Employee shares tax 'blocks growth'
Just 6pc of employees in Ireland are shareholders in the company where they work, compared to the EU average of 21.7pc, according to a new survey.
Employees' stake in large European companies grew to €325bn in 2016. In the US, paying employees partly through a stake in the business has allowed many startup businesses to grow rapidly with relatively low costs, while employees can reap huge rewards.
The tax system here, which hits workers with a bill when they are awarded shares rather than when they sell them, is seen as a major barrier to broadening share ownership.
"If Ireland wants to produce the next Facebook or Google, it will need to attract and retain the staff to help such a company develop," said Gill Brennan, CEO of the Irish Pro Share Association (IPSA), an independent advocacy group.
"By offering employees a stake in the business they work in, employees have a vested interest in ensuring that the business thrives," Mr Brennan added.
IPSA will hold Ireland's first Employee Share Ownership Day (ESOD) on June 22 at Google's European headquarters in Dublin. The event will feature a series of talks and workshops by global experts on the benefits of employee incentives and ownership for businesses.
"The current tax regime on employee incentive schemes acts as a barrier (to employee ownership) and ESOD 2017 will feature leading global speakers on the benefits of both business and Government improving their approach to employee share ownership schemes," Gill Brennan said.