The total value of shares and options awarded through employee share plans in 2012/13 was £2.85 billion, according to figures by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Its Employee share schemes statistics for 2012-13 report, which covers the 2012/13 tax year, found that this was 7% higher than in 2011/12 across the four types of employee share schemes: company share option plans (Csop), enterprise management incentives (EMI), sharesave schemes and share incentive plans (Sips).
The report found that 3,580 organisations granted options or shares via the four HMRC-approved schemes in 2012/13.
The number of employees exercising options in 2012/13 has risen by 23% since 2011/12, following declines over the period from 2006/07 to 2010/11.
The total cost of income tax and national insurance contribution (NIC) relief in 2012/13 for all four types of HMRC-approved employee share schemes was £840 million, 45% higher than in 2011/12.
This is largely due to an increase in the value of income tax and NIC relief on gains achieved when sharesave scheme options have been exercised
Paul Matthews, managing director of corporate markets at Equiniti, said: “The HMRC Employee share schemes statistics report shows a positive trend in Sip and [sharesave] with employees seeing increasing benefits from their employer’s all-employee share plans.
“As share prices increase, we are seeing rising values in the Sips that we administer. The number of participants is rising, as well as the average plan-holding value.
“As share prices increase, more sharesave plans are ‘above water’, [where] the market price is higher than the option price.
“Options granted when the market was lower had lower option prices, and the current plans reaching maturity, which employees joined three or five years ago, are seeing some significant gains being made by employees.
“Over the past year, these plans have continued to expand due to new organisations coming to the market, rising share prices and, more recently, increases in plan limits”.