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Felicity McClintock

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A good way to incentivise employees in growing businesses

An Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme is a share option scheme that enjoys favourable tax treatment. These are specifically targeted at small, higher-risk, growing companies.

The scheme gives participating employees the option at a future date to buy shares at a fixed price (being the value of the shares at the grant of the option). So, if the company does well and the value of the shares goes up, the employee can purchase shares at a discounted price.

As this is aimed at small, higher-risk companies it is a way to incentivise employees to invest their time and skills to help smaller businesses to achieve their potential.

There are other similar schemes available, however this is the one most commonly used and is widely regarded as being the most tax-efficient. It is worth bearing in mind that not every company can use it as certain conditions must be fulfilled.

The tax benefits of an EMI share option scheme are as follows:

Grant of options:

• No income tax or national insurance contributions

Exercise of options:

• No income tax or national insurance contributions provided the exercise price is not less than market value at the date the option was granted and the option is exercised within 10 years of grant

Sale of shares:

• Capital gains tax (CGT) is payable on the difference between the sale price and exercise price with employees being able to use their CGT annual allowance. Entrepreneurs’ relief may apply if there is a period of at least 12 months between the grant of the option and the sale of the shares.

Corporate & commercial associate, solicitor Caroline Leviss advises directors, partnerships, SMEs, sole traders and national companies on the full range of corporate and commercial work. She has extensive experience, including mergers and acquisitions, company reorganisations, banking, venture capital and joint ventures, and is noted for her "calm and robust position under pressure".


Learn more

We are holding a breakfast seminar at National Star College on 7 November to help guide employers in young businesses on incentivising and retaining their key talent, as the business grows.  Along with EMI share option schemes, Caroline Leviss and Matthew Clayton, partner in our employment law team, will cover a range of ideas and topics. The seminar, aimed at entrepreneurs, business owners and HR professionals, offers an opportunity to refresh knowledge, network and share ideas with other professionals. Tickets cost £15 (including VAT and a light breakfast).

To attend this event please book via Eventbrite or alternatively email [email protected] or call us on 01242 542931 with any queries.