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What is Save as You Earn (SAYE)?

Save as You Earn

By CruseBurke1Published about a year ago 3 min read


Save as You Earn (SAYE), also known as Sharesave, is a well-liked employee share ownership program in the United Kingdom. It grants employees the chance to save a portion of their income over a fixed duration while offering them the option to purchase shares in their employer's company at a predetermined price. SAYE schemes provide an advantageous means for employees to participate in their company's success, potentially profiting from any increase in share value. This article explores the ins and outs of SAYE, including its functioning, benefits, eligibility criteria, and considerations for employees.

Section 1: Understanding Save as You Earn (SAYE)

Save as You Earn (SAYE) is a UK-regulated employee share ownership scheme overseen by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). It enables employees to regularly set aside a portion of their earnings over a fixed period, typically three to five years, with the option to use these savings to purchase shares in their company at a predetermined price.

Section 2: How Does SAYE Work?

SAYE operates through a savings contract established between the employee and their employer. Employees agree to have a specified amount deducted from their monthly salary, generally ranging from £5 to £500. These savings are accumulated in a SAYE savings account held by a financial institution chosen by the employer.

At the end of the savings period, employees have the choice to utilize their accumulated savings to purchase shares in the company at a pre-agreed price, referred to as the option price. This price is typically set at the beginning of the scheme and remains fixed throughout the savings period, regardless of any increase in the market value of the shares.

Section 3: Benefits of SAYE

SAYE schemes offer several advantages to employees, including:

Opportunity for Financial Gain: Participating in SAYE presents the potential for employees to benefit from any increase in the company's share value during the savings period. If the market value of the shares exceeds the option price, employees can purchase the shares at a discounted rate, resulting in a financial gain.

  1. Flexibility: Employees have the flexibility to decide whether to proceed with the share purchase at the end of the savings period. If the share price has decreased or they choose not to purchase the shares, they can simply withdraw their savings without facing any penalties.
  2. Regular Savings: SAYE encourages regular savings by deducting a fixed amount from the employee's salary each month. This can cultivate a habit of saving and promote financial discipline.
  3. Tax Advantages: SAYE schemes offer tax benefits to employees. The savings contributions are deducted from their pre-tax income, reducing their taxable salary. Additionally, any potential gains from the share purchase may qualify for favorable capital gains tax treatment, provided certain conditions are met.

Section 4: Eligibility and Considerations

To be eligible for SAYE, employees must meet specific criteria determined by their employer. Some common factors to consider include:

  1. Length of Service: Employers may require employees to have a minimum length of service, typically six months or more, before they can participate in the scheme.
  2. Employment Status: SAYE is typically available to permanent employees, although some employers extend participation to other categories, such as fixed-term or part-time employees.
  3. Participation Limits: Employers may impose limits on the maximum amount employees can contribute to their savings each month or the maximum value of shares they can purchase at the scheme's conclusion.
  4. Market Volatility: Employees should be aware that the value of shares can fluctuate based on market conditions. While SAYE schemes allow for share purchase at a fixed price, there is no guarantee that the market value will exceed this price at the end of the savings period.
  5. Employment Termination: If an employee leaves the company before the savings period concludes, they may forfeit the opportunity to purchase the shares and typically receive a refund of their savings.
  6. Financial Risks: As with any investment, there are inherent risks associated with purchasing company shares. Employees should carefully evaluate their employer's financial stability and future prospects before committing to the scheme.


Save as You Earn (SAYE) provides employees in the UK with a unique chance to save and invest in their employer's company. It offers potential financial gains, flexibility, tax advantages, and fosters a regular savings habit. By participating in SAYE, employees can align their financial interests with the success of their company.

However, it is crucial for employees to fully comprehend the scheme's terms and conditions, including eligibility criteria, savings periods, share prices, and potential risks. Seeking advice from a financial advisor is recommended to assess individual circumstances and make informed decisions.

SAYE schemes empower employees to become shareholders, cultivating a sense of ownership and enabling them to potentially reap the rewards of their company's growth. For individuals seeking long-term financial benefits and an opportunity to be more closely involved in their employer's success, SAYE presents an enticing proposition.

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About the Creator


CruseBurke best Accountants in Croydon has been providing assistance to local businesses. Yes, we can trace our roots all the way back to World War II, and we take great pride in our age.

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