Employee & Management Incentives

Our experts are able to advise on a wide range of Employee benefits. These include:

  • share option and other share based arrangements for example:
    • HMRC taxed beneficial plans including EMI, company share option plans, growth share incentive plans;
    • Joint share ownership plans;
    • Growth shares;
    • Employee shareholders status;
    • Long term incentive plans;
    • Deferred bonus arrangements;
    • Cash based and phantom share plans;
  • Employee ownership arrangements for employee owned businesses;
  • Structuring plans in a tax efficient way and advising on the tax impact for both employer and employee;
  • Institutional shareholder and corporate governance requirements; and
  • Overseas considerations and tailoring plans accordingly.

Our experts find that EMI Schemes are generally the most suitable for small or medium sized trading companies, fuller details are set out below. They give the holder a right to acquire shares in the company of which he or she is an employee.

EMI Schemes are attractive to companies who wish to reward, motivate and incentivise key staff; retain key staff for the medium to long term; and promote share ownership in the company in a tax efficient manner. For the employee they provide a prospective long term reward to stay with a company with highly favourable tax treatment.

The tax advantage for the employee is that if EMI options are granted at market value there will be no charge to Income Tax or National Insurance Contributions upon either grant or exercise of the options. Future disposal of the EMI shares, following exercise of the options, are subject to Capital Gains Tax and are also eligible for Entrepreneur’s Relief whereby individuals who dispose of business assets can qualify for a reduced Capital Gains Tax rate of 10%, provided that shares are sold at least twelve months after the date of grant of the option. There is no taxable charge to the company on the grant or exercise and, in fact, the company can usually claim a Corporation Tax deduction equalling the market value of the shares at exercise less the amount paid by the employee. There are no National Insurance Contributions payable by the employer. These schemes must be approved by HMRC and provide considerable commercial and tax benefits, subject to qualifying requirements.

EMI Options have to be granted for commercial reasons in order to recruit or retain an employee in the company and not for the purpose of avoiding tax. There are accordingly a number of restrictions imposed upon both the company and employee, a number of which are as follows:

  • The total value of the company’s gross assets must not exceed £30m;
  • The company must be a trading company, not under the control of another company; and
  • It must have fewer than 250 employees on the date the EMI options are granted.
  • An employee who is to be granted an EMI option must:
  • Be an employee of the company;
  • Work at least 25 hours per week or at least 75% of their working time as an employee of the company; and
  • Must not hold more than 30% of the shares of the company.

EMI Schemes are highly regulated by HMRC and require expert tax, accounting and legal advice before implementation.

Our team offer a free, no obligation meeting to discuss your business and your requirements further.

Our Experts

Neil Cook

Partner, Solicitor & Head of Business Services

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Hugh Craig

Consultant Solicitor

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Gerta Xoxi

Registered Foreign Lawyer, LL.M

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Victoria Simpkin

Paralegal

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