SFA E-Zine – The Tuesday Edition
In this week's e-zine we bring you details of a case of a manager who claimed gender discrimination due to a company not providing top up to paternity pay.
Each week in the SFA e-zine, we profile a different government support available to small businesses. In this edition, we focus on the One4All Bikes4work scheme, a free staff benefit which offers a bike and equipment up to €1,000 tax-free.
We bring you details of a SFA meeting with Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath ahead of Budget Day and of SFA's attendance at the third All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit. Find out more about the government procurement working group meeting where SFA voiced member concerns.
Don't miss your last chance to register for the SFA Employment Law Conference in Dublin on 9 October. The first Business Bytes of the season kicks off on 11 October focusing on the why and how of employee wellbeing - register to attend now. Tune into the next SFA webinar on 19 October on workplace investigations. Avail of a special discount for the 3XE Search Conference on 19 October as a SFA member. The highlight of the small business calendar, the SFA Annual Lunch 2017 is taking place in the Mansion House on 10 November. There are a few spaces remaining for our Project Management course on 18 October, book now.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.
Manager claimed gender discrimination due to company not providing top up to paternity pay
The Paternity Leave and Benefits Act 2016 provided new fathers (and other “relevant parents”) with the option to avail of two weeks paternity leave within 26 weeks of the birth of their child. Since the introduction of this legislation, it has been questioned whether an employer would be obliged to “top up” paternity leave if they already had a practice in place of providing a maternity leave “top up” for fear of falling foul of the Employment Equality legislation...
The Paternity Leave and Benefits Act 2016 provided new fathers (and other “relevant parents”) with the option to avail of two weeks paternity leave within 26 weeks of the birth of their child. Since the introduction of this legislation, it has been questioned whether an employer would be obliged to “top up” paternity leave if they already had a practice in place of providing a maternity leave “top up” for fear of falling foul of the Employment Equality legislation. This issue was raised in the recent case below.
Area manager v a transport company
The complainant, an area manager with a public sector transport company, became a first time parent in January 2017. A number of months earlier on 20 September 2016, a company memo had advised employees of the newly introduced legal entitlement to statutory paternity leave and that as a result, the existing company's discretionary paternity leave scheme (which had provided for 3 days leave) was being terminated. The memo, issued by the HR Department, stated that employees availing of the newly introduced paternity leave would receive payment from the Department of Social Protection (DSP). However, the claimant in this case did not have sufficient PRSI contributions and as such was not entitled to payment from the DSP. He argued that as female employees were entitled to paid maternity leave, topped up by the employer, he was treated less favourably as a new male parent compared to a new female parent. He maintained this amounted to gender discrimination and took a claim on that basis to the Workplace Relations Commission.
On hearing the case, the Adjudicator Officer (AO) described the area manager’s equation of paternity leave with maternity leave as “misplaced”. Noting the special protection afforded to women in connection with pregnancy and maternity that is embedded in both European and Irish law, he said an employer is “entitled to make special provision for women at the time of maternity leave and is protected in that regard by the [equality] legislation under which the complainant was brought.”
The AO did observe that the manner in which the public transport company initially withdrew its 3-day leave provision without notice was an industrial relations matter which could have been handled better by the company.
Based on his finding that the employer is entitled to make special provision for women in connection with pregnancy and that maternity leave is different to paternity leave, the AO found that the complainant had failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the grounds of gender with regard to conditions of employment. The complaint therefore failed.
Paternity leave will be one of the topics covered at the SFA Employment Law Conference in Dublin on 9 October. For further information you can also consult the SFA guideline or contact Ciara McGuone, SFA Executive, on 01 605 1668 or email@example.com.
Free staff benefit: Bike and equipment up to €1,000 tax-free with Bikes4work
Spotlight on the One4all Bikes4work scheme, which offers employees the opportunity to purchase a new bike and equipment up to the value of €1,000 completely tax-free. The scheme is free for employers to introduce and manage, and involves minimal administration. This article provides information on the scheme and advice on how to avail of it...
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.
Health and wellbeing is becoming an increasingly important factor in our work and personal lives. Maintaining a healthy workforce is vital for businesses of all sizes, however it can be difficult to introduce meaningful wellbeing benefits to all staff, especially for small firms. One4all’s Bikes4work programme helps businesses take advantage of the Government Cycle to Work scheme, offering staff the chance to save up to 52% on the cost of a brand new bike and equipment.
A tax-free scheme allowing employees to purchase a brand new bike and equipment tax-free through their employer.
- Minimal administration for the employee and employer
- Improve your overall health and fitness
- Reduce your carbon footprint
- Reduce your daily commute time and cost
- Make your salary go further each month
- Free from road tax and insurance
- One4all’s Bikes4work offers the widest range of bike retailers nationwide, including exclusive access to Halfords stores
- Special offers when you purchase your bike through Halfords
Working weeks are continuously growing longer – Irish people are now working a half hour longer per week than they were five years ago – and workloads are ever increasing, often without compensation. This means less time for leisure, socialising, and of course looking after health and wellbeing.
Recent research from One4all has shown that one in five workers in Ireland say their work commitments regularly or frequently stop them from exercising or keeping fit. 41% said their work commitments occasionally stopped them exercising.
Looking after employee health – both physical and mental – can help increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, and even bolster staff retention. The Bikes4work scheme is free to introduce in your business and will be open to all employees.
From a government policy perspective, the scheme also has the advantages of reducing carbon emissions and relieving traffic congestion.
The Bikes4work scheme is offered by One4all Rewards. The One4all corporate sales team will be happy to help introduce the scheme to your business, and One4all manages the whole process to ensure employees receive their bike and equipment with minimal fuss and administration. One4all can also visit your business with a range of bikes to help your staff choose the right bike and equipment.
The bike and safety equipment is purchased by the employer and the employee covers the cost by means of a salary sacrifice over the course of a maximum of 12 months. He/she will not be liable to income tax at his/her marginal rate, employee’s PRSI or USC on the amount of the salary sacrificed. Employer’s PRSI is not payable on the amount sacrificed.
If you are interested in offering the Bikes4work scheme to your staff:
- The scheme is open to businesses of all sizes
- In addition to the purchase of a bicycle the following safety equipment also qualifies:
- Cycle helmets which conform to European Standard EN 1078
- Bells and bulb horns
- Lights, including dynamo packs
- Mirrors and mudguards
- Cycle clips and dress guards
- Panniers, luggage carriers and straps to allow luggage to be safely carried
- Locks and chains to ensure the cycle can be safely secured
- Pumps, puncture repair kits, cycle tool kits and tyre sealant to allow for minor repairs
- Reflective clothing along with front reflectors and spoke reflectors
- One4all Bikes4work offers the largest selection of bike retailers nationwide including exclusive access to Halfords stores nationwide and exclusive discounts and offers when you purchase a bike from Halfords
- This scheme can be availed of in addition to the Travel Pass/Tax Saver Commuter Ticket; they are not mutually exclusive
- The scheme is available to both employees and directors
- One4all works with SMEs to ensure the scheme is easy to run and promote to your staff
- For more information visit www.bikes4work.ie
- For additional guidance from Revenue, click here.
Employee wellbeing (physical, nutritional, mental and financial) is the subject of the first Business Bytes event of the new season, on Wednesday 11 October - find out more and book now.
SFA meets with Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath ahead of Budget Day
On 26 September, Sven Spollen-Behrens and Linda Barry met with Michael McGrath TD, Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson. Deputy McGrath is a key player in Budget 2018 given the confidence and supply agreement between his party and the minority government...
SFA attends third All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit
The SFA team is continuing an intensive programme of engagement with policy makers on the small business priorities for Budget 2018.
On 26 September, Sven Spollen-Behrens and Linda Barry met with Michael McGrath TD, Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson. Deputy McGrath is a key player in Budget 2018 given the confidence and supply agreement between his party and the minority government.
The SFA team presented the SFA’s four priorities for Budget 2018 – on income tax credits for the self-employed, employee share options, capital gains tax and infrastructure investment. More information on the SFA positions can be found here.
We also discussed the need to reduce the marginal tax rate in Ireland and the challenges for small businesses posed by increases in the minimum wage.
Budget 2018 will be announced by Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in the Dáil on 10 October.
The SFA attended the third plenary meeting of the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit, hosted by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadakar TD and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Simon Coveney TD on 27 September in the Royal Hospital Kilmainhaim, Dublin...
The SFA attended the third plenary meeting of the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit, hosted by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadakar TD and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Simon Coveney TD on 27 September in the Royal Hospital Kilmainhaim, Dublin.
The All-Island Civic Dialogue is organised to have the widest possible conversation about the implications of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. Since the launch of the All-Island Civic Dialogue in November 2016, views have been heard from over 1,500 civic society and industry representatives from across the island about the challenges presented by the UK exit from the EU.
The third plenary session provided the participants with an update on the ongoing EU-UK negotiations, including the all-island aspects, and considered how both businesses and communities can prepare for Brexit. It also provided an opportunity to update the public on the government’s work that has taken place over the last few months.
If you have a query regarding Brexit please contact SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01 605 1602.
SFA raises member concerns at government procurement working group
At the latest meeting of the government’s Working Group on SME Access to Public Procurement, the SFA drew attention to high rate of cancellation/non-progression of tenders after companies have invested valuable resources in developing their bid...
Last week, the SFA participated in the latest meeting of the government’s Working Group on SME Access to Public Procurement. The group brings together a range of stakeholders on this issue, including the government Chief Procurement Officer; officials from the Office of Government Procurement, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland; and a number of business groups.
The meeting was chaired by Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan; it was his first meeting in the chair since being named Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment in June. The Minister was keen to hear the obstacles that exist for small businesses in accessing public contracts.
One issue that the SFA put onto the agenda was the high rate of cancellation/non-progression of tenders after companies have invested valuable resources in developing their bid. There has been a sharp increase in situations of this nature reported to SFA, including outright cancellation of competitions, non-progression of competitions without official cancellation, firms succeeding in being named as a framework supplier but no mini-competitions arising and companies being awarded a contract but the start date being postponed indefinitely. The SFA emphasised that there is a significant cost to small companies in bidding for contracts, including a notable opportunity cost, and they have a reasonable expectation of the competition/contract proceeding as advertised.
The Office of Government Procurement responded that there are a range of reasons that these scenarios may arise. Officials committed to reporting back to the group with more information including statistics around this issue. They also encouraged representative bodies to refer specific cases to them as they arise.
If you would like to discuss any public procurement issues with the SFA or would like us to bring an issue to the attention of government on your behalf, contact Linda Barry, SFA Assistant Director, on 01 605 1626 or email@example.com.
Final Call- SFA Employment Law Conference
- Dublin - Clontarf Castle - 9 October
We are delighted to confirm that Oonagh Buckely, Director-General of the Workplace Relations Commission will be speaking at this year’s SFA Employment Law Conference.
Oonagh Buckley is a qualified barrister. Prior to her appointment as Director General to the WRC, she worked in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and was responsible for pay and pensions policy for the Irish public service and led the Government team in all the major pay and industrial relations negotiations in recent years.
The Workplace Relations Act 2015 introduced sweeping changes to the legal structures affecting small businesses. Attendees at the conference will have the opportunity to get a unique insight from the Director-General about how these changes have been implemented two years on and the main challenges they present for employers.
The full agenda for the day can be found here.
When and where?
- Clontarf Castle, Castle Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3
- To secure your place(s) book online now.
Who should attend?
All owner managers, managers in small businesses and HR professionals who need to build their competence and confidence in the vital area of employment legislation.
SFA Member rate: €190 + VAT @ 23% (€233.70)
Employee wellbeing - WHY and HOW - tips for small business
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:
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.
SFA Webinar - Workplace investigations
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.
Book now - SFA Annual Lunch 2017
In 2017 search marketing continues to be the biggest and most powerful form of digital marketing.
Join 600 digital marketing experts at 3XE Search - the most international 3XE conference on 19 October in Croke Park, Dublin.
- Connect with the world-class speakers, industry innovators and trend disruptors.
- Learn the tricks of the trade for 2018 and beyond.
- Improve your leads and convert them to sales
Limited number of tickets available. SFA members can avail of a 25% off discount using code SFA3XE, book now to avoid disappointment.
- 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.
Last 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
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