SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to the first SFA e-zine of 2019.  

Firstly, I would like to wish all our members a happy and prosperous New Year.


In this edition of our fortnightly news update we discuss how the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act will impact your business and how you can prepare for these upcoming changes.


I am delighted to announce that we have launched our new Grow, Scale, Succeed online platform. It has a wealth of resources to help small businesses find the right people, engage employees and embrace smart working into their business.


We advise on how you can prepare your small firm for Brexit and we bring you the most significant trends from our Small Business Sentiment Survey. We also link to the latest Ibec Quarterly Economic Outlook


We are hosting a series of Smart Business Workshops with Vodafone Ireland in Drogheda, Gorey, Galway, Cork, Limerick from 24 January to 3 April, I hope to see you at one of these events. The first SFA webinar of 2019 is taking place on 24 January and focuses on the characteristics of successful retailers.


I am pleased to launch 'Training Matters', our training courses for 2019 designed to address the needs of small businesses. These courses are an interesting mix of courses – online and off-line – to enhance key skills in your business. Now is the time to plan your training calendar for 2019 so get booking. These courses include three digital marketing masterclasses, the first event on 31 January is social media fundamentals for small businesses.


Get prepared for Brexit and hear from larger companies on how to open up new export markets  at the 2019 Business Connect event on 7 February in the Aviva Stadium, book your place now. 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 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
  • SFA Awards
  • Business Connect
  • Small business set to create 25,500 jobs in 2019
  • Small firms cautious as they enter 2019
  • Smart Business Workshops

SFA National Small Business Awards 2019


The SFA issued a press release on 4 December announcing the finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2019. This week this was covered in:

  • Donegal Democrat - 11 December
  • Fingal Independent - 11 December
  • Bray People - 12 December
  • Gorey Guardian - 18 December 
  • New Ross Standard - 18 December 
  • Enniscorthy Guardian - 18 December 
  • Wexford People - 18 December 
  • The Sunday Times - 23 December 

Business Connect


The SFA issued a press release on 12 December launching the 2019 Business Connect. This was covered in the Fingal Independent on 18 December. 


Small business set to create 25,500 jobs in 2019


The SFA issued its end of year statement on 27 December  announcing small business are set to create 25,500 jobs in 2019 and calling on government to step up ‘no-deal’ preparedness planning for Brexit. This was covered in:

  • The Times - 27 and 28 December  
  • Roscommon Herald - 29 December 
  • Business World - 2 January
  • Irish Independent - 5 January 

Small firms cautious as they enter 2019


The SFA issued a press release on 2 January with the results of our small business sentiment survey. This was covered in:

  • Irish Independent - 2 January
  • Biz Plus - 2 January
  • Evening Echo - 3 January
  • Leinster Express - 8 January 
  • Roscommon Herald - 8 January 
  • Fingal Independent - 8 January 
  • Tallaght Echo - 10 January 
  • Irish Examiner - 14 January

SFA and Vodafone Ireland launch campaign to help businesses stay ahead in a changing environment


SFA and Vodafone Ireland issued a joint press release on 7 January launching their ‘Smart Business’ workshops. The regional events will take place across five locations: Drogheda, Gorey, Galway, Cork and Limerick. This was covered by:

SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens was interviewed on the topic on 7 January on:

  • Newstalk News
  • Tipp FM
  • East Coast Radio
  • Kildare FM
  • Northern Sound Radio
  • Shannonside.
How the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will impact your business

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will be enacted in March 2019 and it will impact businesses in three areas. This article will prepare you for these upcoming changes….

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will be enacted in March 2019. It will impact businesses in three areas:

  1. Employers will have to give employees the 5 core terms of employment in writing within 5 days of the employee commencing employment
  2. It will abolish zero hour contracts in most cases
  3. It will introduce banded hours

Written basic terms of employment – what should businesses do?


The Act requires that business must give an employee five core terms of employment in writing within five days of the employee commencing employment.


What this means in practice is that if an employee starts work on Monday, they must receive the written basic terms of employment by Friday or if they start work on Thursday they must receive it by the following Tuesday.


The five core terms for the written basic terms of employment are:

  1. Full name of the employer and employee
  2. Address or principal place of business of the employer in the State
  3. For temporary contracts (fixed term / specified purpose), the expected duration / expiry date
  4. The rate or method of calculating the employee’s remuneration and pay reference (e.g.: weekly/ monthly) for the purpose of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000
  5. Number of hours which the employer reasonably expects the employee to work 1) per normal working day and 2) per normal working week

It is essential that the written basic terms of employment is issued for all employment types including part time, casual, seasonal and other types of working arrangements.


The consequence of not providing the written basic terms of employment or providing a misleading contract could incur a fine of up to €5,000, a fixed payment notice and/or a custodial sentence of up to 12 months in prison. The scope of the act includes not just the business but also includes a director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company. It also refers to any person acting on behalf of the company who has the authority to issue out the written basic terms of employment. In other words, both the company and individuals acting on behalf of the company could incur one of the above penalties.


The SFA recommend you carry out the following in advance of March to ensure you meet your contractual obligations:

  1. Have a template contract of employment ready – SFA have sample contracts that you can avail of for permanent, temporary and casual working arrangements
  2. On day 1 issue the employee the contract of employment even if they are hired on a casual temporary arrangement. The act also requires employers to issue the written basic terms of employment even if an employee leaves their employment before the fifth day
  3. Issue contracts of employment to all employees who do not have one currently
  4. Where required update existing contracts of employment to ensure that the normal working day and normal working week is clearly stated in all contracts of employment
  5. Ensure your managers or those responsible for issuing contracts are made aware of the risks if they fail to issue out or provide misleading written basic terms of employments.

Zero hour contracts


The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill prohibits the use of zero hour contracts and it requires that the number of weekly working hours in a contract of employment is greater than zero. Employers will not be able to use zero hour working arrangements unless:

  • The work is of a casual nature
  • The work is done in an emergency circumstance
  • It provides short-term relief work to cover routine absences

The bill has not defined the above terms and we await to hear how these exemptions will operate in practice.


Zero hour contracts are rarely used in Ireland and this aspect of the bill may not impact many businesses. Once the bill is enacted, for those businesses that use zero hour working practices for the above reasons, will need to be aware that if an employee is called in or rostered to work but is sent home due to no available work, that business will have to give the employee a minimum payment of 3 times the national minimum wage or minimum rate set out in any applicable Employment Regulation Order.


Casual or what is commonly known as ‘if and only’ contracts are still allowed under the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. This type of working arrangement is where the hours of work are offered to the employee and they can accept or refuse those hours. They are not required to be available for X number of hours of work. In addition, the minimum payment requirement does not apply to casual or ‘if and only’ working arrangements. It may be more beneficial to businesses to adopt this type of working arrangement rather than be tied to a zero hour working arrangement.


It is important to note that on call arrangements do not come under the scope of the minimum payment requirement.


Banded hours


The Bill will allow an employee to trigger a request to be placed on a band of hours that reflects their average working hours in the previous 12 months. Employers are required to respond to these requests within 4 weeks of receiving it. The bands of weekly working hours are as follows:


Band               From                           To

A                      3 hours                        6 hours

B                      6 hours                        11 hours

C                     11 hours                      16 hours

D                     16 hours                      21 hours

E                      21 hours                      26 hours

F                      26 hours                      31 hours

G                     31 hours                      36 hours

H                     36 hours and over      


An employer can refuse the request for banded hours where:

  • There is no evidence to the support the claim
  • Exceptional, unusual or unforeseeable circumstances arise
  • There has been a significant impact to the business either during or after the reference period
  • The average hours worked during the reference period by the employee was due to a temporary arrangement that no longer exists.

As this will have a significant impact on small businesses, the SFA will be rolling out more articles and webinars on this issue.


In the meantime if you have any specific concerns of questions please contact Helen on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit the advice section on our website. 

SFA launches the Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign

The SFA have launched their new Grow, Scale, Succeed online platform. It has a wealth of resources to help small businesses find the right people, engage employees and embrace smart working into their business...

In 2018, the SFA identified that recruitment was having a significant impact on its members. In response to this we developed the Grow, Scale, Succeed campaign. It has three elements to it:

  1. Recruitment – a series of guidelines, podcasts and videos to help small businesses in their recruitment strategies to find the right people
  2. Employee engagement – a mixture of videos, podcasts and guidelines on employee engagement and in the coming days we will be adding more content on wellness strategies from our partner DeCare Dental
  3. Smart Working – SFA partnered with Vodafone to bring you a series of guidelines and videos that you could bring into your business. Smart working is the combination of technology with agility and flexibility so your employees can work remotely. This could be at home, in a co-working space or a hybrid model of part office and part remote working.

We conducted a survey last October and based on the input we received, we produced content to help address the concerns you have around recruitment, employee engagement and smart working.


We received incredible support and amazing contributions from the team members of the taskforce and our partners Vodafone which you can access on the online platform.


Here is a taster of what the new online platform offers your business:

  • Case study videos from small businesses just like you sharing their recruitment tips, how they keep their staff engaged and how Smart Working benefited their business
  • A guideline on where to source new candidates – this comprehensive guide covers a variety of sectors
  • A guideline on the different types of workers – it details a variety of working arrangements as well as the different self employment options
  • Podcasts on creating your job spec, ways to engage your employee, how to co-create a culture, managing difficult conversations and bullying in the workplace
  • Our latest SFA training brochure details the tailor made courses for your business
  • Videos and guidelines from Vodafone on improving your connectivity and cyber security to enable remote working
  • A directory of co-working spaces
  • A checklist for working remotely – this takes you through a series of questions to consider for your employment law and health and safety obligations
  • A sample flexible working policy which includes remote working

We will continue to add new content to the online platform over the coming weeks and months. Our aim is to make it the go to website for all your recruitment and employee engagement needs as well as future proofing our members for the changing world of work.


We are also excited to announce that through our partnership with Vodafone, we are rolling out a series of Smart Business Workshops around the country. These will be set in a co-working space so you can see remote working in action and will focus on Smart Working and employee engagement.


The roadshow will take place on the following dates and times:


Drogheda                    24 January                  07:30am – 09:00am


Gorey                          15 February                07:30am – 09:00am


Galway                        28 February                07:30am – 09:00am


Cork                            21 March                     07:30am – 09:00am


Limerick                      3 April                          07:30am – 09:00am


The events are free but places are filling up fast so book your place .


In the meantime 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. 

Preparing for Brexit

The Brexit deadline is fast approaching, with the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU still unclear...

The Brexit deadline is fast approaching, with the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU still unclear. Brexit is a complex process, that has the potential to completely alter the manner with which Irish firms do business with the UK, yet its true implications remain obscured from view. Nevertheless, for all the uncertainties there are a number of measures that small firms can take right now in order to not only withstand the impact of Brexit, but also take advantage of it. A number of organisations and firms across Ireland are offering supports and services to help small firms prepare for and take advantage of Brexit. To read more on how you can prepared your small firm for Brexit see the latest edition of our Better Business Magazine.

Small Business Sentiment Survey report

Earlier this month the Small Firms Association released its Small Business Sentiment Survey report. View the most significant trends...

Earlier this month the Small Firms Association released its Small Business Sentiment Survey report. The survey was conducted in November 2018 amongst members of the Small Firms Association.


The most significant trends are as follows:

  • 59% of SFA members feel that the business environment is improving, down from 62% in 2018;
  • Domestic economic growth offers the biggest opportunity in 2019;
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents indicated their intention to recruit and invest in their businesses over the coming year and 
  • Risk factors identified were Brexit, the ability to attract talent and increasing business costs.

Thank you as always to those members who completed the survey.


We encourage you to access both the press statement and a pdf copy of our Small Business Sentiment Survey.


Please contact elizabeth.bowen@sfa.ie to discuss any aspect in greater detail or to request hard copies.

Risks on the rise in 2019

Ibec published its latest Quarterly Economic Outlook Q4 2018 on 7 January, which forecasts GDP growth of 4.1% in 2019. A positive outlook is expected for other economic indicators such as employment and consumer spending...

Ibec published its latest Quarterly Economic Outlook Q4 2018 on 7 January, which forecasts GDP growth of 4.1% in 2019. A positive outlook is expected for other economic indicators such as employment and consumer spending. However, growth will be weaker than in recent years as Ireland is now at a mature phase of the business cycle with the economy close to capacity and as cost competitiveness erodes. Also, the outcome of the Brexit deal will largely determine the economic fortunes of the country in 2019.


Key points from the Ibec Quarterly Economic Outlook Q4 2018 include:

  • Growth: Ibec forecasts GDP growth of 4.1% this year.
  • Consumer Spending: Growth of 2.9% in 2019.
  • Employment: Will grow by 2.5% in 2019. This will create 66,000 jobs.
  • Wages: Ibec’s HR survey shows that wages are expected to grow by 2.5% in 2019.
  • Inflation: Is expected to be relatively weak at 1.1% for 2019.

You can download a copy of the report here

Smart Business Workshops
  • Drogheda, Gorey, Galway, Cork, Limerick
  • 24 January - 3 April 

The Small Firms Association and Vodafone have partnered to help businesses grow, scale and succeed in a changing business environment.


Alongside Abodoo, Vodafone will share the benefits of smart or flexible working and how to implement it in your business to increase productivity and attract and retain talent through a series of regional workshops. You will also learn about increasing your profits through employee-led models from the SFA.


Set within co-working spaces, you will gain insight into:

  • The benefits of smart working and why you should avail of it
  • How technology can empower your business to work anywhere at any time through technology, connectivity and security
  • How to increase sales and profits by ensuring that every employee is a profit centre and loves what they do

Event details:

  1. The Mill, Drogheda, Thursday 24th January, 7:30 – 9am
  2. The Hatch Lab, Gorey, Friday, 15th February, 7:30 – 9am
  3. Portershed, Galway City, Thursday, 28th February, 7:30 – 9am
  4. The Republic of Work, Cork City, Thursday 21st March, 7:30 – 9am
  5. BOI Workbench, Limerick City, Wednesday, 3rd April, 7:30 – 9am

The events are free of charge and pre-registration online is essential. Places are limited so please book below now through the above links to avoid missing out.




Time Topic Speaker
7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast / registration/ networking  
8:00 – 8:05 Welcome Sven Spollen-Behrens, Small Firms Association
8:05 – 8:10 What is smart working?

Vanessa Tierney, Abodoo

8:10– 8:20 The four pillars of smart working Treasa Doran, Vodafone
8:20 – 8:25

Implementing smart working in your business

Vanessa Tierney, Abodoo
8:25 – 8:35 How to increase your sales and profits and engage your people Marina Bleahen, Engage and Grow
8:35 – 9:00 Q&A and roundtable discussion at the pod of your choice  






SFA Webinar: The characteristics of successful retailers
  • 24 January

On Thursday, 24 January from 10.30am- 11:00am Owen Clifford, Head of the Retail Sector in Bank of Ireland will deliver a SFA webinar entitled “Perpetual Motion – the characteristics of successful retailers”. 


Owen will demonstrate how the core principles of retail – knowing your customer, building & developing your team and progressive in-store investment remain a fundamental requirement of any successful business strategy in the sector.  It’s the execution of these principles which marks out the leading retailers from the crowd – are you maximising the potential of your retail business?


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.

Social media fundamentals for small businesses
  • 31 January

SFA are partnering with 3XE to deliver a Digital Marketing Executive Series for Small Businesses. The first event on Thursday, 31 January 2019 will be on social media fundamentals for small businesses. The three hour-long workshop will be delivered by industry experts in the world of social media marketing. 


Our aim is to give the audience a practical guide on social media on how to expand your network, connect with potential customers, engage with your customers and increase sales. If you feel you are not attracting enough customers from your social media platforms, then this the ideal event for you.

  • Date - 31 January 2019
  • Time - 9.15am to 12.30pm
    Venue - SFA/Ibec Offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2
  • Cost - €135 +VAT SFA Members, €185 +VAT Non Members
  • Package - All three Digital Marketing Executive Series events €345 +VAT SFA Members, €475 +VAT Non Members
  • Book online now

Who should attend:


This Masterclass is ideal for Business Owners, Managing Directors, Marketing Directors, Marketing Managers, Sales Managers, Sole Traders and Entrepreneurs.




Colm Hanratty

Colm has over 13 years experience in digital marketing. He began his online marketing career at Hostelworld.com, the world’s number one hostel booking website. During his time there he was responsible for establishing and growing their social media presence on a global scale. His work took him around the world as he produced award winning travel videos, guides and podcasts. His YouTube videos have generated more than 9.5million views to date.


Sandra Hennessy

Sandra Hennessy is the face and name behind Be Dynamic. Having started out working in the web world in early 2002 and since then has taken the plunge and set up her own business from her base in Tipperary. Sandra is well known in the online marketing world as one of the leading service providers of digital marketing training, consultancy and services in Ireland.


Felicity McCarthy

Felicity gained from her extensive digital marketing background at Facebook, eBay & Dell. Felicity now runs her own business, Sparkdigital, whose impressive client list including Daft.ie, Irish Times Training, Facebook EMEA, Pinterest UK, Grant Thornton Ireland, dylan hotel, AIB Startup Academy, Azon Recruitment Group, Bank of Ireland, IDA Ireland, Microsoft Ireland, 123.ie, Gigaset Europe & TopOil to name just a few.


SFA Digital Marketing Executive Series


This event is the first of three in our Digital Marketing Masterclass Series, see below details of the next events in the series.


28 February - Get more traffic to your website


The second masterclass will consist of a three hour-long masterclass from experts in the field of Search Marketing. Each of the experts comes with a deep knowledge of digital marketing and implement search marketing campaigns on a daily basis. Their knowledge and expertise in PPC, SEO, and all aspects of traffic driving methods is beyond question.


28 March - Increase your online sales


The final masterclass in this series will be a three hour-long masterclass that will focus on online advertising and increasing your business Conversion Rate Optimisation. Our speakers will be experts in the area of Online Advertising and will bring practical examples that can used in any company’s digital marketing strategy.


Who are 3XE Digital:


3XE Digital organise the best digital marketing conferences in Ireland. Every year 3XE host three conferences in Croke Park, each conferences covers a different area of digital marketing, e.g. Search, Conversion, UX, Social Media and Digital Transformation.

Business Connect
  • 7 February
  • Aviva Stadium

Get prepared for Brexit and hear from larger companies on how to open up new export markets 


SFA Business Connect is an exciting marketplace event designed to give delegates a window into the decision making and purchasing processes of Ireland’s leading companies.

2019 is the second year of Business Connect and will once again be hosted by Richard Curran on Thursday, 7 February 2019 in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.


One of our sessions will look at Brexit and opportunities in new export markets. Business Connect will provide cutting edge insights into the UK leaving the European Union from Ibec's Danny McCoy as well as expert advice from AIB, Enterprise Ireland and Multinationals.

An exciting addition to 2019’s event is the introduction of facilitated networking between delegates and purchasing decision makers in large organisations.

Registered delegates can put themselves and their businesses forward to sit down, in 10 minute slots, in front of decision makers in large Irish and multinational companies. 


Once registered for Business Connect, delegates will be invited to sign up for the Facilitated Networking and provide a few simple details to best match their business to potential purchasers.


The finalists of the SFA National Small Business Awards will exhibit at the event along with awards sponsors and partners.


Tickets are €49 for SFA Members and €99 for non-members and can be booked here

Training Matters - Essential skills to grow your people and build your business in 2019
Now is the time to plan your training calendar for 2019 – to make sure that vital upskilling does not get usurped by the urgent but non-important day-to-day distractions...

#]In 2019 the SFA is offering courses designed to address the needs of small businesses. Important versus urgent is a key distinction for small firms, but one which is not always easy to make.

Is too much of your time spent on tasks and meetings that seem urgent but are not important for the future of your business? At SFA, we’re here to help you create time for things that can make a real difference, like developing management capacity and other skills for you and your staff. The SFA training offering for 2019 contains an interesting mix of courses – online and off-line - to enhance key skills in your business.

They are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience. Based on your feedback, the courses are short, so that you can get on with running your business. Now is the time to plan your training calendar for 2019 – to make sure that vital upskilling does not get usurped by the urgent but non-important day-to-day distractions. Below are the training courses, dates and booking links. You can also find more information in our brochure.