HMRC Guidance And Your Employee Share Plans
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HMRC Guidance And Your Employee Share Plans

16 June 2020

HMRC published their latest ERS Bulletin on 8 June 2020, providing information on issues raised concerning coronavirus.

Amongst other things, they have confirmed that payments of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to employees furloughed during the coronavirus pandemic can constitute a salary allowing SAYE and SIP contributions to continue to be deducted from these payments. 

Other updates include: 

Deadlines for registration of new schemes and filing of ERS annual tax returns

HMRC recognises that some employers and agents may struggle to meet ERS tax obligations due to coronavirus. HMRC will consider coronavirus as a reasonable excuse for missing some tax obligations.

We are pleased to report no impact on the timeframes for producing ERS tax returns, and we will support all our clients to meet the 6 July deadline. 

SAYE – Savings Prospectus change impacting payment holiday terms

For participants on furlough or unpaid leave and therefore unable to contribute to SAYE, HMRC will extend the payment holiday terms.  

The savings Prospectus allows employees to delay the payment of monthly contributions by up to 12 occasions in total. The new SAYE Prospectus (to be used from 10 June 2020) allows contributions to be postponed for an extended period where the additional months are missed due to coronavirus. Any temporary postponement of contributions will put back the three or five-year maturity date by the total number of months missed, including any additional months missed as a direct result of the impact of coronavirus. 

We have updated participant Terms and Conditions and these, along with the new Prospectus, will be issued for forthcoming new launches. 

Although updated SAYE contracts do not need to be issued to employees with an existing savings contract, this additional section to the Prospectus will still apply. We have, therefore, added a new section to our ‘missed contributions’ letters to explain the extension, asking employees to contact our Customer Experience Centre if they wish to extend their contract. We are reviewing how this change will impact administration processes. 

SAYE - Payments by other methods

For participants who find themselves unable to make SAYE contributions from their salary, due to having to take unpaid leave during the coronavirus pandemic, HMRC will permit payments to be made via standing order. 

This is good news, and we have already received requests from employees who wish to do this. Our Customer Experience Centre Representatives have been briefed on this change and can help your employees. 

Company Share Option Plans and furloughed employees and full-time directors

HMRC accepts that options granted before the coronavirus to employees and full-time directors who have since been furloughed will still qualify, on the basis they were full-time directors and qualifying employees at the time of grant. 

EMI valuations

Where HMRC agrees on valuations, the options currently need to be granted within 90 days. 

Coronavirus may lead to situations where there have been delays in granting EMI options which takes people over the 90 day limit. Provided that there has been no change that may affect an appropriate value then: 

  • any EMI valuation agreement letter already issued, where the 90 days expires on or after the 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 

If you have questions or require any form of support from us, please don't hesitate to contact your Relationship Manager or me, Jennifer Rudman, Industry Director, Employee Plans, jennifer.rudman@equiniti.com.