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Finance Act 2014

New Section 312C

89.New subsection (1) provides the detail of the participation and equality requirements which form one of the conditions set out in section 312B(1). For a bonus scheme to meet the participation requirement all persons in relevant employment must be eligible to be awarded a bonus under the scheme.  Paragraph (b) provides that to meet the equality requirement every employee who is awarded a bonus under the scheme must do so on the same terms. That does not mean they must necessarily be awarded the same amount.

90.New subsection (2) defines when a person is in “relevant employment”. This is when the person is employed by the company paying the bonus or where the company paying the bonus is a member of a group, the person is employed by any company which is a member of the group.

91.New subsection (3) sets out an exception to the participation requirement.  It permits employers to exclude employees from the bonus award if those employees have less than a specified minimum period of continuous service at the time of the award which can be no longer than 12 months.

92.New subsection (4) provides for further exceptions to the participation requirement in respect of employees subject to a finding of gross misconduct or summary dismissal.  Paragraph (a) provides that where a finding of gross misconduct has been made in the period 12 months immediately before the bonus is determined, the employee can be excluded from participating in the award.  Paragraph (b) allows the award of a bonus to be conditional if at the time it is determined the employee is subject to disciplinary proceedings, depending on the outcome.  Finally, paragraph (c) provides that if disciplinary proceedings initiated after determination of the award lead to a finding of gross misconduct before payment is made, or if the employee is summarily dismissed before payment is made, the employee is treated as if they were never eligible to participate.

93.New subsection (5) provides that only those factors set out in subsection (6) can be used to determine the amount of the award.  New subsection (6) provides that if these refer to the employee’s remuneration, length of service, or hours worked, the equality requirement will not be infringed.

94.New subsection (7) provides that the equality requirement is infringed if some of the participating employees receive nothing.

95.New subsection (8) provides that where the amount of a participating employee’s share of an award under the scheme is determined by reference to more than one of the factors mentioned in subsection (6) the equality requirement will not be satisfied unless each of those factors gives rise to a separate bonus amount and the employee’s total bonus is the sum of those separate amounts.  This means that the entitlements cannot be multiplied together or used in any other kind of mathematical formula.

96.New subsection (9) prevents the equality requirement from being met if any feature of the scheme has or is likely to have the effect of disproportionally rewarding directors or former directors, higher paid employees, employees from specific parts of the business, or employees carrying out specific types of activity.  This has to be read in conjunction with subsection (6), but is intended to prevent an employer from paying an extra amount of bonus in addition to whatever is determined through use of the allowable factors.

97.New subsection (10) provides that any references to an employee in subsections 1(b), (5), (6), (7) and (9) include a former employee and similarly references to remuneration and other factors in the case of former employees are to be read as relating to the former employment.

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