Employee Stock Option Scheme
The term ‘Employee Stock Option’ (ESOP) has been defined under Sub-section (37) of Section 2 of the Companies Act, 2013, according to which “employees’ stock option” means the option given to the directors, officers or employees of a company or of its holding company or subsidiary company or companies, if any, which gives such directors, officers or employees, the benefit or right to purchase, or to subscribe for, the shares of the company at a future date at a pre-determined price.
As discussed earlier, Section 62(1)(b) provides that a company may issue further shares to its employees under a scheme of employees’ stock option, subject to special resolution passed by company and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed. Rule 12 of Companies (Share Capital and Debentures) Rules, 2014 with regard to issue of Employee stock options covers issue of ESOPs.
Rule 12 of Companies((Share Capital and Debentures) Rules, 2014 with regard to issue of Employee stock options
A company, other than a listed company, which is not required to comply with Securities and Exchange Board of India Employee Stock Option Scheme Guidelines shall not offer shares to its employees under a scheme of employees’ stock option (hereinafter referred to as “Employees Stock Option Scheme”), unless it complies with the following requirements, namely:-
(i) the issue of Employees Stock Option Scheme has been approved by the shareholders of the company by passing a special resolution.
Who is an employee for the purpose of Section 62(1)(b)
(a) a permanent employee of the company who has been working in India or outside India; or
(b) a director of the company, whether a whole time director or not but excluding an independent director; or
(c) an employee as defined in clauses (a) or (b) of a subsidiary, in India or outside India, or of a holding company of the company or of an associate company
but does not include-
Disclosures in explanatory statement
Rule 12 (2) states that the company shall make the following disclosures in the explanatory statement annexed to the notice for passing of the resolution
(a) total number of stock options to be granted;
(b) identification of classes of employees entitled to participate in the Employees Stock Option Scheme;
(c) the appraisal process for determining the eligibility of employees to the Employees Stock Option Scheme;
(d) the requirements of vesting and period of vesting;
(e) the maximum period within which the options shall be vested;
(f) the exercise price or the formula for arriving at the same;
(g) the exercise period and process of exercise;
(h) the Lock-in period, if any ;
(i) the maximum number of options to be granted per employee and in aggregate;
(j) the method which the company shall use to value its options;
(k) the conditions under which option vested in employees may lapse e.g. in case of termination of employment for misconduct;
(l) the specified time period within which the employee shall exercise the vested options in the event of a proposed termination of employment or resignation of employee; and
(m) a statement to the effect that the company shall comply with the applicable accounting standards.
Free pricing in conformity with accounting policies
Rule 12(3) states that the companies granting option to its employees pursuant to Employees Stock Option Scheme will have the freedom to determine the exercise price in conformity with the applicable accounting policies, if any.
Separate resolution for granting options to employees of holding/subsidiary companies etc in certain cases
Rule 12 (4) states that the approval of shareholders by way of separate resolution shall be obtained by the company in case of-
(a) grant of option to employees of subsidiary or holding company; or
(b) grant of option to identified employees, during any one year, equal to or exceeding one percent of the issued capital (excluding outstanding warrants and conversions) of the company at the time of grant of option.
Varying the terms of ESOP requires special resolution
Rule 12(5)(a) The company may by special resolution, vary the terms of Employees Stock Option Scheme not yet exercised by the employees provided such variation is not prejudicial to the interests of the option holders. The notice for passing special resolution for variation of terms of Employees Stock Option Scheme shall disclose full of the variation, the rationale therefor, and the details of the employees who are beneficiaries of such variation.
Minimum one year vesting period
Rule 12 (6)(a) states that there shall be a minimum period of one year between the grant of options and vesting of option. In a case where options are granted by a company under its Employees Stock Option Scheme in lieu of options held by the same person under an Employees Stock Option Scheme in another company, which has merged or amalgamated with the first mentioned company, the period during which the options granted by the merging or amalgamating company were held by him shall be adjusted against the minimum vesting period required under this clause;
Company has freedom to specify lock-in period
Rule 12(6)(b) states that the company shall have the freedom to specify the lock-in period for the shares issued pursuant to exercise of option.
No right of dividend or voting till exercise of option
Rule 12(6)(c) states that the Employees shall not have right to receive any dividend or to vote or in any manner enjoy the benefits of a shareholder in respect of option granted to them, till shares are issued on exercise of option.
Rule 12(7) states that the The amount, if any, payable by the employees, at the time of grant of option -
(a) may be forfeited by the company if the option is not exercised by the employees within the exercise period; or
(b) the amount may be refunded to the employees if the options are not vested due to non-fulfillment of conditions relating to vesting of option as per the Employees Stock Option Scheme.
Rule 12(8) states the following conditions:
Death/permanent disability/resignation of employees who were granted with options
Rule 12(8) states that in the event of the death of employee while in employment, all the options granted to him till such date shall vest in the legal heirs or nominees of the deceased employee.
In case the employee suffers a permanent incapacity while in employment, all the options granted to him as on the date of permanent incapacitation, shall vest in him on that day.
In the event of resignation or termination of employment, all options not vested in the employee as on that day shall expire. However, the employee can exercise the options granted to him which are vested within the period specified in this behalf, subject to the terms and conditions under the scheme granting such options as approved by the Board.
Disclosure in the Board’s Report
Rule 12(9) states that the Board of directors, shall, inter alia, disclose in the Directors’ Report for the year, the following details of the Employees Stock Option Scheme:
(a) options granted;
(b) options vested;
(c) options exercised;
(d) the total number of shares arising as a result of exercise of option;
(e) options lapsed; (f) the exercise price;
(g) variation of terms of options;
(h) money realized by exercise of options;
(i) total number of options in force;
(j) employee wise details of options granted to;-
Maintenance of Register
Rule 12(10) states that the company shall maintain a Register of Employee Stock Options in Form No. SH.6 and shall forthwith enter therein the particulars of option granted under clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 62.
The Register of Employee Stock Options shall be maintained at the registered office of the company or such other place as the Board may decide. The entries in the register shall be authenticated by the company secretary of the company or by any other person authorized by the Board for the purpose.