Selecting the right share scheme
Selecting the right share scheme

The following Share Incentives practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Selecting the right share scheme
  • Types of schemes
  • Company objectives
  • Does the company want the scheme to be offered to all employees or on a discretionary basis?
  • Is the arrangement to be applied to employees only or employees and non-employees?
  • Is the arrangement to be offered to employees who are already shareholders?
  • Is the company a public company or a private company?
  • Is the preference that the participant is not a shareholder on the day the award is granted?
  • Is the intention for the arrangement to be tax advantaged?
  • Is the desire for the company not to incur any employer’s NICs?
  • More...

Selecting the right share scheme is fundamental to ensuring that the arrangement meets the company’s specific needs and objectives.

This Practice Note seeks to help identify a company’s specified objectives in order to ascertain the most appropriate share scheme arrangement for it.

Types of schemes

For the purposes of this note, the following types of share scheme arrangements will be analysed and considered in respect of each of the objectives:

  1. unapproved share option schemes

  2. enterprise management incentives (EMI) schemes

  3. company share option plans (CSOPs)

  4. share incentive plans (SIPs)

  5. save as you earn/sharesave (SAYE) schemes

  6. long term incentive plans (LTIPs)

  7. growth/value share arrangements

  8. joint share ownership plans (JSOPs), and

  9. phantom share plans

Company objectives

Below is a list of questions to help a company ascertain the most suitable share incentive arrangement to fulfil its objectives:

  1. is the scheme to be offered to all eligible employees or on a discretionary basis only?

  2. is the arrangement to be applied to employees only or employees and non-employees?

  3. is the arrangement to be offered to employees who are already shareholders?

  4. is the company a public company or a private company?

  5. is the participant not intended to become a shareholder on the day the award is granted—and if so, what is likely to be the trigger event for them being able to become a shareholder (for example, an exit event of the company or remaining

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