HMRC has confirmed its position on EMI options and the working time requirement, as well as clarifying how the 12-month extended payment holiday for SAYE participants will apply, in its latest Employment Related Securities Bulletin.
HMRC has confirmed that, where an employee is not able to work due to COVID-19, the time they would usually have spent working will still contribute to their working time requirement. The reduction in working time will not be regarded as a disqualifying event, if it is for reasons connected to the pandemic.
This applies to employees starting furlough, reduced hours or unpaid leave on or after 19 March 2020. HMRC has provided examples and highlighted the need to prove that the change in the employee's working time was caused by the pandemic. You should keep evidence of this.
Employees on furlough, reduced hours or unpaid leave will be treated as if they were working their normal hours when determining whether they qualify as an FTE employee. You should take this into account when determining whether you are within the 250 FTE employee limit for granting EMI options.
HMRC gives examples of how the 12-month extended payment holiday for SAYE participants will operate.
SAYE scheme providers must update their contact details with HMRC to ensure that they are updated when an SAYE prospectus is withdrawn and a new one is issued.
The pandemic is a reasonable excuse for failing to meet "some" tax obligations, but the guidance is not clear on when this applies. It is best practice to meet all tax obligations on time. If this is not possible, you should keep evidence of the disruption caused by the pandemic.