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SAYE share schemes may make comeback

20 May 2024 / employment Print

SAYE share schemes may make comeback

Lawyers at McCann FitzGerald say that employers should reconsider the benefits of offering a Revenue-approved SAYE (save as you earn) scheme to employees.

The firm says that the scheme offers workers a risk-free savings method, with the option to buy company shares in a tax-efficient manner.

In a note on the firm’s website, the lawyers add that SAYEs also provide firms with a means of encouraging employee engagement and improving staff retention.

Brexit effect

The lawyers note that, while historically a very popular scheme, the number of SAYE savings carriers licensed in the Irish market fell after Brexit, with the last provider, Ulster Bank, exiting the market in 2021.

“Since then, it has not been possible to establish or grant new options under an SAYE scheme,” McCann FitzGerald points out. 

It notes, however, the anticipated announcement of a new licensed savings carrier “before the summer”.


SAYE schemes work by the employer granting an option to all participating employees to acquire shares in the company. These options can be granted at a discount of up to 25% of the value of the shares at the time of the grant.

When the option is granted, employees enter a contract with an approved savings carrier and must save an amount between €12 and €500 per month, for a pre-determined period of three, five, or seven years.

At the end of the term, the employee uses those savings to purchase all or some of the shares granted by the option. If the employee decides not to purchase shares, all savings made during the term will be returned to the employee tax-free. 

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