Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

Employee Ownership Newsletter March 2015

Dear subscriber

Welcome and thank you to all for your ongoing support. 

2015 has already started as a really good year for employee ownership with a new start-up regime being introduced, which was refined (in a positive way) as a result of the consultation process. There has also been a reversal of the 2009 option plan taxation regime.

Employee Ownership Conference Announced

We are delighted to announce that our 2015 Conference line up has now been finalised and registration is now open.

Our 4th Annual Conference will be held on Thursday 21 May 2015 at Greenwood Herbert Smith Freehills, 101 Collins Street, Melbourne.

Where the Employee Ownership worl meets

The conference is the largest of its kind in Australia and attracts professionals from across the business world, including share plan advisers, administrators, HR professionals, employment and contract lawyers, finance directors, company secretaries and communications experts.

More than 70 delegates, representing some of the world’s largest companies attended the 3rd Employee Ownership Conference last year.


We are delighted to have the Minister Bruce Billson as our keynote speaker.  The Minister and Tony Smith MP have been instrumental in pushing forward the changes that we have seen in this space.


The ASIC Commissioner John Price will also be presenting.  Part of his mandate this year has been the introduction of changes to prospectus filing exemptions in employee share plans.


We have some overseas visitors including Andrew Pendleton form the UK, who has done considerable research around what drives employee to participate in employee share plans.

Our corporate panel will have Telstra and Orica presenting and shaing their journey.  In addtiiona we have a wealth of expert panel presenters.  Our full program is available on our conference website.

Industry News - Start Regime Changes

We are extremely delighted to announce that some of the key changes that EOA has been asking for have been implemented in the start-up regime review and consultation that has been taking place:

  1. CGT confirmed: it confirmed that the plans will fall into the CGT regime meaning that cessation of employment is not a relevant taxing point. Tax will only apply on disposal and most importantly the CGT concessional rate will apply to options held for 12 months regardless of how long the shares are subsequently held for.
  2. Practical impediments removed: there were a number of practical impediments in the draft legislation that made the regime restrictive and may have limited take up.  These have now been removed.  There is no longer a requirement to have a broad based plan in operation to access the regime.  This aligns the start-up regime with the current options regime in the listed space. It also recognises that most companies may not have the share capital or ability to implement a plan for all staff immediately (even though on a philosophical level they might want to).  The requirement have an absolute 3 year holding period has also been relaxed where there is a sale or takeover and again reflects what is place for the tax exempt plan in the listed space.
  3. FBT issue around premium priced options has been clarified and fixed.  It has been confirmed that no FBT will apply to premium priced options.
  4. The option refund rules have been fixed: if an option is cancelled or lost then any income tax that has been paid on the option will be refunded.  This was an issue previously because options that were cancelled (were an employee chose not to exercise them e.g. because they were underwater) were not entitled to a refund.  Since the changes this has caused alot of practical issues for companies.


Recently, EOA was part of a project managed by the Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals Task Force to develop a “White Paper on Public Service Mutuals”.

The Public Service Mutuals White Paper was launched on 4th September, 2014 in Canberra by the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Kevin Andrews MP.

As a result we are delighted to announce that we have added some resources around public service mutuals.  It is intended to help anyone considering setting one up.

EOA have also created a page about social entreprise legal models.  Again to assist companies going down this path.


South Korea: New government plans announced to encourage stock ownership which mean that workers who purchase shares of their own companies will get tax deductions.

Media Coverage

Employee shares: how to decide if the coming regime makes them worth your while
25 Feb 2015 | BRW

The ’10 year old start-ups’ of biotech unfairly miss out on employee share scheme relief
29 Jan 2015 | BRW

Start-ups see room to hire in tax switch
16 Jan 2015 | The Sydney Morning Herald

Start-ups Call for Speedy Legislation
16 Jan 2015 | AFR

The 3 details that could ruin start-up employee share option reforms
24 Nov 2014 | BRW