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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My employment contract states that I'll be granted a certain

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My employment contract states that I'll be granted a certain number of shares but, a few months after starting, I've been told that I'll instead be given share options. This works out as £20k-30k less compensation than I was expecting. A number of other employees who started around the same time are in the same situation. I clarified the share scheme before signing the contract and was assured it was a share grant, not options. Do I have any options other than to accept the options?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: England
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I've discussed it with my manager (the CTO) and the CFO, who have been very apologetic (the CFO said they were mortified when they read the email chain between me and their recruiter). They have been very reluctant to take any action though.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No I think that's everything.

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Are you able to upload a copy of the contract on here?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I can't see an obvious way to upload files.

Hi there.

There are a few ways to send a photo or file. Please click the upload icon on the reply box in your question.
- A pop-up window will open. Locate the file on your device, click it once, then click Open.
- A link representing your photo or file should now appear below the reply box on your question page. Insert text in the reply box and click the Send button to send your photo or file to me
- To send a photo or file, it must be 5MB or less. If your photo or file is larger than 5MB, please resize it or send it to customer support at***@******.*** (please note this is a central inbox and often it may take at least a couple of days to reach me)

Alternatively, please use a third party file sharing service, such as Dropbox, MediaFire, Google Drive, etc. and share the document links on here

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
File attached (6VS6GQ3)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The relevant part is:Salary, bonuses and other incentive schemesDuring the period of employment, the Company shall pay to you a basic
salary at the rate of £90,000 per annum and you will be granted 60
shares in Octopus Energy Holdings Limited. This salary shall accrue
from day to day, and be payable by equal monthly instalments in arrears
on or about the last working day of each month.

Thank you. Failure to honour the contractual promises made and honour you with the shares, instead of the options, would amount to a breach of contract by the employer. That would allow you to consider a claim against them for the shortfall. However, that is unlikely to create a good relationship with the employer and the likelihood is that they may dismiss you instead. The reason they can do this is because you have been continuously employed at you place of work for less than 2 years and your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as the decision is not based on a reason which makes a dismissal automatically unfair. These include:

· Discrimination due to a protected characteristic (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)

· Taking, or trying to take, leave for family reasons including pregnancy, maternity/paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave or leave for dependants

However, if the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions, you would not be able to challenge it. In that case your only protection would be if you were dismissed in breach of contract. That would usually happen if you were not paid any contractual notice period due to you (unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, where no notice would be due).

So it may end up a choice between the value of the shares or your job, whatever is more important to you.

Does this answer your query?

Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That is more or less what I thought too, thanks. I'm hoping that the fact that there are a number of other employees in the same situation will give me a stronger bargaining position (they can't sack us all!), but I will have to weigh this against the possibility of just bring dismissed. Thanks for your advice.

You are most welcome