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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50202
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I have lost my job. I had been working for a start up with

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I have lost my job. I had been working for a start up with a greatly reduced salary as I had share options. Now that they have effectively fired me my share optionsare wworthless. Can they do this?

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Why have you lost your job please? I will probably pick this up in the morning if thats ok?

They said that my job was no longer needed in the company and that they were moving in a different direction.

Ben Jones :

How long did you work there for? Also does the share plan mention anything about your entitlement to these options on termination - for example does it deal with what makes you a good leaver or a bad leaver?


I worked there for 18 months. As I said in my question it states in the options agreement that on termination of employment the options are no longer available. Still my question is legally can they do this when they have effectively fired/made me redundant.

Ben Jones :

Does it actually differentiate between different types of termination - for example you would usually see that dismissal for misconduct is treated differently due to dismissal for redundancy


There is no differentiation it just says on termination of employment.

Your entitlement to the share options following termination will very much depend on what is in the share plan and the terms you were bound by under it. This could cover how long the options have been held, the reason for termination, etc. You have already said that there is no differentiation between good/bad leaver.

The different scenarios that could occur include:
• Options to which you are already absolutely entitled (because performance targets have already been met and/or vesting dates have been passed) could potentially be retained or exercised in full after termination.
• Options might be able to be partially retained after cessation. If performance targets have not yet been met, these may either fall away or remain in place (so that, if they are not met, the option or award will then be lost).
• The board or remuneration committee may have a discretion as to whether to allow exercise by a leaver after cessation.

But I must stress again that your rights will mainly depend on the contents of the share plan which governed them so it is imperative to check this to determine exactly what your rights in this situation are.

If you believe that you have not been allowed to retain the options or they have vested and you have not been awarded them, you can consider taking legal action to recover adequate compensation to cover the employer's breach.

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you are unhappy for some reason with the advice - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you very much
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50202
Experience: Qualified Solicitor
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So where do I go from here?

well you need to check the share plan in detail to see your rights then take it from there - has the employer breached those terms and if so you can contact them and warn them of this and state that you will not hesitate taking legal action to resolve the matter - you need to try and sort this out directly with them first before going any further, like court. If nothing can be sorted with them, you can take this to court but only on the provision you are clear they have breached the agreement they had with you

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Thank you,