HMRC's latest Employment Related Securities Bulletin focusses on the impact of COVID-19 on employee share and incentive schemes. Here is our enhanced version.

Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI)

HMRC are exploring issues raised by stakeholders in relation to Coronavirus and EMI and will provide updates as soon as possible.

Save As You Earn (SAYE)

  • Where SAYE scheme participants cannot contribute because they are furloughed or on unpaid leave, HMRC will extend the payment holiday terms.
  • Employees can already delay the payment of monthly contributions by up to 12 occasions in total without causing the savings contract to be cancelled. HMRC have said that where the additional months are missed due to Coronavirus this payment holiday will be extended.
  • Payments to furloughed employees where the employer is claiming under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) constitute salary meaning deductions under SAYE can continue.
  • Any temporary postponement of contributions will put back the maturity date by the total number of months missed, including additional months missed due to Coronavirus.

For example, a five-year SAYE contract was entered into on 1 January 2016 with a maturity date of 31 December 2020.

  • The participant temporarily paused contributions from 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2018 starting again on 1 July 2018.
  • In 2019 there was a further temporary postponement of three months.
  • As at March 2020, there was a total of nine months temporary postponement. This would result in a delay of the maturity date to 30 September 2021.
  • A further temporary postponement due to Coronavirus commenced on 1 April 2020. The participant then re-starts payments in September 2020.
  • The total months where contributions have been temporarily postponed is 14 months. Whilst this exceeds the 12 months permitted, as the additional two months were due to Coronavirus they are allowed. This delays the maturity date of the contract to 28 February 2022.

HMRC confirm new SAYE contracts are not required where contracts started before 10 June 2020.

Payments by other methods

  • SAYE participants who cannot make monthly contributions from their salary due to having to take unpaid leave during the pandemic may make payments via standing order but deductions from salary should recommence as soon as possible.

See ISA Guide

Share Incentive Plan (SIP)

  • Payments of CJRS to employees furloughed during the coronavirus pandemic can constitute a salary and SIP contributions can continue to be deducted from CJRS payments.
  • SIP participants are already permitted to stop their deductions from their salary but will not be allowed to make up missed deductions if they stop due to Coronavirus.

Company Share Option Plans (CSOP)

  • HMRC accept that where employees and full-time directors who are furloughed because of Coronavirus have options which were granted before Coronavirus, those options will remain qualifying on the basis they were full-time directors and qualifying employees at the time of grant.

See Employment-Related Securities & share schemes

Valuations

Coronavirus may have resulted in delays in granting EMI options which takes people over the 90-day period for which the valuation agreed with HMRC remains valid. HMRC have confirmed that, provided there has been no change that may affect an appropriate value then:

  • Any EMI valuation agreement letters already issued, where the 90 days expires on or after 1 March 2020, can be automatically treated as being extended by a period of 30 days.
  • Any new EMI valuation agreement letter issued on or after 1 March 2020 will be valid for 120 days.

You should email any issues concerning VAL231 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

See EMI: Enterprise Management Incentive scheme and VAL231: Request for an EMI valuation

Deadlines for registration of new schemes and filing of returns

  • HMRC recognise that some employers and agents may struggle to meet Employment-Related Securities (ERS) tax obligations due to the pandemic and will consider Coronavirus as a reasonable excuse for missing obligations such as registering new schemes and filing annual ERS returns.
  • You should meet these obligations as soon as you can and explain how you were affected by Coronavirus when you make your appeal.

See Shares, securities & options: Tax compliance and Employment-Related Securities: Reporting issues

External Links

HMRC ERS Bulletin June 2020 

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