Revenue Approved SAYE Schemes are a tax efficient way of granting share options to employees.
SAYE Schemes operate by way of the grant of an option to acquire shares, usually in the parent company of the group. These options can be granted at a discount of up to 25% of the market value at the time the option is granted. Options can be granted with a 3, 5 or 7 year term. At the same time as the option is granted, each employee enters into a savings contract with a Revenue approved savings carrier to save an amount between €12 and €500 per month over a period of three or five years. At the end of the savings period, the proceeds from the savings contract are used to fund the exercise of the option. The number of shares under option is determined by reference to the total amount of money which the employee will obtain on repayment of the savings contract. Generally, employees may exercise their options within six months of the end of the relevant savings period.
SAYE Schemes are established for employees of the company which set up the scheme, but can be extended to subsidiaries of that company.