SFA E-zine – The Tuesday Edition

Dear Member, 


Welcome to this week's edition of our SFA e-zine.  


We have another great week of interesting articles for you.  We have the second part of our GDPR tip looking at data breaches, which will help to prepare your contingency plan. If you missed the first part of this article last week you can read it here 


We have a must read update on the PAYE modernisation that will impact all businesses. Our Business Bytes event in May will cover PAYE modernisation,  book your place now.  Tomorrow evening we have another Business Bytes event, Developing your business profile on radioThere are limited places still available so make sure to book now


This Friday is National Workplace Wellbeing day, and we have some simple suggestions for you on how to bring wellbeing into the workplaceThere is still time to sign-up for National Workplace Wellbeing dayWe also have an article for our members in International Financial Services on the new IFS apprenticeships helping staff to earn while they learn. 


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

Data breaches part 2 – Preparing your contingency plan

This week we offer a step by step guide on how your business can plan for and create a data breach contingency plan. Read on to learn more on how your business can protect its personal data under GDPR….

Last week we talked about how businesses should protect their personal data through their technical and organisational measures. This week we will look at how your business can prepare for and create a contingency plan in case a data breach occurs.


In recent weeks there have been a number of high profile data breaches in the news that are significantly impacting those businesses despite their size and scale. No business is immune to the devasting reputational impacts of a serious data breach.


When GDPR comes into force on 25 May, businesses will be required to notify the Data Protection Commissioner of a data breach if it poses a risk to the privacy rights of individuals. Also, if that breach causes harm to individuals such as identity theft or their data being harvested, the business must notify those individuals as well. Under GDPR individuals can sue for material and non-material damages if it is found that the data breach impacted them.


It is crucial to prepare for and have a data breach contingency plan in place now to avoid last minute panic or bad decision making during a crisis.


Step 1: Create a response team


Consider who will form the response team. What will their role be? Ideally you need people who are calm under pressure and who are great problem solvers to be able to manage the data breach. You should have someone from your IT department or outsourced IT provider as their knowledge and expertise in data breaches will be needed.


Step 2: Create a contact list for the response team


Create a contact list for those who are on the response team, who their stand-in person is if they are on leave or out sick. This contact list should be shared with all people within the business so that they can report all data breaches to the response team for assessment and management.


Step 3: Identify and list key experts


The contact list could include the details of the following key experts who will your help your business respond to and navigate the data breach:

  • Forensic IT support – they will be needed to investigate the nature and scope of the data breach and what level of impact it will have on the privacy rights of individuals
  • Legal counsel with data protection expertise – they can advise on how to manage the legalities of the data breach and to manage any potential claims
  • PR communications person – they would need to be able to both manage media queries and ensure that everyone within the business gives consistent messaging to key stakeholders, customers and the public

It should be noted that you do not need these individuals on an on-going basis but as a back-up in case of an emergency, but you should ensure that they are contactable on a 24/7 basis if needed.


Step 4: Assess the scope of the breach and document its impact


It is important to prepare guidance on assessing the scope and impact of the data breach which will be conducted by the response team and key experts if needed. It is essential that all data breaches are documented and analysed to minimise future data breaches. For example, small data breaches that pose little or no risk to the privacy rights of an individual are your warning signs that tighter technical and organisational processes are needed to ensure a bigger data breach does not happen.


Step 5: Communicate with the Data Protection Commission


If the data breach poses a risk to privacy rights and freedoms of individuals and you become aware of this, you must report it within 72 hours. The contingency plan should document how this will be communicated to the Data Protection Commission within that timeframe.


Step 6: Create your data breach communication plan


Prepare your communication plan, which should include the following:

  • Reporting the data breach to individuals who are impacted by the data breach
  • Notifying the wider public through various printed and digital channels
  • Ensuring that the messaging is consistent
  • How to manage media queries. It can be useful for key people in the response team to be trained in managing media queries
  • Consider if your business will need to implement a dedicated customer service hotline in case of a significant data breach

Step 7: Do a test run for a data breach


Many companies do fire drills so that all staff know what to do in case of a real fire emergency. It is strongly recommended that your business prepares for a data breach drill and test your contingency plan for its effectiveness and fine tune it so that you can be as prepared as possible if a data breach does occur.


GDPR will be one of our main topics of discussion at this year’s SFA Annual Conference so join us on 24 May and book your place now.


If you would like more information on GDPR or to discuss your requirements further, please contact Helen at SFA on 01 6051668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our GDPR section on www.sfa.ie/advice

Wellness week – easy tips to bring wellness into your workplace

Bring a little wellness into the workplace and learn more about National Workplace Wellbeing Day which takes place on 13 April. Let this particular Friday be a lucky one…

National Workplace Wellbeing Day takes place this year on Friday, 13 April and for those businesses taking part, this could turn out to be a lucky day for some. This is the fourth year that Ibec is running this initiative and over 500 businesses were involved in 2017. It is not too late to join in here and bring a little wellness into your workplace.


Even if your business cannot take part on 13 April, many businesses run a variety of workplace wellness initiatives throughout the year. They are cost effective and can be a great way of increasing employee engagement and wellbeing.


We share the top 10 Workplace Wellbeing Activities that businesses have done in previous years. Hopefully these will give you an idea of what to introduce into your workplace:


1.Lunchtime mile (walk, jog, run, cycle)

Many businesses organise lunchtime walks or other fitness activities. It could be as simple as asking someone who is passionate about running to set up a weekly or fortnightly run and see who else would like to join in. The focus of this year’s National Workplace Wellbeing Day is the lunchtime mile walk.


2.Healthy eating initiatives
This could be a healthy cookery class, a morning healthy breakfast or replacing high fat and high sugar foods with healthier alternatives.


3.Fruit bowls
Some businesses have opted to replace the biscuit tin with fruit bowls for internal and external meetings.


4.Mindfulness/yoga for staff
There are numerous holistic practitioners around the country that could offer a once off or short weekly programme to your staff on meditation, yoga and much more. Check out https://holisto.com/ which is Ireland’s largest directory of holistic practitioners.


5.Health screening
Many businesses offer a variety of health screening programmes that can range from blood pressure checks right through to a full health screening. They can be an excellent means of detecting and preventing larger medical issues down the line.


6.Nutrition talks
Another favourite of many companies is to invite a nutritionist to come in and give tips on healthy eating and how to change long standing poor eating habits.


7.Promotion of Bike to Work scheme

A lot of businesses are promoting the Bike to Work scheme to improve fitness and minimise those stressful rush hour traffic jams. You can find out more about the Bike to Work scheme at https://www.biketowork.ie/


8.Pilates/on-site massage
Some businesses operate a wellness day where a pilates or other instructor comes in and gives a class. Others have a massage therapist come on-site and offer chair massage to employees for a 15-minute session. It can be a great way to increase wellbeing and feel pampered.


9.Mental health talks
Organisations such as Aware or Mental Health Ireland offer training within the workplace to educate and bring awareness of mental health issues. Another service offering that is growing is sending interested employees to mental health first aid training which you can find out more about at https://www.mhfaireland.ie/what-is-mental-health-first-aid


Some businesses have started introducing smoothies in to the workplace. If it is practical, why not invest in a smoothie maker?


For further information on introducing wellness in to your workplace or if you have any other HR issues, please contact Helen Quinn on helen.quinn@sfa.ie or 01 605 1668.

PAYE modernisation – important information for all employers

A new real time reporting regime for PAYE will come into effect on 1 January 2019. This is the most significant change to the PAYE system since it was introduced in 1960. There are a number of important steps that employers should take to prepare.

What is PAYE modernisation?


Revenue is currently implementing a PAYE modernisation project, the most significant reform of the PAYE system since its introduction in 1960. Employers will need to calculate and report their employees’ pay and deductions as they are being paid.


The new real time reporting regime will be operational for all employee payments being made from 1 January 2019. This will require employers, agents and payroll providers to review their current business processes and practices so that they meet the new requirements. 


How should employers prepare?


In preparation for PAYE modernisation, employers should ensure that the correct current PAYE processes and procedures are being followed. In particular, you should ensure that you have registered all your employees and have received a tax deduction card (P2C) for each of them.


It is also important to check that you have the correct PPS number for each of your employees. Revenue is making available a new PPSN validation tool to assist with this; it will be available on www.revenue.ie from mid-April and allow employers to check up to 10 PPSNs at a time.


Revenue is contacting employers in relation to incorrect data and non-compliance that it has been able to identify, but employers should proactively review their own processes and data also. 


What support is available to assist employers?


Keep an eye out for a letter from Revenue this month explaining more about the changes. This letter will contain details of an employer helpline where you can access further support.


Many small employers who do not use payroll software will receive a customer service visit from Revenue from May onwards. It is important to note that this is not an audit, but rather an opportunity to receive support with the PAYE changes. 


In addition, save the date of 9 May for a free SFA Business Bytes seminar on PAYE modernisation. SFA staff and Revenue experts will be on hand to give you more information and answer your questions.


More information will be provided to SFA members throughout the year as the implementation date for PAYE modernisation approaches.

Wage Subsidy Scheme available to employers who employ workers with disabilities

Spotlight on the Wage Subsidy Scheme, which offers significant subsidies to employers who employ workers with disabilities to offset productivity shortfalls or additional management costs. This article provides information on the scheme 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.

Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS)

A cash subsidy for employers that employ people with disabilities for at least 21 hours per week, to compensate for any shortfall in productivity or additional management costs. 
There are three different strands to the subsidy – employers can benefit from individual strands or from all of them simultaneously.


Strand 1: A subsidy to an employer to make up the shortfall if a disabled employee has a productivity rate of 80% or less compared to other staff. The rate of subsidy is €5.30 per hour (21-39 hours).


Strand 2: A top-up grant for companies that employ more than two people with disabilities to cover additional supervisory, management and other work-based costs. The payment is based on the number of disabled employees from 10% (3-6 disabled employees) up to a maximum of 50% (23+ disabled employees).

Strand 3: A grant of €30,000 per annum to companies that employ 30 or more disabled employees to enable them to employ an Employment Assistance Officer (EAO).


The aim of the scheme is to encourage the employment of people with disabilities.


It is illegal to discriminate against any employee on the basis of a disability, in accordance with employment equality legislation. Sometimes, however, the nature of a disability can restrict an employee’s productivity in comparison with other staff, irrespective of their ability to do a job. The WSS allows employers that employ staff with disabilities with proven productivity rates of 50-80% to make up for the reduced productivity.


To apply, the employer and employee must contact their local employment services/Intreo office and arrange a meeting. There are forms for both the employer and employee to complete.

After the first month of employment, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the employer and the employee agree the wage subsidy to be paid.

The employer pays the employee the going rate for the job. The employer receives the subsidy via regular (generally monthly) electronic fund transfer.

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

  • Public service employers or any employers/schemes where wages are funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are not eligible for this scheme.
  • The conditions of employment are the same as for all other staff in terms of PRSI contributions, annual leave, tax deductions, contracts of employment and minimum wage requirements.
  • The employer must pay the employee the going rate for the job, as per any other employee.
  • Generally, the employee must give up their primary social welfare payment when they start employment under the WSS. New applicants to the scheme who are in receipt of Disability Allowance (DA) may, however, apply for the DA rehabilitative work disregard provided they are working at least 21 hours per week.
  • More information on the WSS is available here.
IFS Apprenticeships – What’s in it for your business?

The IFS Apprenticeship initiative, in partnership with NCI, is a new and innovative recruitment option for businesses operating within international financial services. 


An IFS Apprenticeship is a nationally accredited work-based programme designed to meet employers’ needs. Individuals will gain a recognised professional qualification, technical knowledge, professional skills as well as wider business competencies.


What’s in it for your business?

Talent - A new initiative to attract and recruit highly qualified and talented individuals with fresh ideas that can be tailored to specific job roles, making them flexible to the needs of your business.


Recruitment - Candidates are pre-screened and selected from a national panel which reduces recruitment costs. Training costs are covered by Government funding, making the IFS Apprenticeships an efficient and financially effective process.


Staff retention - Apprenticeships can help reduce staff turnover by increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty. This results in reduced employee absenteeism, reduced turnover rate and increased productivity.


Opportunities - A cost-effective opportunity to tackle skills shortages, improve the abilities of new and existing staff and retain a professional workforce.


Candidates will be pre-screened and selected from a national panel which reduces recruitment costs and as the training costs are covered by Government funding, the IFS Apprenticeships are an efficient and financially effective process. Companies can also place existing employees on the IFS Apprenticeship programme which will provide industry relevant training at no extra cost to the employer.


IFS Apprenticeships would like to invite SMEs within international financial services to hear from industry ambassadors who already benefit from this initiative. There will be an opportunity to speak to stakeholder to see how apprenticeships could benefit your business.


When: 24 April 2018

Location: Fidelity International, 43 Townsend Street, Dublin 2

Time: 3.30pm to 5.00pm


Please book your place online here 


If you have any questions or queries relating to the IFS Apprenticeships please contact Carol Kenna, Project Manager on 01 605 1631 or carol.kenna@ibec.ie 

Developing your business profile on radio
  • 11 April, Iconic Offices

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.

The next Business Bytes event will take place on 11 April at 6pm in Iconic Offices on Stephens Green.

As a business owner, you should be creating opportunities to be interviewed on radio, talking about your own business, talking about your industry, commenting as an SFA member and participating in panel discussions.

Every radio interviewer must introduce you by mentioning you and your company – that’s valuable publicity! - and every contribution you make adds to the perception of you as an expert in your area.

However, if you get it wrong, the opposite impression will be created. So, you need to know what you are doing.

Key takeaways:

  • How to identify opportunities on radio
  • How to pitch yourself as an interviewee
  • How to get others to create opportunities for you
  • How to maximise social media reach from your interview


Ellen Gunning is a director of the Irish Academy of Public Relations, a specialist communications college with 25+ years’ experience of teaching radio and TV skills, PR, journalism and event management in person and online, in six languages, across 50 countries. A regular commentator on Ireland AM (TV3), Ellen presents the weekly Mediascope programme on 103.2 Dublin City fm. She is a past winner of the European Parliament Journalist of the Year award.

The event is open to SFA members and non-members. It 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.

The event space partner is Iconic Offices. Iconic Offices are Ireland’s leading flexible workspace provider, with14 locations throughout Dublin city centre, from the beautiful Georgian streets and squares, to Dublin’s Silicon Docks.

PAYE modernisation – what every employer needs to know
  • 09 May, Bord Gais Offices

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.

Revenue is currently implementing the most significant reform of the PAYE system since its introduction in 1960. All employers will have to update their business processes to allow real time reporting to Revenue.

There are a number of actions that employers need to take now and throughout 2018, whether you use payroll software or not.

Date:             9th May 2018

Time:             17:30 - 19:30

Duration:        2 hours

Venue:           Bord Gáis Energy

Address:        1 Warrington Place

                      Dublin 2

Sinead Sweeney, Change Manager for PAYE Modernisation in Revenue, will deliver this session. She will help you to understand the changes that are being made and outline the steps you should take to prepare your business for a smooth transition on 1 January 2019. She will also be available to answer any questions you have about PAYE modernisation.

The event is open to SFA members and non-members. It 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.

For all queries on the event, please call the event organiser:
Briana McTiernan, Tel: +353 1 605 1622

SFA Annual Conference
  • 24 May, UCD Science Centre

The Small Firms Association is the trusted partner of over 8,500 small firms in Ireland. The SFA Annual Conference is our flagship event and helps small business owners and managers to keep up to date with the latest trends in HR, management and innovation provides an opportunity to come together to make connections and learn from each other’s experiences.

We  will see 300 entrepreneurs, owner-managers, policy makers and media gather together to explore how to create competitive advantage in the current economic and business environment. A mix of keynote addresses and panel discussions will focus on how small businesses can stay competitive, gain access to and retain talent and deal with new regulatory challenges such as GDPR.

To book your place please click here.

Foundations in Management and other upcoming training courses

Foundations in Management is just one of the SFA training courses coming up as part of our ‘Training that counts’ suite. All programmes are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience.

Foundations in Management and other upcoming training courses


At SFA, we’re here to help you create time for things that can make a real difference to your business, like developing management capacity and other skills for you and your staff.


There are a number of courses coming up as part of our ‘Training that counts’ suite of training programmes that may be of interest to you. They are delivered by expert trainers with many years of industry experience.


Foundations in Management


This programme aims to give managers, or those moving into management roles, the fundamental skills of effective management. Participants will learn how to improve their leadership and communication skills, how to deal with difficult staff while increasing motivation levels among those in the team.


The programme will give the participants the ability to deal with a grievance or disciplinary issue in an effective way.


On completion of the programme, participants will be able to:

  • Understand different leadership styles
  • Communicate effectively with teams and colleagues
  • Develop and improve key skills to supervise and motivate a team
  • Learn the essentials of dealing with grievance and disciplinary interviews
  • Distinguish between aggressive, assertive and passive behaviours and demonstrate ability to deal with it
  • Give effective feedback to the team and deal confidently with challenging situations

Date: 12-13 April (two-day course)

Time: 8:30am-3:30pm each day

Venue: SFA/Ibec offices, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Cost: €400 (SFA member rate)

Book here


Other upcoming courses

  • Finance and Accounting Made Easy (one-day course, 20 April)
  • Performance Management and Appraisal Skills (one-day course, 27 April)

One-day courses are charged at €220 and two-day courses €400 for SFA members. Courses can be booked at http://www.sfa.ie/events


If you would like any more information please contact Quelba Lima in the Ibec Training Unit on quelba.lima@ibec.ie or 01 605 1619.