Employee Incentive Arrangements

Attract and retain top talent with employee incentives that align staff to your business goals, fit in with your company’s plans, constitution and shareholders, comply with regulations, and don’t break the bank.

Employee incentives that give staff a real stake in the company they’re working to build offers tangible benefits to both growing and established businesses.

But careful planning and expert legal advice are needed to make sure that your share plan can cope with future changes to your company and workforce, and takes advantage of whatever tax efficiencies and reliefs are available.

That’s where we come in…

Designing incentive arrangements for employees

Our multi-disciplinary team can support you with:

  • Advice on how a staff incentive plan can affect your company’s constitution, strategy and shareholders in the short-, medium- and long-term and how to optimise its impact. This is more important than some companies realise: awards made at an early stage by a successful start-up may still be in place and very valuable years later, on an exit or investment round
  • Choosing the staff incentive plan that’s right for you
  • The steps needed to put your plan in place
  • Any regulations that relate to your chosen plan
  • Drafting agreements
  • The employment law aspects of introducing an employee incentive plan
  • Obtaining any necessary clearances from HMRC
  • Tax reporting and compliance
  • Future rights of investors (such as under the EIS and SEIS schemes)
  • Potential impact on founders, investors and other stakeholders
  • Directors’ remuneration and other corporate governance issues

As business law experts, we have the skills and experience to help you choose the employee incentive plan that’s right for your company.

Types of incentive arrangements for employees:

HMRC tax advantaged share plans

Most suitable for small, high-risk companies, this scheme provides rewards for employees that help the company grow with very favourable tax treatment. Our expert lawyers can help assess your company’s suitability for an EMI plan, support the valuation process, draft the option agreements and other required documents, and assist in your dealings with HMRC.

Designing an EMI share option plan

We can help you evaluate whether your company is a good fit for a CSOP and prepare all the relevant paperwork including self-certification.

These offer employees the opportunity to purchase ordinary shares in your company at a favourable price. We can support the set-up process, including assessing your suitability for the scheme, support the valuation process, draft the option agreements and assist in your dealings with HMRC.

We can help you design and put in place your SIP, including setting up performance measures for staff, reviewing staff terms and conditions, liaising and communicating with employees and supporting ongoing compliance.

We can advise on the merits of selling your company to an EOT, and help you structure and implement the sale.

Set up an employee ownership trust (EOT)

Non HMRC tax advantaged incentive plans

Non-tax advantaged employee incentive arrangements do not need to meet specific legal rules like the HMRC tax advantaged plans mentioned above, so they can be quick and easy to set up. However, they may need to be structured carefully to attract the most effective tax benefits. We can work alongside you to determine if a non-tax advantaged incentive plan is right for you and help with structuring, set up and ongoing administration:

We can re-structure your company so you can make awards of ordinary or preferred shares to employees and advise on dilution, share classes and special rights for shareholders such as voting and dividend rights.

These arrangements work well for early-stage and growing businesses, but the conditions that apply and issues relating to company valuation need to be carefully managed. We can review your company’s suitability for growth/hurdle share arrangements, draft the growth/hurdle share subscription agreement, assist with company valuation and make the required amendments to your company’s constitution.

Growth shares incentives scheme

Using hurdle shares to incentivise employees

These arrangements don’t require HMRC clearance or company valuation, and the paperwork can be more straightforward. Our expert team can advise whether a non-tax advantaged share option or RSU arrangement is right for you and support you through the implementation process.

Who we help: High-growth businesses

High-growth companies tell us that finding and retaining top talent when a business is scaling is one of their key risk areas, and balancing the needs of founders, investors and employees (while managing cashflow and protecting working capital) is crucial, particularly when considering an employee share plan. That’s why entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs lean on us. We know how to get the balance right – introducing an employee incentive plan that aligns with your business strategy now and later down the line.

Examples of our work

Why choose Harper James Solicitors?

We’re a modern law firm with a difference. Our innovative remote operating model means that you can access expert City-grade legal advice from partner-level solicitors at a fraction of the cost of traditional law firms. Our senior solicitors have all been recruited from top 100 UK law firms or large international businesses. Our expert employee incentive lawyers include:

Pricing plans

Our three transparent pricing packages are designed to give you the widest possible access to high-quality legal advice, whatever the size and nature of your business:


Straightforward access to senior solicitors at a competitive rate.

An affordable solution for businesses needing one-off legal support. Receive ‘City’ partner-level expertise at a fraction of ‘City’ prices.


Have legal peace of mind for £189 per month with additional support from £125 per hour.

A monthly subscription legal support package specifically designed for start-ups and smaller businesses.


Providing you with priority access to a dedicated panel of highly experienced solicitors.

Fully account managed quarterly subscription service for businesses with more complex legal needs.

What our clients say

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A national law firm

We mainly work remotely, so we can work with you wherever you are. But we can arrange face-to-face meeting at our offices or a location of your choosing.

Our commercial lawyers are based in or close to major cities across the UK, providing expert legal advice to clients both locally and nationally.

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