GOVERNMENT PROPOSES MAJOR LABOUR LAW CHANGES FOR EASE OF COMPLIANCE

PROPOSED MAJOR LABOUR LAW CHANGES FOR EASE OF COMPLIANCE

The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2019 (“OSHW”), introduced by the Ministry of Labour and Employment introduces provisions allowing companies to have a single registration, which will be coupled with a single licence, along with a single return, for executing projects for five years involving contract workers, across the country.

An establishment will require a single registration instead of around 10 required to be done for all labour laws, a move that may help India bolster its “ease of doing business” ranking. Significantly, the Code on OSHW will cover all establishments hiring at least 10 workers, including those in services sector, thereby bringing the information technology sector within its ambit.

Employers will have to create a security deposit with the government at the time of obtaining such licence and specify the number of contract workers it might require. In case an employer wants to hire more contract workers, it will have to go back to the government to renew the licence and make an additional deposit.

In a further bid to improve ease of doing business, the Centre has proposed assigning “inspector-cum-facilitators” outside their jurisdiction “through randomised computer system”.

The provision of one licence and one return in place of multiple licences and returns in existing 13 labour laws subsumed in this Code is intended to save time, resources and efforts of businesses.

Important Deadline — Form filing for loans and deposits — June 30

If your company has taken loans or deposits, this form filing requirement applies to you!

Every company having outstanding money/loan received shareholders or directors or any other person has to file Form DPT-3 by June 30, 2019 with respect to deposits/exempted deposits accepted by the Company and the amount of loan/money outstanding as on March 31, 2019.

In case, no amount/loan has been received by the Company which can be considered a deposit or exempted deposit, the filing of form DPT-3 with ROC is not applicable.

Also, in case there are deposits accepted by the Company, you also require a certificate from the statutory auditor certifying the details of the same.

In case of default in filing of form, the Company shall be liable to pay a penalty of Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 500 per day in case of a continuing default. If the Company is non-compliant then it shall be chargeable with fine of Rs. 1 Crore to Rs. 10 Crore. Every officer who is in default shall be chargeable with fine of Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 2 Crore and imprisonment up to 7 years.

LexGyaan Series on ESOPs – Part 1: How do Employee Stock Options Plan (ESOPs) work?

CREATING AN ESOP POLICY

In our experience of having assisted several entrepreneurs with execution of ESOPs for their startups, we have observed that most entrepreneurs are under the impression that by just mentioning the number of ESOPs on their cap table, or in offer letters to their employees, the startup has fulfilled its obligation to grant ESOPs to its employees. This is actually incorrect.

Mentioning ESOP pool on your cap table actually just makes your investors happy. Why? Well when an investor invests in your startup, they want to ensure that they do not get diluted for any reason except in case of future rounds of fundraising by your startup (even for that they have the right to maintain valuation aka pre-emptive right). It is important for investors that their shareholding does not get diluted in order to give shares to your employees, mentors or all those well-wishers of yours, whose help and guidance you took in the initial days of starting up and promised equity to. Only you the founder should get diluted to give these promised equity shares to your mentors and advisors, not the investors. This is the reason why investors require a startup to create an ESOP pool/advisory stock option pool, as a condition precedent to their investment in a startup. This is also the reason why investors require you to convert all loans from friends and family, and conversion of convertible notes, if any.

Related reading: Understand how valuations work and how a founder’s shareholding gets diluted when an investor invests in a startup in our blog titled ” The Valuation Game.. What Does It Mean Exactly? , by our co-founder, Karthik Chandrasekar.  

Therefore, all you have achieved by mentioning a “ESOP Pool” on your cap table and inserting a number against it is (a) carving out the maximum number / percentage up to which your investors won’t get diluted, and (b) demonstrating to your investors, your intention to give ESOPs some day to your employees.

At this stage, where your startup’s ESOPs are only on the cap table, your ESOPs are only a virtual pool. How do you convert the ESOPs in to reality? Well, that’s easy, you will just have to create an actual ESOP pool. In order to do that, you will have to take the following steps:

Step 1

Draft an ESOP Policy in compliance with the Indian Companies Act, 2013. The ESOP Policy will have to set out in detail the terms of ESOPs, cliff period, vesting schedule, exercise price/strike price, exercise period, consequences of employee leaving the startup, consequences of the startup getting acquired, etc.

Sign up here to request a free Demo

Step 2

Once the draft ESOP policy has been finalized and if you have investors in your startup, then check your Shareholders’ Agreement and Articles of Association, to verify if the approval of investors for a ESOP policy will be required. Lost? Well, just look for a clause that is titled either as “reserved matter right” or “affirmative voting matter” or  “affirmative voting right” or “investor protection matter”. Once you find this clause, then look through the several items and check if creating a stock option, ESOP etc is listed therein. If it is, then you would have to send an email to your investor alongwith copy of the ESOP policy for your startup, requesting the investor for its approval to the ESOP policy.

LexGyaan: Most VCs get their respective legal team to also review the ESOP policy. Therefore, be prepared for few iterations and discussions.

 Step 3

Where you don’t have any investors in your startup, you can skip step 2 and directly proceed with step 3, i.e., convene a Board Meeting for approval of the ESOP Policy. How to convene a board meeting properly under Companies Act, 2013?

Step 4

Convene a meeting of Shareholders (aka EGM) of your startup, for approval of the ESOP Policy.

Now you have an ESOP policy and can formally start granting ESOPs. Click here to download a free template of a ESOP grant letter!

Click here to read FAQs on ESOPs.

LexStart makes ESOP creation a breeze. Click here to learn more. Request a Demo.

 

LexStart’s LexGyaan Series: Can I grant ESOPs to a Co-Founder?

Granting ESOPs to Promoters/Co-Founders

I often get asked this question – “Can I grant ESOPs to a Co-Founder who I recently brought on board my Startup?”. Well the answer is both yes and no!

The Companies Act, 2013 prohibits grant of ESOPs to the Promoter of a company. The term “Promoter” does not necessarily refer to only a person who is named as a Promoter at the time of incorporation of the company. A Promoter is defined broadly and includes, the following:

  • Any person who has been named as such in a prospectus or is identified by the company in its annual return; or
  • Any person who has control over the affairs of the company, directly or indirectly whether as a shareholder, director or otherwise; or
  • Any person in accordance with whose advice, directions or instructions the Board of Directors of the company is accustomed to act. Provided that such person is not someone who is acting merely in a professional capacity.

Therefore, typically a Co-Founder who you bring on board at a later stage, may not be a Promoter as stated in the Charter Documents (Memorandum and Articles of Association of your Startup) but still can be considered a “Promoter”, thus restricting him from receiving ESOPs in the company.

ESOPs to Promoters/Co-Founders of recognized Startups

The Companies Act, 2013 has made an exception to the above rule, by allowing Startups that are recognized by Govt. of India to grant ESOPs to founders, as long as the grant of such ESOPs is within 5 years from their incorporation. This means if your Startup has a Certificate of Recognition from DPIT, Govt. of India, then you can grant ESOPs to Promoters/Co-founders.

Related Readings : How to Get Startup India Registration

FAQs on ESOPs

 

Issue of Shares with Differential Voting Rights

What is Differential Voting Rights?

Shares with Differential Voting Rights (DVRs) means shares that give the holder differential rights as to voting (either more or less voting right) as against the Ordinary shareholders of the company.

Types of DVR    

  • Shares that have superior voting rights
  • Shares that have inferior voting rights

Eligibility/Condition for issue of shares with DVR*

  • AOA of the Company should authorize issue of DVR;
  • Consistent track record of distributable profits for the last three years;
  • No default in filing annual return for last 3 Financial Years;
  • No default in payment of declared dividend or repayment of deposit or loan borrowed;
  • the shares with differential rights shall not exceed twenty-six percent of the total post-issue paid up equity share capital;
  • No penalty by court or tribunal for any offense for the last 3 Financial Years; and
  • The shares issued with DVR cannot be changed later.

*This provisions shall not apply to private companies in case MOA and AOA of the company provide otherwise.

Procedure for issue of shares with differential voting rights

  • Check AOA of the Company;
  • Obtain valuation certificate from registered valuer;
  • Open a separate bank account;
  • The terms of issue of shares should be finalized;
  • Conduct board meeting for issue of shares with DVR;
  • In case issue of DVR affects the rights of existing class of shares then obtain consent from 3/4th of the shareholders of that class;
  • Filing form MGT-14 with ROC within 30 days of EGM;
  • Circulate offer letter along with the share application form to the investors;
  • Receive share application money along with the application form ;
  • Conduct board meeting for allotment of shares;
  • File form PAS-3 within 15 days of allotment of shares;
  • Pay stamp duty and issue share certificates; and
  • Make entry in register of members.

Difference between DVR shares and Ordinary Shares

DVR shares
  • Provide few or higher voting right to shareholders.
  • Rate of dividend is low or higher.
  • DVR shares are ideal for small shareholders or promoters.
  • Issued at a discount in comparison with ordinary shares.
Ordinary Shares
  • One share One Vote.
  • Rate of dividend is fixed for class of shareholders.
  • Ideal for large shareholders.
  • Issue at FMV.

Advantages of Issuing shares with DVR

From Issuer Perspective
  • To raise more capital without diluting its ownership structure.
  • Get control in decision making process.
  • A tool to avoid hostile take over.
  • To fund large Project.
From Investor Perspective
  • Benefit to investors since share are issued at discount & also for incremental dividend.
  • Better for investors who are looking for good quick return rather than voting rights.
  • Institutional Investors can invest in private companies without any limit and making it a subsidiary.

Dis-advantages of DVR

From companies Perspective
  • Lack of investor awareness about such issue of shares.
  • Issue shares at discount.
  • Minority shareholders can lose faith in the Company.
From investor Perspective
  • Lack of investor awareness about such issue of shares.
  • Possible misuse of voting power
  • by the promoters & hence act
  • against the interest of the shareholders.
  • Lack of liquidity may hamper return.
  • Not beneficial for Institutional
  • Investors as they are
  • interested in voting rights and long term capital gains both.

Case of Tata Motors

  • In 2008, issued DVR shares.
  • It was the first company in India to issue DVR shares and amongst the very few in Asia.
  • Issued at Rs 305 a share which was about 10% lower than the issue of normal rights at Rs.340.
  • Will offer 5% of more dividends.
  • Gives an additional 10.3% discount.
  • But carry one-tenth the voting rights of ordinary shares. This means 10 DVR shares = 1 ordinary share as far as voting rights is concerned.

Amazon caps voting rights in Witzig Advisory Services at 17%

  • Amazon has bought 17% stake in the company through Class A shares and the rest 32% through Class B shares having differential voting rights (DVR).
  • Each Class A share shall have one vote, while the Class B shares shall not carry any voting rights. This effectively caps Amazon’s voting rights in Witzig at 17%.
  • Amazon appears to have made use of DVR shares to comply with the new ecommerce FDI norms that came into force from February 1, and also to ensure that More can continue selling on its Indian marketplace.
  • The new ecommerce FDI guidelines had forced Amazon to reduce its stake from 49% to 24% in Cloudtail and Appario, the two top sellers on its marketplace. The American etailer had also evaluated the idea of limiting its holding in Witzig to less than 26%, and not acquiring 49% in the company as was originally planned.
  • By capping its voting rights in Witzig at less than 17%, Amazon will be able to continue with More as a seller. Samara Capital will hold 51% in Witzig, making the latter an Indian owned-and-controlled company.

Conclusion

  • For an investor, who wants to be in the company’s decision processes, DVR  shares is not an attractive proposition due to limited voting rights.
  • But if an investor isn’t concerned much with voting rights, then investing in the DVR would certainly be an attractive option.

Disclosure of Significant Beneficial Ownership

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) on June 13, 2018 notified Section 90 of the Companies Act, 2013 (Act); and notified Companies (Significant Beneficial Owners) Rules 2013. This rule came into effect on June 14, 2018. These provisions require certain compliances to be followed by a Significant Beneficial Owner and a company.

Who is a “Significant Beneficial Owner”?

“Significant Beneficial Owner” means an individual who acting alone or together, or through one or more persons or trust, including a trust and persons resident outside India, holds ultimate beneficial interest of not less than 10% in shares of a company or the right to exercise, or the actual exercising of significant influence or control in a company.

This applies to the (i) individual who is acting alone or together with one or more persons (includes partnerships) (ii) includes a trust (iii) person resident in India or outside India.

 Sr. No. Where Shareholder of a company is a Who is Significant Beneficial Owner?
A. Company Significant Beneficial Owner is the natural person, who, whether acting alone or together with other natural persons, or through one or more other persons or trust holds atleast 10% of share capital of the Company or exercise significant influence or control in the company.
B. Partnership Firm Significant Beneficial Owner is the natural person, who, whether acting alone or together with other natural persons, or through one or more other persons or trust holds atleast 10% of capital or is entitled of not less than 10% of profits of the partnership firm.
C. Trust The Significant Beneficial Owner shall be- the author of the trust, and the trustee and the beneficiaries with not less than 10% interest in the trust and any other natural person exercising ultimate effective control over the trust through a chain of control or ownership.

Where no natural person is identified in point no. A and B in the table above, the Significant Beneficial Owner is the relevant natural person who holds the position of senior managing official.

What is the obligation of Significant Beneficial Owner?

  • Every existing Significant Beneficial Owner is obligated to file a declaration in Form No. BEN-1 with the respective company. This declaration is to be made by September 10, 2018.
  • Every Significant Beneficial Owner shall file any change in his significant beneficial ownership within 30 days to the company.
  • Every individual, who acquires significant beneficial ownership in a Company, shall file a declaration in Form No.BEN-1 to the Company within 30 days of acquiring such significant beneficial ownership.

What are the obligations of the Company?

  • The company receiving the declaration has to maintain a register of Significant Beneficial Owners.
  • The company has to file a return in Form No. BEN-2of significant beneficial owners of the company and changes therein with the Registrar within 30 days from the date of receipt of the declaration.
  • Maintain a register of significant beneficial owner in Form No. BEN – 3.
  • Also, if the Company knows or has reason to believe that someone is s Significant Beneficial Owner (or has been a Significant Beneficial Owner in last 3 years) and is not registered with the company as a Significant Beneficial Owner then, the company is required to give notice to such person seeking information in Form No.BEN-4.

Consequences of non-disclosure by Significant Beneficial Owner

  • Shares may be made subject to the restriction on transfer.
  • All rights in shares held by such Significant Beneficial Owner shall be suspended, including, voting rights, dividend etc.
  • The MCA may impose penalty of up to INR 1,00,000/- and INR 1,000 per day the default continues.
  • Such Significant Beneficial Owner can be charged with fraud under Section 447 of Companies Act, 2013.

Consequences of non-compliance by a company?

Fine ranging from INR 10,00,000/- to INR 50,00,000/- for company and INR 1,000 per day the default continues.

Who is exempted from definition of Significant Beneficial Owner?

  • Mutual Funds;
  • Alterative Investment Funds (AIFs); and
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (lnvlTs).

Now BSE India Has A Platform For Startups

                          

With an aim to boost the Startup Environment, BSE India has now launched a platform for new-age companies. Startups on BSE’s new platform will go live on 9th July. 

Listings:

The BSE platform will facilitate the listing of the companies in sector such as :

  • IT , ITES , biotechnology and life science,
  • 3D printing , space technology , e-commerce , hi-tech defence , drones , nano-technologies,
  • artificial intelligence , big data , virtual reality , e-gaming , exoskeleton , robotics , holographic technology ,
  • genetic engineering , variable computers , inside body computer technology and any other hi-tech company.

Criteria/Pre-requisites:

  • The pre-issue paid-up equity share Capital of the company should be a minimum of Rs. 1 crore.
  • Company should be in existence for a minimum period of 3 years on the date of filing the draft prospectus with BSE.
  • Startup should preferably have an investment by QIB investors/ angel Investors for a minimum period of 2 years at the time of filing of draft prospectus with BSE, and such aggregate investment should be at least Rs 1 crore.
  • A net worth that is positive.
  • No reference to NCLT under IBC, 2016.
  • No winding up petition that has been accepted by NCLT.

Benefits:

  • Will help expose these companies to different forms of capital and also bring better transparency in terms of valuation, corporate governance etc.
  • Will provide ease of access to Startups and these emerging companies for getting listed on a national exchange and giving a boost to the Indian Startup ecosystem in terms of funding, by lifting investor confidence.
  • The Startups need not go through the conventional initial public offering, as they get access to a credible class of investors on this platform by BSE, India.
  • The expectation is that this new platform- the BSE Startup Platform will be further strengthened to give startups much-deserved visibility.
  • One can expect better corporate governance standards and more transparency in fundraising and valuation.

Challenge:

  • The biggest challenge on the BSE, India platform is the lack of participation from the retail class of investors, who actually provide the momentum.

UNION BUDGET 2018

Below is a summary of the significant announcements made in the Budget today, being updated on a real time basis:

1. Women employee’s contribution to Provident Fund under the Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 reduced to 8% for the 1st 3 years of employment. No change in employer’s contribution.

2. Indian Stamp Act to be amended for facilitating financial restructuring.

3. Separate policy for facilitating hybrid instrument to facilitate Investment in startups including foreign investments proposed.

4. Reduced corporate tax rate of 25% now extended to all companies with annual turnover of upto INR 250 Crores.

5. Standard deduction of INR 40,000 for salaried employees & pensioners permitted for reimbursement of transport and medical expenses.

6. Payment of more than INR 10,000 made in cash by trust shall be disallowed and subject to tax.

7. Long Term Capital Gains of more than INR 1 lakh to be taxed at the rate of 10% without benefit of indexation. All capital gains upto January 31, 2018 to be grandfathered.