In competitive business environments and industries, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to incentivise their employees by offering additional remuneration in return for good performance and achievement of targets. Such “variable pay” can take various different forms, including cash bonuses, commission or profit share, and awards under long-term incentive plans (LTIPs) (for example share options, restricted shares or phantom options or shares).
LTIPs, by definition, effectively “lock in“ employees by measuring performance over time, so that awards will only vest or become exercisable once specific performance targets and conditions have been met. However, other forms of variable pay are not retained or withheld for such lengthy periods. This is to ensure performance is as good as initially thought and that there are no nasty surprises. In some cases, variable pay is not only awarded on retrospective performance but by way of forward payment (for example signing–on bonuses or awards made before performance has been verified and accounts audited). Continue reading