SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member,   

This afternoon, Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, announced Budget 2018 in the Dáil. The SFA has welcomed Budget 2018 as a step in the right direction for small business.

Each week in the SFA e-zine, we profile a different government support available to small businesses. In this edition, we focus on the Go-2-Tender programme, which includes free and subsidised workshops to help improve your tendering success.

We advise you of a change to collective redundancy notifications and call on businesses to be extra vigilant during fraud awareness week. The application deadline for the SFA Awards is fast approaching, apply now to be in with a chance to win a prize package valued at €50,000.

Don't miss your last chance to register for the first Business Bytes of the season taking place tomorrow (11 October) focusing on the why and how of employee wellbeing. Avail of a SFA member discount to attend the Retail Ireland Summit on 12 October. Tune into the next SFA webinar on 19 October on workplace investigations and book your place at the Taking Care of Business event on 8 November. The highlight of the small business calendar, the SFA Annual Lunch 2017 is taking place in the Mansion House on 10 November - book your seat now. There are a few spaces remaining for our Project Management course on 18 October, book now. We also bring you 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 1602 or e-mail: sven@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.

Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director

Recent press coverage
  • Budget 2018
  • SFA Employment Law Conference
  • Your Business Live
  • Workplace wellbeing awards

Budget 2018

The SFA issued a press release this afternoon following the announcement of Budget 2018 by Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

SFA Employment Law Conference

The SFA issued a press release on 9 October on the SFA Employment Law Conference  that took place in Clontarf Castle. GDPR was one of the key topics at the conference, attendees also received information and advice on the Workplace Relations Commission, managing probation, lessons from employment case law and advice on discipline and dismissals. This was referred to in an article in the Irish Times and on Businessworld.ie on 9 October.


YOUR BUSINESS LIVE which is supported by the SFA and Ibec have announced a change in date for Ireland’s two day SME showcase, due to the scale of the event. The event will now take place on 10 and 11 April 2018 in the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin. This was covered in the Irish Tech News, The Irish Independent and The Herald on 5 October.

Workplace wellbeing awards scheme

A report on absenteeism carried out by the SFA in 2014 was referred to in an article in the Irish Examiner on 6 October on the launch of a workplace wellbeing awards scheme in Cork. The report found that absenteeism costs small businesses over €490 million per annum with 4,052,222 days lost in 2014.

Budget 2018 is a step in the right direction for small business
This afternoon, Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, announced Budget 2018 in the Dáil. SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens, commented: “Budget 2018 is a signal of support for the small businesses of Ireland...

This afternoon, Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, announced Budget 2018 in the Dáil. 

The SFA has welcomed Budget 2018 as a step in the right direction for small business. SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens, commented: “Budget 2018 is a signal of support for the small businesses of Ireland. These businesses, which employ half the private sector workforce, welcome in particular the announcement of the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP), the retention of the 9% VAT rate for the tourism sector and the introduction of a Brexit loan scheme for small businesses.

“The introduction of a tailored employee share options scheme (KEEP) for small business is an important initiative, which has the potential to deliver improved management capacity, staff retention and productivity. Currently, only 6% of employees in Ireland are shareholders in the company where they work, compared to the EU average of 22%. Our members are keen to see the detail of the scheme and to start using it to help their businesses to grow and reward their key employees. 

“Businesses know first-hand that the infrastructure challenge facing the country is acute, following a decade of under-investment. There were strong signs today that the quantum of spending is increasing and specific projects of strategic importance will receive funding. These projects must be progressed without delay, in order to enhance the capacity of the economy.”

“The Earned Income Tax Credit for the self-employed has come closer to parity with the PAYE Tax Credit, with today’s announcement of an increase of €200 to €1150. The SFA has fought for many years to end the discrimination that has too long been a feature of the income tax system; we will continue to campaign for the gap between the EITC and the PAYE Tax Credit (€1650) to close fully in next year’s Budget.

“There are, of course, aspects of today’s announcement which will pose challenges for small firms. Chief among these are confirmation of the 30c increase in the minimum wage and the risk of increased business costs through the rise in commercial stamp duty. Our members are also concerned about the increased National Training Fund levy; there are already concerns about the use of this fund and small firms will be insisting on much stricter deliverables in the future. 

“On capital gains tax, the Minister was notably silent. The SFA has highlighted that increasing the limit for CGT Entrepreneurial Relief must be a key element of Ireland's response to Brexit. Instead, the Irish relief remains uncompetitive with the UK equivalent, meaning we will miss out on mobile investment and entrepreneurship.”

Change to collective redundancy notifications
From 1 September 2017 Collective Redundancy notifications should be made to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1...

From 1 September 2017 Collective Redundancy notifications should be made to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1.

Statutory Instrument No 361 of 2017 provides for the transfer of a number of administrative and legislative functions relating to Labour Affairs and employment law, previously vested in the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, to the Minister for Social Protection. This Order comes into operation on 1 September 2017.

The legislative functions which will transfer to the Minister for Social Protection include the Protection of Employment Acts 1977 to 2014. Accordingly, employers should note that where an employer proposes collective redundancies, the notification required under Section 12 of the Protection of Employment Act 1977 and specified in Statutory Instrument No 140 of 1977 should be addressed to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection with effect from 1 September 2017.

For further information on collective redundancy you can review the SFA guideline or contact Ciara McGuone on 01 605 1668 or ciara.mcguone@sfa.ie.

Free and subsidised workshops to help improve your tendering success

Spotlight on the Go-2-Tender programme of workshops to help small companies successfully win government contracts on both sides of the border. 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.

Go-2-Tender Programme


Subsidised training for SMEs to help them to bid for public sector contracts in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Introduction to Tendering seminars are aimed at those new to public sector tendering or have limited knowledge/experience. They are free, half-day seminars targeted at micro-enterprises (less than 10 employees) and the content is focused on low value / below threshold opportunities. 

The more advanced Go-2-Tender workshops are delivered by experienced bid specialists and provide the necessary skills to bid for public sector contracts north or south of the border. They are ideal for those with some tendering experience who want to bring their skills to the next level and improve their success rate. The workshops are spread over two days with an additional half day of mentoring offered to each participating company. Companies are eligible for two extra days of mentoring to focus on internal systems / processes and potential bids. The cost for the workshop and mentoring is €100 per participant.


The all-island procurement market is worth over €12 billion annually. It represents an untapped market for many small companies. In recent years, the government has endeavoured to make public procurement opportunities more accessible to small and indigenous firms. A large part of this is through developing confidence, knowledge and practical tendering skills in those companies.


The 2017 schedule of Introduction to Tendering and Go-2-Tender workshops has been announced and there are a large number of sessions to choose from around the island of Ireland (click on the links below).

Companies can register for Introduction to Tendering via the InterTradeIreland website.

Companies can download an application form for the Go-2-Tender workshops via the InterTradeIreland website.  


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

  • Go-2-Tender workshops tend to book up quickly, so submit your application form as early as possible
  • The two days of the Go-2-Tender workshops are non-consecutive – they are usually scheduled two weeks apart
  • Mentoring with the Go-2-Tender workshop is optional, but highly recommended
  • For more information, visit www.intertradeireland.com/tendersuccessfully/ .
Don't miss your chance to win a prize package valued at €50,000
Less than two weeks to go to get your application in for the SFA National Small Business Awards 2018...

There are just two weeks left to submit your application for the SFA National Small Business Awards 2018.

The prize package for ALL finalists valued at €50,000 includes: 

  • An interview/profile in a specially commissioned Irish Independent Awards Supplement
  • Promotion in national print and broadcast media
  • Free participation in SFA Business Connect
  • A free comprehensive strategic masterclass weekend sponsored by Skillnets which includes communications, media and leadership skills training
  • Discounted participation on a Skillnets management development programme
  • Five complimentary places to the Awards Gala Ceremony

The category winners also receive: 

  • Award trophy and certificate
  • One year membership of the Small Firms Association 

Additionally the overall winner receives: 

  • A winner trophy
  • A bursary of €5,000 to present to a charity of their choice (funded by the 2013 Overall Winner, Megazyme International Ireland)
  • A responsible business practices check-up and action plan from Business in the Community Ireland.

The competition is open to all companies in Ireland with up to 50 employees and there are a range of categories to suit all sectors.

Entry into the Awards is free and the application deadline is 5:30pm on Friday, 20 October 2017. ENTER NOW

Fraud awareness campaign
Fraud awareness week has officially been launched and the SFA are calling on businesses to be extra vigilant. Fraud smart is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) in conjunction with Allied Irish Bank plc, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank...

Fraud awareness week has officially been launched and the SFA are calling on businesses to be extra vigilant.

Fraud smart is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) in conjunction with Allied Irish Bank plc, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank. The aim of this campaign is to raise consumer and business awareness of the latest financial fraud activities, the trends and to provide advice on how to best protect yourself and your business.

Below is an example of an invoice redirection fraud that occurred to an employee within their workplace. An invoice redirection fraud occurs when a business receives a fraudulent email claiming to be from an existing supplier advising of new bank details for payment. 

The SFA would like to direct your attention to this example and see how best to avoid it in your own working environment.

An employee received an email from one of their company creditors notifying them of new payment details. They updated the account information on their online banking. Afterwards, when the genuine invoice was submitted to them requesting payment the following month they thought that it wasn’t correct as to their knowledge they had paid. The email was found to be fraudulent after investigation. They informed the bank of the fraudulent incident to alert them. In this situation, the company lost money and still had an outstanding invoice to pay.

Follow the stages below to best protect yourself and your company in this situation:

  • Make a phone call to a known contact within the company that is requesting the change of bank account details.
  • Don’t contact the supplier of the invoice through any link or contact details.
  • Ensure to check email addresses and make note of any request to or connection with transferring money.

If you would like more information on Fraud Smart, please visit their website.

Employee wellbeing - WHY and HOW - tips for small business
  • 11 October

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.

Small employers take pride in their role creating local jobs and providing a good place of work for their employees. Employee wellbeing is emerging as a central component of this, with huge potential benefits for the individual, the company and society as a whole. However, much of the information and advice that is available on employee wellness is aimed at large organisations and is not easily adapted to a small business context.

  • Date: 11 October
  • Time: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
  • Venue: Bord Gais Energy, 1 Warrington Place, Dublin 2

This FREE Business Bytes event will explore the four main pillars of employee wellbeing:

  • Mental
  • Nutritional
  • Financial
  • Physical

Expert speakers on each area will provide options that small business owner-managers can try in their own companies. The emphasis will be on where to start and owner-managers will get lots of ideas that are relatively easy and not costly to implement.


The event 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 online.

Retail Ireland Summit
  • 12 October

The Retail Ireland Summit, the most important event in the retail calendar is taking place on 12 October in the Guinness Storehouse.

This year’s event gathers international thought leaders Andrew Busby, Retail Reflections and Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion and industry experts from local and international brands, including Fujitsu, Volvo, BWG and Aramark, to give you insight on the most important trends in retail.

The full agenda and speaker line up is available at www.retailsummit.ie.

The summit will focus on how to deliver unforgettable experiences to your customers and how to create theatre to engage your customer. Attendees will learn how experiential retail can be used to connect with consumers across all channels to drive sales and footfall.


SFA members can still exclusively avail of the early bird offer of €240 + VAT, a group offer is also available. For booking queries contact rebecca.thompson@ibec.ie.

SFA Webinar - Workplace investigations
  • 19 October

Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive, will deliver a webinar on Thursday, 19 October on workplace investigations. The webinar will take place from 2:15pm to 2:45pm, followed by an informative Q&A session.

The webinar will focus on the legal and best practice requirements when conducting workplace investigations. It is important that employers adhere to fair procedures and conduct an objective and thorough investigation. If carried out early and correctly, an investigation should contain a problem and minimise distraction from the business. The webinar will provide practical tips and advice for employers in conducting investigations and will answer some of the most frequently asked questions by members in this area.

Register online now for the webinar here

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. 

Taking Care of Business
  • 8 November

30 state bodies and services ready to give expert help

A free one-stop-shop event for SMEs, ‘Taking Care of Business’, will take place on Wednesday, 8 November in the Printworks Conference Centre in Dublin Castle; this half-day event is for those who own or manage a small business or are thinking of starting a new business. 

A range of State offices and agencies will give short presentations and will have staff on hand at exhibition stands to answer questions about key regulations and what assistance is available to your business. Areas covered will include:

  • Tax, employment and Health & Safety obligations
  • Legal requirements for setting up and running your business
  • Supports from enterprise agencies

The half-day event will be opened by Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald TD and also addressed by Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business, Pat Breen TD. Information stands will be open throughout, allowing you to speak informally with staff from each of the bodies attending. There will be three sets of presentations chaired by: Linda Barry, Assistant Director of the Small Firms Association; Mary Rose Burke, CEO of Dublin Chamber and Dr Donal de Buitléir, Director of Public Policy.ie.

The SFA will also have a stand at the event so please stop by. 


To find out more about this unique event and to register, please visit www.takingcareofbusiness.ie. Attendance is free but early booking is strongly advised as numbers are limited.
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, sponsored by Bank of Ireland will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Friday, 10 November at 12:30pm. 

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 per seat - book your tickets online now

Limited places remaining: Project Management one-day course, 18 October

The SFA’s Project Management course has been described by a 2016 delegate as: “Excellently delivered course with real life scenarios that I can bring into my role.” Book now for you and your key employees... 

Do you or your managers need to develop your project management skills?

The SFA’s Project Management course has been described by a 2016 delegate as: “Excellently delivered course with real life scenarios that I can bring into my role.”

Topics covered include:

  • Identifying the life cycle and phases of a project
  • Key communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ensuring deadlines are agreed and met
  • Delivering results every time


  • When: 18 October
  • Where: Ibec, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
  • Cost: €190 per delegate
  • Book now by clicking here

Other courses

Booking is now open for the following courses:

  • Project Management: 18 October (see here) or 7 December (see here)
  • Performance Management and Appraisal Skills: 14 December (see here)
  • Foundations in Management:23-24 November (see here)
  • Foundations in Employment Law: 30 November-1 December (see here)

The price for SFA members is €190 per person for the one-day courses and €370 for the two-day courses.

For all upcoming events and training courses, see www.sfa.ie/events