Enterprise Management Incentive | Unlock Growth Potential

Are you a UK company with growth potential looking to attract and retain talented employees? If so, the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme might be the solution you’ve been searching for. This tax-efficient employee share ownership scheme offers significant advantages compared to other share arrangements. By implementing the EMI scheme, you can unlock your company’s growth potential while providing your employees with tax-efficient incentives for their hard work.

So, how does the EMI scheme work and what are its key features? What are the benefits of implementing the EMI scheme for both employers and employees? And how can you ensure a smooth and effective implementation? In this article, we will delve into all of these questions and provide you with valuable insights into the EMI scheme.

Throughout this article, we will explore the eligibility criteria, tax advantages, best practices for implementation, and real-life case studies that highlight the impact and benefits of the EMI scheme. Whether you are a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) or a larger company, the EMI scheme can be a game-changer for attracting and retaining top talent, enhancing employee engagement, and ultimately unlocking your business’s growth potential.

What is Enterprise Management Incentive?

The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) is a government-backed scheme in the United Kingdom that offers tax benefits to help small and medium-sized businesses attract and retain key employees by granting them share options. These share options give employees the right to buy company shares at a fixed price in the future, allowing them to benefit from any increase in the company’s value.

EMI schemes are popular because they provide tax advantages both for the company offering the scheme and the employees receiving the shares. For employees, there are often reduced tax liabilities when they exercise their share options, and for companies, there are potential corporation tax savings. EMI schemes can be a valuable tool for businesses looking to incentivize and reward their key employees in a tax-efficient manner.

How Does Enterprise Management Incentive Work?

The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) works by granting employees share options that allow them to purchase company shares at a predetermined price in the future. Here’s an overview of how EMI typically works:

  1. Granting Options: The company grants eligible employees share options, allowing them to buy company shares at a specified price (known as the exercise price) within a set period of time.
  2. Exercise Period: Employees hold on to their options until a specific event triggers them to exercise the options. This could be a sale of the company, an exit event, or a defined time frame.
  3. Exercising Options: When the triggering event occurs, employees can exercise their share options by paying the exercise price. They then become shareholders in the company.
  4. Potential Tax Benefits: By participating in an EMI scheme, employees may benefit from tax advantages when they exercise their options. For example, they may be subject to lower capital gains tax rates on any profit made when they sell the shares.
  5. Benefits for the Company: Companies offering EMI schemes can use them to attract and retain key talent by giving employees a stake in the success of the business. Additionally, companies may benefit from potential tax savings on employee remuneration.

It’s important for companies and employees to comply with the rules and regulations governing EMI schemes to ensure they receive the intended tax benefits and incentives.

Key Features of the EMI Scheme

The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme has specific rules and eligibility criteria that companies and employees must meet to participate. Let’s take a closer look at the key features of this scheme.

EMI Scheme Eligibility

To qualify for the EMI scheme, a company must be a trading company or the holding company of a trading group, with gross assets of £30 million or less. This ensures that the scheme is accessible to smaller businesses with growth potential.

  • The company should have fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees.
  • All employees must work at least 25 hours a week or 75% of their total working time for the company.

These criteria help to ensure that the scheme benefits companies that are actively involved in trading and have a manageable number of employees.

EMI Shares and Options

Under the EMI scheme, companies can grant EMI options over ordinary shares in the company. Each individual can be granted options up to a value of £250,000. This means that employees have the opportunity to benefit from the company’s growth by acquiring a stake in its success.

It’s important to note that the total value of options granted under the EMI scheme cannot exceed £3 million. This limit ensures that the scheme remains targeted towards smaller businesses and contributes to a fair distribution of shares.

“The EMI scheme allows employees to share in the success of the company through the acquisition of EMI shares. It aligns their interests with the company’s growth and incentivizes them to contribute their best to its success.”

Overall, the EMI scheme offers a tax-efficient way for companies to reward and motivate their employees through share ownership. The scheme’s eligibility requirements and restrictions ensure that it benefits businesses with growth potential and provides a fair and transparent framework for employee participation.

EMI scheme

Benefits of the EMI Scheme

The EMI scheme offers numerous benefits for both employers and employees. It provides tax advantages, promotes employee share ownership, and offers growth-focused incentives that can positively impact a company’s success.

Tax Advantages for Employees

One of the key benefits of the EMI scheme is the tax advantage it provides to employees. When employees are granted or exercise options, they are exempt from income tax and National Insurance contributions. This exemption holds as long as the exercise price is equal to or higher than the market value of the shares. Additionally, employees may benefit from a reduced capital gains tax rate of 10% when selling the shares, subject to certain conditions such as holding the option for 24 months.

Employee Share Ownership

The EMI scheme encourages employee share ownership, giving employees a stake in the company’s success. By granting share options, employees have a vested interest in the growth and profitability of the company. This sense of ownership can boost employee commitment and engagement, leading to increased loyalty and productivity.

Growth-Focused Incentives

The EMI scheme provides growth-focused incentives to both employers and employees. For employers, the scheme offers corporation tax relief on the value of the share options granted. This relief can significantly reduce the overall tax burden for the company. From an employee perspective, being part of an EMI scheme can be a valuable incentive to join or remain with a company. The opportunity to participate in the company’s growth and potentially reap financial rewards can be a compelling reason for top talent to choose and stay with an organization.

“The EMI scheme enables companies to attract and retain key employees through the provision of tax-efficient share options. It aligns the interests of employees with the long-term goals of the business, fostering a culture of ownership and commitment.”

The EMI scheme offers compelling advantages, combining tax benefits for employees, employee share ownership opportunities, and growth-focused incentives for both employers and employees. These benefits make the EMI scheme an effective tool for attracting and retaining top talent, promoting employee engagement, and driving the overall growth and success of UK businesses.

Implementing an EMI Scheme: Best Practices

Implementing an Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme requires careful consideration and adherence to best practices to ensure its effectiveness and compliance. Clear communication and transparency are crucial elements in successfully implementing the scheme.

1. Communicate the Scheme Details Clearly

To ensure employee understanding and engagement, it is essential to clearly communicate the scheme’s details, including its benefits, eligibility criteria, and terms and conditions. Providing this information up front enables employees to make informed decisions about participating in the EMI scheme.

2. Conduct Regular Reviews

Regularly reviewing the EMI scheme helps align it with the evolving business objectives and ensures compliance with legal and tax regulations. Keeping the scheme up to date and relevant can maximize its impact and effectiveness.

3. Seek Professional Valuation

Obtaining a professional valuation of the shares helps determine their fair market value. This valuation is crucial for setting the exercise price of the options and for complying with HMRC requirements.

4. Maintain Documentation and Administration

Proper documentation and administration of the EMI scheme are essential for compliance and transparency. This includes maintaining records of option grants, exercise dates, share valuations, and any other important scheme-related documents.

5. Comply with HMRC Reporting Requirements

It’s crucial to comply with the reporting requirements of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This includes reporting the grant and exercise of options, as well as any subsequent share transfers or disposals by employees.

6. Conduct Employee Eligibility Checks

Before granting options, conducting thorough eligibility checks ensures that employees meet the necessary criteria for participation in the EMI scheme. This helps prevent any potential issues or complications in the future.

7. Transparent Selection Processes

Ensuring transparency in the selection process for granting options helps build trust and confidence among employees. Clearly defining the criteria for selection and making fair and impartial decisions based on those criteria is important.

8. Tailor the Scheme to Business Needs

Adapting the EMI scheme to the specific needs and goals of the business enhances its effectiveness. Customization allows the scheme to address the unique requirements and objectives of the company and its employees.

9. Employee Education on Benefits and Tax Implications

Providing comprehensive education to employees about the benefits and potential tax implications of participating in the EMI scheme is crucial. This empowers employees to make informed decisions and fully leverage the advantages of the scheme.

By following these best practices, businesses can implement an EMI scheme that not only complies with legal and tax regulations but also maximizes its effectiveness in attracting and retaining top talent while driving growth and success.

Enterprise Management Incentive Scheme Example


  1. “Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI)”, Gov.uk
  2. “EMI – The Benefits of Employee Share Ownership”, RM2 & The Share Centre
  3. “EMI Share Options – A Simple Guide”, RM2 & The Share Centre

Case Studies: Impact and Benefits of EMIs

Case studies provide practical examples of the impact and benefits of Enterprise Management Incentives (EMIs). These real-life examples showcase how different businesses have successfully implemented the scheme to achieve their goals. Let’s take a closer look at two case studies that highlight the effectiveness and tax efficiency of EMIs in attracting and retaining talent while promoting growth in UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Case Study 1: High-Tech Company Retention Strategy

“Our high-tech company was experiencing significant growth and wanted to retain our top employees for a future sale. We decided to implement an EMI scheme to provide them with a meaningful incentive and reward them for their dedication.”

By leveraging the EMI scheme, the high-tech company could grant share options to key employees, giving them a material interest in the company’s success. This strategic move not only motivated employees but also qualified the company for substantial tax advantages. The tax-efficient share scheme incentivized employees by aligning their interests with the company’s future value and growth potential.

Case Study 2: Tax Savings for Employees

“We compared the tax implications of an EMI scheme with unapproved schemes and discovered significant advantages for our employees.”

In this comparative case study, a company analyzed the tax savings for employees under an EMI scheme compared to unapproved schemes. The results were compelling. The tax-efficient nature of the EMI scheme meant that employees could enjoy tax benefits, contributing to their overall financial well-being and job satisfaction. This realization further emphasized the advantages of implementing an EMI scheme to attract and retain talent.

enterprise management incentive eligibility


These case studies provide concrete evidence of the impact and benefits of EMIs for UK businesses. By implementing the EMI scheme, companies can not only attract and retain top talent but also promote growth through a tax-efficient share scheme. The EMI scheme offers eligibility for tax advantages and incentives that align employees’ interests with the company’s success. These practical examples demonstrate the effectiveness of EMIs in enabling businesses to unlock their growth potential while providing significant benefits for both employees and employers.


The Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme is a UK government-backed initiative that offers tax advantages to companies with growth potential and provides a tax-efficient way to motivate and reward employees through share options. This government-backed scheme has been designed to encourage businesses to invest in their workforce and drive growth in the UK economy.

The EMI scheme offers numerous incentives to eligible companies, including flexibility in granting options, attractive tax benefits, and the ability to align employees’ interests with the company’s growth. By implementing best practices and complying with legal requirements, businesses can take full advantage of the scheme to attract and retain top talent while promoting employee engagement and ownership.

To benefit from this government incentive, businesses must carefully understand the eligibility criteria and comply with the scheme’s rules. By doing so, they can unlock new growth opportunities and create a tax-efficient employee share ownership program. The UK government’s commitment to supporting SMEs through this government-backed scheme demonstrates its recognition of the importance of nurturing and empowering businesses with growth potential.

With the support of the UK government-backed EMI scheme, businesses can harness their growth potential, enhance employee engagement, and propel their success in an increasingly competitive marketplace. By offering tax advantages and fostering employee share ownership, the scheme actively encourages innovation and prosperity across various sectors of the UK economy.


What is the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme?

The EMI scheme is a tax-efficient employee share ownership scheme designed to help UK companies with growth potential attract and retain talented employees.

What are the best practices for implementing an EMI scheme?

Clear communication, regular reviews, professional valuation of shares, proper documentation and administration, compliance with HMRC reporting requirements, employee education, and tailoring the scheme to business needs are some best practices to consider.

What is the UK government’s role in the EMI scheme?

The EMI scheme is a UK government-backed initiative that offers tax advantages to companies with growth potential and provides a tax-efficient way to motivate and reward employees through share options.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *