Share Schemes

Share and option schemes for employees and others

For employees, the EMI option scheme is usually the most beneficial but if the company or an employee is not eligible for some reason then there are other forms of schemes and incentives that may be suitable. 'Growth shares' and 'CSOPs' are good alternatives. EMI is not available for non-exec directors or consultants, as they are not employees, or for non-UK employees, but they can be granted 'unapproved options' or given growth shares. We have useful guides to share and option schemes which can help you choose a suitable plan - click here to download.

Sometimes our clients will use EMI for their UK employees with Growth shares or unapproved options alongside the EMI scheme so that they can also incentivise non-UK employees, non-executives and consultants or contractors.

We can help with the following schemes

EMI (enterprise management incentive) is the best share and option scheme for eligible employees - see our main EMI page here

Growth share plans – design and drafting of a particular class of employee shares which have an inherent lack of economic entitlements but with the potential for employees to share in the eventual growth in value of shares. Growth shares provide tax and funding cost benefits to employees and tax savings to the employer and can be combined with EMI for extra efficiencies or can be an alternative to EMI if the company is ineligible for such a scheme. Growth shares may offer significant savings where the current market value of shares is already substantial, through their ability to reduce the up-front unrestricted market value of the shares. More info here and see our Growth shares Guide here.

Company share option plans (“CSOP”) – design and drafting of CSOPs. Tax efficient HMRC tax favoured options but with relatively limited flexibility and valuation cap. Useful where options are preferred to shares and where EMI is not available (more information is shown here and download our CSOP Guide here).


'Unapproved' or non-tax advantaged options – design and drafting of flexible options which can be used for non-employees, as a top-up to other arrangements or as a stand-alone incentive. They are called 'unapproved' because they do not have any specific legislated tax breaks, unlike the EMI and CSOP for example (more information is shown here).