Thursday, 25 October 2018

Questions (55, 101)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

55. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the number of companies and employees that availed of the key employee engagement programme to date in 2018; the impact he expects to result from his proposed changes to the scheme in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44144/18]

View answer

Billy Kelleher

Question:

101. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the changes he plans to make to increase the take-up by SMEs in the employment investment incentive scheme and the key employee engagement programme. [44495/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 101 together.

The Key Employee Engagement Programme, KEEP, came into effect on 1 January this year to help SMEs to attract and retain employees in our highly competitive labour market. I am advised by Revenue that details of the costs and numbers availing of this programme will only be available once the relevant employer tax returns for 2018 have been received and processed. The first KEEP return is due on 31 March 2019.

Over the past year I have become aware that take-up has been less than expected and I decided to take early action in Budget 2019.

In my recent Budget speech, I announced my intention to increase the ceiling on the maximum annual market value of share options that may be granted to 100% of salary (i.e. to double the ratio of share options to salary). I will also be replacing the three-year limit with a lifetime limit and increasing the overall value of options that may be awarded per employee from €250,000 to €300,000. The €3,000,000 overall KEEP limit remains for companies and employees are not restricted in entering into future KEEP arrangements with future employers.

I expect that these changes will help support SMEs to compete for skilled staff.