Setting up an Employee scheme

Posted by Michael Derin on 07-Dec-2014 14:54:00

Employee share schemes (ESS) give employees shares in the company they work for, or the opportunity to buy shares in the company.

ESS are used in many countries as a way of attracting and keeping good quality staff by providing them with a financial share of the potential profits from success of the company.

Recently, a new scheme was introduced in relation to ESS. Under the new scheme, companies can do away with complex synthetic loan plans currently used and establish an ESOP with a simple employee option agreement. Legal and tax costs will be heavily reduced as there are no tax implications at the outset.

The long-awaited changes announced by the government go a long way towards solving the problem, which meant employees were taxed at the point of issue on share options rather than when the options were exercised. It’s not very attractive for the employee if they are forced to pay tax on something that may have never reached its proposed value.

ESS are a way of attracting, retaining and motivating staff as they align employees' interests with shareholders' interests. Employees can benefit financially if the company performs well.

Employee Share Schemes can be a great way to:

  • Motivate your employees to become more productive
  • Recruit or retain key employees
  • Compensate for lower salaries and relieve pressure on cash flow
  • Remunerate employees in a tax-efficient way
  • Increase loyalty and reduce staff turnover
  • Raise working capital

Choosing the best share scheme for your business:

  • Consider how much to spend on the plan
  • Work out the finer details of the plan, eg employee eligibility
  • What will happen if the scheme needs to be wound up or if the tax incentives change
  • How to value your shares 
  • Reporting requirements
  • Decide whether you prefer an approved scheme, with the associated tax benefits, or an unapproved scheme, which allows you flexibility of design.

To find out more about Employee Share Schemes and to speak to one of our specialist advisors, contact us at

Topics: Employee Share Schemes, Startups, Tax