Employee incentives

Tailored equity incentives and bonus arrangements are critical for recruiting and retaining key talent. Our team are experts at designing bespoke remuneration structures to suit clients' specific objectives. Offering practical, commercial advice that respects market practice, we have a wealth of experience and are valued for our innovative approach. 
  • Profile
  • Experience
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What stands us apart from other practices is the diversity of our client base. We work with FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and AIM companies, long-established private companies, start-ups, management teams and individual executives to advise on all aspects of remuneration.

Our expertise includes:

  • designing and implementing share plans and bonus schemes
  • guiding our clients through the legal, tax and regulatory aspects of extending participation in such arrangements
  • advising on reporting requirements and compliance with various remuneration regulations, including those applicable to financial institutions
  • assisting with corporate governance.

So whether you're a well-established organisation or someone looking to start up a business and recruit some key players, we can provide expert advice on the best way to incentivise your work force.

As well as our core incentives practice, we work closely with our colleagues in the employment team to advise on a plethora of mandates including:

  • structuring contracts for executives which comply with company law and corporate governance
  • advising on appointments and terminations of senior executives
  • considering the tax aspects of international assignments.   
We also support our corporate practice on the share plan aspects of transactions, and have particular expertise in designing share plans suitable for companies who are seeking a listing on AIM.  

"Stephenson Harwood’s employee share schemes practice is excellent in helping the remuneration committee and management navigate through the multitude of factors which influence decisions in this complex area and are a huge help in terms of practical and effective implementation."
The Legal 500 UK 2021

Financial services  

We advised a number of banks on the technical and practical implications of claw back, in particular in the context of new hires who are seeking to have their existing entitlements "bought out". 

easyHotel plc IPO

We advised on and implemented a bespoke share option arrangement appropriate for an AIM listed company and have subsequently put in place a tailored bonus plan. 

incadea plc

We advised on the first maturity of awards granted under a long term incentive plan and in relation to the impact of a takeover offer on outstanding awards. 

Estate agent 

We advised a well-known family owned estate agent on the introduction of a bespoke share plan to incentivise key employees, with a tailored exit strategy to enable award holders to realise value. 

Asset management group 

We assessed the merits of a judicial review claim in light of an HMRC challenge to the company's employee benefit trust. 


We assisted with a health check and update of ICAP's Sharesave Plan ahead of self-certification, and with the online registration of all of its share plans with HMRC. 

Diploma plc 

We advised Diploma on all aspects of its equity incentives, including guiding them through regulatory matters and the ongoing operation of their performance share plan.

Ariel Systems Group 

We advised the shareholders of Ariel Systems Group on its sale to ETX Capital. We advised on the unwinding of a complex incentive arrangement which had been put in place. 

Banking executives 

We advised a number of individuals employed in the financial services sector on the effect of a termination of employment on their bonus and incentives.  Also advising in the context of highly sensitive matters, including the impact of regulatory investigations.

Employee shareholder shares

We advised several clients on tax–efficient employee shareholder status shares including using growth shares.

Latest news & insights

27 Oct 2023

From Insights

Immediate end of bankers' bonus cap announced

The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have announced that the UK's banking bonus cap will be removed on 31 October 2023, ..


10 Jul 2023

From Insights

Are you correctly taxing termination payments to employees for disability?

Termination payments made to employees on account of disability are completely free of tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs). They are not subject to the £30..


01 Jun 2023

From Insights

FRC consults on changes to the remuneration section of the Corporate Governance Code

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has published a consultation document putting forward various changes to the Corporate Governance Code (the Code). This article l..


30 Mar 2023

From Insights

Good news for companies which operate tax-favoured share plans (and their buyers)

The Budget has led to some surprisingly good news for private companies which operate Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) plans.


08 Mar 2023

From Insights

PRA proposes smaller banks will no longer have to operate clawback on key staff bonuses

The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) has proposed that smaller banks will not have to include malus and clawback provisions in the bonus pay-out arrangements for ..


16 Nov 2022

From Insights

Investment Association issues its annual update on director remuneration in listed companies

Each year, at around this time of year, the Investment Association (taking over the role formerly operated by the ABI) sets out its remuneration expectations for direc..


11 Nov 2022

From Insights

EMI employee share options and acceptable discretion

HMRC has recently published guidance on the use of acceptable and unacceptable discretion in determining when shares can be received under Enterprise Management Incent..


30 Sep 2022

From Insights

Company Share Option Plans: mini-Budget announcements

In the latest Stephenson Harwood briefing by employee incentives experts Nicholas Stretch and Gruffydd Ellis, the pair considers what a CSOP is, what favourable tax tr..


13 Jun 2022

From News

Nicholas Stretch joins Stephenson Harwood as partner

Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has increased its employee incentives capabilities, with the arrival of Nicholas Stretch as a partner in its London office.


26 Mar 2021

From News

Stephenson Harwood advises Kroll on Redscan acquisition

Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has advised Kroll, a global provider of services and digital products related to governance, risk and transparency, on its acquisition ..


10 Dec 2020

From News

Stephenson Harwood advises sellers of Blackrock Expert Services Group on its acquisition by Duff & Phelps

Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has advised the sellers of Blackrock Expert Services Group on the company’s acquisition by Duff & Phelps, a global valuation and corpor..


03 Dec 2020

From Insights

Changes to the Investment Association’s Principles of Remuneration for 2021 and guidance on Shareholder Expectations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Investment Association (the "IA") recently published changes to the IA's Principles of Remuneration for 2021 (the "IA Principles") together with an update to its g..


06 Aug 2020

From News

Stephenson Harwood advises Civica Group on InfoFlex acquisition

Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has advised Civica, which is backed by private equity fund, Partners Group, on its acquisition of Chameleon Information Management Serv..


01 Jul 2020

From Insights

Enterprise Management Incentives share options: EMI option holders on furlough, unpaid leave or reduced hours due to COVID-19 will not lose tax relief

On 26 June 2020, the government published further amendments and new clauses to the Finance Bill 2020, and there is good news for the holders of EMI share options gran..


15 Jun 2020

From Insights

Furlough fraud: Key points for employers

HMRC will have the power to recover payments made under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the “Scheme”) and to impose penalties, under draft legislation which has ..


20 May 2020

From Insights

Salary and bonus waivers: tax pitfalls and practical issues for the unwary

This briefing considers the voluntary waiver of salary and bonus payments by directors and employees and summarises some of the potential tax pitfalls and practical is..


© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.