Employees can be awarded shares in a tax and NIC-efficient fashion through a Share Incentive Plan (SIP). SIPs are ‘all-employee’ in nature, so that employees generally must be eligible to participate. In this key respect therefore, SIPs are to be distinguished from the ‘discretionary’ EMI and CSOP schemes. The principal limitations to the ‘all-employee’ nature of the SIP are, essentially, that a plan may be restricted to UK resident taxpayers, and, further, to those who have been an employee for a minimum qualifying period (generally 18 months).

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