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The new employee-owners at High Speed Training Company, UK

 Collective employee ownership - the unstoppable rise

While individual employee share ownership is more common in large companies, collective employee ownership works better for SMEs.

By owning shares individually, employees invest their savings in company shares. Large companies are, of course, used to offering their shares to the public. For employees, the shares are often offered on advantageous terms, in the form of a reduced price or a company contribution.

In SMEs, it's a completely different story. Issuing of new shares is rare. Rather, ownership changes only in very specific circumstances: business transfers, when the managing owner wants to retire. We're not talking about a few shares, but the whole company. The sums involved are much larger. This is not something an individual employee can take on. On the other hand, it's perfect for collective employee ownership.

The collective ownership approach avoids the need for employees to invest, risk their own savings or go into debt. Financing comes from outside, in the form of credit, and employees do not bear the risk.

In the Anglo-Saxon world, trusts are used as the legal vehicle for organising this effectively. In the United States, they have used the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) plan since 1974. In the UK, the Employee Ownership Trust option is becoming increasingly popular. Unstoppable.

There are legal vehicles in many European countries that can be used for the same collective employee ownership process. Their names vary from country to country: private foundation, fondation privée, fiducie, stichting administratiekantoor, Privatstiftung, stiftelse,…

Family ownership has for years been organised across Europe using these mechanisms. The time has come for employees to make use of collective ownership via these vehicles as well.
That will allow for employee ownership to spread throughout Europe, including to SMEs.

Press review
We have a selection of 24 remarkable articles in 7 countries in June 2023: Czechia, France, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, UK, USA.
Czechia: Government promise.
France: Take inspiration from the SCOP model. The Jean Jaurès Foundation recommends prohibiting employee share ownership "pure and simple madness". New employee share plan for Sanofi, for Veralia. Employee ownership weighs 80% at GCC Construction. ERES publishes its annual overview of employee share ownership.
Netherlands: CNV Union recommends the free distribution of shares to employees. Employee ownership foundations operate primarily on the basis of share certification.
Romania: Employee share ownership takes off in Romania.
UK: Thanks to the Employee Ownership Trust scheme, every day a new SME is transferred to employees, this month, among others, the case of: Cornerstone Veterinary Clinic, Clean Digital Marketing, Davies+McKerr Consultancy, Mapp Real Estate, Ainsley Gommon Architects, Leisure Park Internet Solutions.
USA: Business transmission to Employee-Owned Purpose Trust.

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
Web site:
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.