Despite accounting misgivings on the viability of Savings-Related Share Option Plans, news of one success story provides encouragement for their continuity.

Participating employees in the Marks & Spencer SAYE plan are expecting to benefit from the surge in their employer’s share price when they come to exercise their SAYE options shortly.

It is reported that almost 12,000 participating employees are in line to make “profits” of between £1,000 and £45,000. In normal circumstances, no charge to income tax or National Insurance contributions will arise on the exercise of these options giving participants a tax-free windfall.

The revival of M&S under chief executive Stuart Rose has prompted the share price to rise from 282p three years ago to more than 700p in recent weeks. Participating employees who saved the maximum permitted amount of £250 per month over the same three year period will have gained more than £20,000 on their original investment.

Stuart Rose commented “We’re delighted that so many of our people have benefited from Sharesave this year and that their faith in M&S and their hard work has been rewarded”.

It is encouraging to see such a successful SAYE plan and M&S’ long-term commitment to it (they have operated an SAYE plan for over 20 years).