Schedule 3 SAYE option schemes: Linkage to Savings (Arrangement): Multiple options/savings contracts
It is not objectionable, in principle, for either:
- an option to be linked to more than one savings contract, or
- a savings contract to be linked to more than one option,
provided that the minimum monthly savings limits under both paragraph 25 and the SAYE Prospectus are adhered to. But it is not acceptable for two options to be granted in parallel and linked to one savings contract.
Granting multiple options to each participant and/or linking a participant’s option(s) to multiple savings contracts may be an advantage if participants have difficulty in keeping up their full contractual savings payments. It may mean they are still able to complete 3 or 5 years savings under at least one of the contracts and so exercise their options to that limited extent.
Schemes which require an option to be linked to more than one savings contract would not meet the requirements of Schedule 3. This may cause the requirements of paragraph 25(3)(b) to be breached (see ETASSUM34210) as a result of the £5 minimum per SAYE contract (see ETASSUM34210).
Where the scheme shares are in more than one company (for example under the “consortium” provisions of paragraph 18) the scheme rules may provide for:
- separate options to be granted over each company’s shares, or
- one option to be granted over a variety of shares.
In practice, for the reasons given above, it is likely to be necessary to link the relevant option(s) to only one savings contract.
If schemes are drafted so that more than one option can be granted to a participant on the same day, care should be taken to ensure that the “similar terms” provisions of paragraph 7 will still be complied with, particularly when considering the effect of any “scaling down” provisions (see ETASSUM31080).