instead the new tenant is forced to pay the rates arrears.

New DSP Provisions to ease Transition into Retirement
 
The Department of Social Protection has introduced a number of administrative provisions designed to ease the transition from the labour force into retirement...

The Department of Social Protection has introduced a number of administrative provisions designed to ease the transition from the labour force into retirement. These provisions may be of interest to employees who are due to retire in the near future.  From the 1st January 2014, an individual claiming Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance who is aged 62 or over, will no longer be required to engage with the activation process and will not be subject to penalty rates for non-engagement.  The individual can also avail of a range of supports (for example, training or employment support programmes) from DSP.

In addition, most jobseekers aged 62 or over will be placed on a yearly signing arrangement with their local social welfare office (this means that they do not need to sign on regularly) and most will be transferred to Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) payments so payment can be made directly into their bank account. Certain categories of older jobseekers may be required to engage more frequently with their local social welfare office. For example, casual jobseekers of 62 and older must continue to submit weekly dockets of their work patterns.

For further information please log on to www.welfare.ie.

Eye Tests – How often are Employers Obliged to Pay for them?
 
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations 2007 entitle employees to an eye and eyesight test before taking up work if it is habitual work...

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Regulations 2007 entitle employees to an eye and eyesight test before taking up work if it is habitual work with a Visual Display Unit (VDU), as well as at regular intervals thereafter.   These regulations are applicable if :

  • the employee has no choice but to use the VDU to carry out her/his work. 
  • the employee normally uses the VDU for continuous periods of more than one hour
  • the VDU is generally used by the employee on a daily basis

How should an employer determine these intervals and when is an employer liable for the costs of providing glasses? The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for enforcing health and safety at work in Ireland and has published a comprehensive set of FAQs in this area.

For further information on this area please click here.

SFA Webinar Series – Redundancy and Alternatives

This Webinar will cover the area of Redundancy and Alternatives and will be presented by Alan Sherlock, SFA Executive.

At the outset of the employment relationship it is the intention of the employer to provide sustained employment - however this will not always be possible due to a variety of factors.  This webinar will look at workforce reduction mechanisms and how they apply in a small business.

This webinar will take place on Wednesday, 19th February at 2:15pm to 2.30pm.

Click here to register for the webinar.

DSP Employer Briefings on Access to Financial Support
The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, TD, will be hosting a series of employer briefings at a number of locations around the country between...

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, TD, will be hosting a series of employer briefings at a number of locations around the country between 21 February and 14 April. At the briefings, DSP experienced teams will advise employers on the full range of employment and financial supports available to companies to grow their workforce. 

Information will be provided on the full range of employment and financial supports available to assist you to grow your workforce, including:

  • JobsIreland
  • JobsPlus
  • JobBridge
  • EURES
  • And employer supports available in your locality

For further information and to book your place please click here.

Building Financial Capabilities in SMEs Programme

The Building Financial Capabilities in SMEs programme is designed to help business owners improve their capabilities when raising finance for their firm.  The programme provides information on sources of finances for SMEs and how banks assess credit applications.

The two full day programme is supported by a business mentor with two one-to-one sessions following each workshop.  The programme is available at various locations throughout Ireland.

The programme cost is €250 (ex VAT) per person and is heavily subsidised through ManagementWorks.  The cost includes all training, mentoring, course materials and refreshments.

Courses will commence in February in Dundalk, Galway City, Castlebar, Cork, Stillorgan and Dublin City Centre.  Further locations and information is available on www.managementworks.ie

Taking Care of Business

25 State bodies will come together for free one-stop-shop events for small businesses in Limerick, Galway and Cork.  Events will allow small business owners to informally ask questions and get advice from a diverse mix of Government agencies.  The presentations   will   focus on the assistance available to  help entrepreneurs develop their businesses and key regulatory requirements.  Experts  will  be  available  at  the information  stands  to  speak  directly  to attendees and answer questions throughout the event.

They are half day FREE events which will  provide  local  business  start-ups  and  small  businesses  with the information  they  need  on the extensive range of advice, grants and other supports that are on offer to SMEs from Government agencies, to help people start and grow their businesses.

The events will take place during the spring in the following venues:

  • Limerick, 11th March, Strand Hotel
  • Galway, 25th March, Radisson Blu Hotel
  • Cork, 1st April, Silver Springs Hotel             

To register your place at one of these events please visit www.takingcareofbusiness.ie.

SFA in the Media
 

On Monday, 13th January the SFA Assistant Director Avine McNally issued a press release on the most recent business sentiment survey results.  “The survey indicates that the economy has stabilised, the challenge is now when the economy will commence to grow in a meaningful way. However, the business performance is encouraging and companies are looking to the future with an increasing sense of optimism.” To read the full press release please click here.

The weekend of the 17th January the SFA National Small Business Awards Masterclass took place in the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone.  “Thirty of the best small businesses throughout the length and breadth of Ireland undertook a Masterclass for being short-listed as finalists in the “SFA National Small Business Awards 2014”.  Avine McNally stated “In these challenging times, it has been great to see so many small companies positively focused on the growth of their businesses which really gives me confidence that small business will be the vital force in our economy in the coming years”.  To read the full press release please click here.

On Tuesday, 21st of January Avine McNally issued a press release on the SFA survey results on Late Payments in Ireland.  She stated that late payments in Ireland are compounding a difficult financial environment for many small firms. With the average payment in Ireland taking 62 days.  “Getting paid on time is a never ending problem for most small businesses. Late payment causes serious cash flow problems; requires firms to extend overdraft facilities and consumes a great deal of management time. This in turn affects the ability of the business to compete, be profitable and grow.”  Read the full press release by clicking here.

On the 23rd of January the SFA Chairman, AJ Noonan, welcomed the publication of the Entrepreneurship Forum Report.  He states “In the past many outstanding reports have simply become rhetoric because of the failure of the political system to embrace the entire thrust of what was being proposed. That type of response to this report will result in a piecemeal approach to addressing the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses.  There are now 200,000 small businesses in Ireland, with 13,000 new businesses being established each year. Entrepreneurship is alive and well, but must be nurtured and developed with a renewed focus from both agencies and government.”  Read the full press release by clicking here.

Patricia Callan, SFA Director appeared on RTE’s Morning Edition on the 3rd of February talking about the SFA National Small Business Awards Showcase Exhibition.  Also interviewed were two of the finalists of the awards for this years programme.  To see and hear the full interviews please click here.  (Interview is 1 hour, 32 minutes into the show).

Please click here also to see photos from the day of the Small Business Showcase with all the finalist companies exhibiting their stands to the awards judges.

 

 

 

 

 

SFA Business Bytes – Doing Business in China –FREE Seminar
 
Business Byte Image

This month's FREE seminar, titled Doing Business in China, provides an overview for Irish SME’s who are considering, or are at the early stages of, doing business with China.

As well as providing general introductory information on China, Chinese People and Chinese Business Practices, and an overview of what to expect when doing business with China, the workshop also provides specific examples and live case studies of Irish SME’s doing business with China and their experiences and learnings.

Content will include:

  • Introduction & Key Facts on China & Chinese Business Environment
  • Chinese Values & Beliefs and Building Relationships with Chinese people
  • Understanding Chinese business practices
  • Chinese Business & Social Etiquette
  • Visiting China
  • Importing from/Exporting to China
  • Case Studies & Examples

This seminar will be facilitated by Shumin Cao & Duane Byrne from BusinessinChina.ie.

The event takes place on Wednesday, 19th February in SFA offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2.  Registration is at 6pm and the seminar starts at 6.30pm until 7.30pm, followed by networking until 8.30pm.

As with all Business Bytes events attendance is entirely FREE OF CHARGE however you must preregister by clicking here.