Temporary changes to EMI working time arrangements will ensure that individuals who are furloughed or who have their working hours reduced below the current statutory working time requirement for EMI as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) will retain the tax advantages of the scheme. These changes will apply for a limited period and will have effect from 19 March 2020 until 5 April 2021.
The use of the EMI can help small growing companies to attract and retain sought after employees. The EMI allows employees to buy shares free of Income Tax and NICs on the difference between the amount paid for shares when an option is used and the actual value at the time.
The value of shares over which options may be held by an employee under the EMI scheme is currently £250,000 in a 3-year period. In addition, the shares must be in an independent trading company that has gross assets not exceeding £30 million, has fewer than 250 employees and operates a ‘qualifying’ trade.
Companies that work in ‘excluded activities’ aren’t allowed to offer EMIs. Excluded activities include:
- property development
- provision of legal services
- ship building