EMI schemes & employee incentives

Successful employers know how important it is to attract, retain and incentivise the best people. Allowing key staff to take an equity stake in the company they work for is a very effective way to achieve these aims.

There are a number of tax advantaged company share schemes available, but many of our clients have found that the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) share option scheme is the most attractive.

As well as being tax efficient for the employee, EMI arrangements offer a great deal of flexibility to the employer as to which members of staff they wish to incentivise, the performance criteria they set for the scheme members and the protection the scheme provides for existing shareholders.

EMI basic rules

The employer

  • the employer company must be unquoted and not under the control of another company
  • the company’s gross assets must be less than £30 million
  • the company must be carrying on a qualifying trade
  • the company must have fewer than 250 employees (or full-time equivalent) at the time the options are granted
  • the maximum value of shares subject to options is £3 million, based on the market value of the shares at the date the options granted

The employee/director

  • the maximum value of options that can be held by the employee is £250,000, based on the market value of the underlying shares at the date of grant
  • the employee or director must be full-time or work a minimum 25 hours a week or 75% of available working time (whichever is the lower)

At Friend Partnership, we have many years’ experience in advising on, creating and implementing EMI schemes and other share-based employee incentives (such as the issue of growth shares) for our clients.

Please contact our Tax Partner, David Gillies if you would like to discuss employee incentives/share-based schemes etc in more detail.

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