Finance Act 2018 removed the requirement for the Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) that qualifying share options granted could not exceed 50% of the annual emoluments of the qualifying individual in the year of assessment. Employers may now award qualifying KEEP options of up to the value of 100% of an employee’s annual emoluments (i.e. equal options and emoluments).
I also replaced the three-year limit with a lifetime limit and increased the quantum of share options that can be granted under the scheme from €250,000 to €300,000.
As KEEP falls within the State Aid rules it was necessary to obtain approval from the EU Commission prior to commencing the amendment. Following such approval, I recently signed a Commencement Order on this matter which is effective from 1 January 2019.
It was estimated at the time of Budget 2019 that the amendments to the remuneration limits under KEEP would not affect the projected maximum cost of the incentive, which is €10 million per annum.