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 Model plans

Employee share ownership, what is it? Employee share ownership is when employees hold a stake in the capital of the company that employs them. It starts with one employee holding one share and can extend up to 100% held by all employees.

A small number of model employee share ownership plans exist around the world (but with many variations depending on the specific legislation of each country). These plans are more or less adapted to startups (or micro-enterprises) or to SMEs or large companies.

Like corporate ownership in general, employee share ownership plans can be divided into two main categories, individual direct and collective indirect share ownership:

Direct individual employee share ownership is the most traditional and familiar form.. To achieve this, the employee uses part of his or her savings or financial resources to buy shares in the company, thus assuming a personal risk. This is possible under various types of plans. This category of employee share ownership plans is virtually the only one of its kind in continental Europe.

Indirect collective employee ownership is very little practised in Europe (except in the UK). This explains why employee share ownership in Europe is almost non-existent in SMEs, and why it is almost unknown outside large companies. Indeed, SMEs generally avoid increasing their shareholder numbers, whether or not they are employees. They are only forced into it when they become larger.

On the other hand, one particular phase may trigger a desire for new shareholders: Business transmission. That is why this is the best time to introduce employee ownership in SMEs. Indirect collective ownership is the most suitable form for transferring a company to employees. Plans within this category (ESOP, EOT) have been designed for this purpose. They allow employees to acquire ownership of their company, often 100%, without having to use up their savings or personal finances, and therefore without personal risk.

Indirect collective employee ownership plans (ESOPs, EOTs) facilitate the transfer of companies to employees, which direct individual share ownership schemes can only achieve with great difficulty and expense, as employee savings are usually not up to the task.

More information    

Press review
We have a selection of 30 remarkable articles in 10 countries in December 2021: Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, UK, USA, Vietnam.
Canada: Looking for an employee ownership trust scheme in Canada.
France: New employee share plan for Worldline, for Veolia. Difficulties for employee ownership in startups. How to advance employee share ownership in France?
Germany: Magic in Germany, after the entry into force of the new legislation on July 1, 2021, the number of employee shareholders suddenly increased by more than 50% during the year 2020. Magic, we tell you!
India: Stock options au pays des startups.
Italy: Growing interest for employee share plans in Italy. New employee share plan for EssilorLuxottica.
Netherlands: Anger for startups.
Spain: New information campaign on the sociedades laborales scheme.
UK: One in 20 of all business transmissions is now to an Employee Ownership Trust. Every day a new SME is transferred to employees, as for instance this month: Nabco, Folio Society, Greentech Sportsturf, Zaha Hadid Architects, HR Essentials, RocketMill, Clear Marketing, HLM Architects.
USA: Business transmission to employees for Stubbe, WG&R Furniture, Wells Media, Optimax. The three tools for employee takeovers: ESOP Plan, Workers' Cooperative, Employee Ownership Trust.
Vietnam: Employee ownership in Vietnamese style.

The full press review is available on:


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   With best regards



Marc Mathieu
Secretary General
Avenue Voltaire 135, B-1030 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 242 64 30 - Fax: +32 (0)2 791 96 00
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EFES' objective is to act as the umbrella organization of employee owners, companies and all persons, trade unions, experts, researchers, institutions looking to promote employee share ownership and participation in Europe.