China: 京都劳动法专栏 | 与员工股票期权相关的劳动争议问题

Last Updated: 7 August 2019
Article by Yang Mu Qing

随着近年来我国员工股票期权激励制度的逐步实施和完善,员工股票期权纠纷案件的数量呈逐年攀升的趋势。尤其是2018年《公司法》修正案中规定"将股份用于员工持股计划或者股权激励"时公司可以予以回购。可以预见,在此后的一段时期内会有更多的公司采用股票期权激励作为一种长期的员工激励手段。

  股票期权争议常伴随员工终止或解除劳动合同而发生,因而与劳动关系密切相关。股票期权作为企业给予员工的一种利益,无法为原有的"劳动报酬或福利"的概念所涵盖,亦无法律、法规及相关司法解释对此做出明确规定。因此,我们只能从判决书中来窥见这类问题的审判思路。然而从2015-2019年的判例中可以看出,审判司法界仍未就其中分歧较大的问题达成一致,如股票期权的性质、是否为劳动争议、案由归属及程序法上的衔接。

  员工股票期权的性质

  员工股票期权是指公司授予激励对象在未来一定期限内以预先确定的价格和条件购买本公司一定数量股票的权利。

  《劳动争议调解仲裁法》第二条规定了劳动争议仲裁案件的受案范围,其中包括因福利和劳动报酬发生的争议。因此,股票期权的属性直接影响案件性质和救济方式。

  

关于股票期权案件的分歧也发仞于此——股票期权属不属于劳动报酬或福利?

  首先,来看一下关于"劳动报酬"的概念。

  ①最高法在《关于审理拒不支付劳动报酬刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释》定义为"劳动者依照《中华人民共和国劳动法》和《中华人民共和国劳动合同法》等法律的规定应得的劳动报酬,包括工资、奖金、津贴、补贴、延长工作时间的工资报酬及特殊情况下支付的工资等。

  ②《关于贯彻执行<中华人民共和国劳动法>若干问题的意见》第53条规定:《劳动法》中的工资是指用人单位依据国家有关规定或劳动合同的约定,以货币形式直接支付给本单位劳动者的劳动报酬,一般包括计时工资、计件工资、奖金、津贴和补贴、延长工作时间的工资报酬以及特殊情况下支付的工资等。"

  ③《劳动法》第五十条规定:"工资应当以货币形式按月支付给劳动者本人。"原劳动部1994年颁布的《关于〈劳动法〉若干条文的说明》明确指出:"本条中的'货币形式'排除发放实物、发放有价证券等形式。"

  从上述法条的描述中可以看出,劳动关系框架下的"劳动报酬"就是指"工资",是必须体现为"货币"形式的。即"股票期股"不是劳动法意义上的"劳动报酬"。这一点也为大多数法院所认同。如(2016)浙民终504号判决书:"股份期权激励并不属于企业员工依据劳动法领域应当依法享有的劳动薪酬或福利。"(2016)粤01民终15965号:"其中股权期权并非以货币形式支付,而是需要支付相应条件的对价购买,并不符合工资的支付形式和构成要件,不属于工资范畴。"

  也有部分学者认为股票期权是属于劳动报酬的。依据在于:财政部、国家税务总局《关于个人股票期权所得征收个人所得税问题的通知》的规定:"员工行权时,其从企业取得股票的实际购买价(施权价)低于购买日公平市场价(指该股票当日的收盘价)的差额,是因员工在企业的表现和业绩情况而取得的与任职、受雇有关的所得,应按'工资、薪金所得'适用的规定计算缴纳个人所得税。"但是就对案例的检索结果来看,目前尚未发现有判决书中将股票期权认定为劳动报酬。

  

那么,股票期权属于福利吗?

  我国劳动法中对福利语焉不详,一般来说,福利不是一种法定义务,而是用人单位为了吸引人才而自行采取的奖励措施。在实务中,确实有法院认为股票期权是一种福利,从而认定其引发的争议属于劳动争议的受案范围。如(2015)一中民终字第3507号判决书:"股票期权实质上是公司向员工提供的一种福利待遇,应纳入劳动争议处理。"

  

笔者认为,股票期权不宜视为劳动报酬或福利:

  第一、从规范性意义上讲,劳动报酬应具有货币性。我国法律不承认货币以外的工资发放形式。

  第二、从劳动与报酬的对价上看,我国法律强调工资是劳动给付的对价。股票期权作为一种可变薪酬,取决于公司的经营状况,而不是与劳动者提供的劳动量直接相关。

  第三、从同工同酬的立法精神上看,劳动者在相同岗位,提供相同工作量,取得相同业绩的条件下,劳动报酬和福利应该是一样的。而股票期权是可以根据公司管理者的偏好奖励给公司重视的某个员工的,是基于全体员工的劳动成果而对特定员工进行的二次分配。如果将其视为劳动报酬或福利,则背离了劳动法的立法精神。

 

 案由归属及影响

  员工股票期权基于劳动关系而产生,在权利授予与行使过程中又涉及到合同的订立和履行,其法律关系具有复杂性和交叉性,导致理论和实务上关于股票期权争议案由归属的分歧。

  1.劳动争议还是合同纠纷

  基于员工股票期权性质的论述,从"因劳动报酬/福利发生的争议属于劳动争议""股票期权不属于劳动报酬/福利",很容易得出"因股票期权发生的争议不属于劳动争议受案范围"的结论。事实上,在很多仲裁/诉讼的案件中裁判机关就是据此驳回劳动者的仲裁/诉讼请求的。

  认定为劳动争议虽然于法无据,但有其合理性。股票期权的授予多是针对本公司员工,是基于劳动关系产生,也大多是以劳动关系的维系为行权条件。而且,大多数争议的产生是由于劳动关系的终止或解除导致的。一方面,很难将其与其它争议事由完全割裂开;另一方面,从对劳动者保护的层面上看,如果不能适用劳动法,在服务期和违约金等事项上可能会得出相反的判决结果。因此部分法院还是将股票期权纠纷纳入了劳动争议的案由之下,认为股票期权争议是基于劳动关系产生的,可以在劳动争议案件中一并处理。如(2018)京01民终4898号判决书:"其离职前获得长期激励款项的利益系基于与乐视云之间的劳动关系,且其主张权利的依据系与乐视云公司签订的协议约定,因而双方就此产生的争议,可以在劳动争议案件中一并审理。"

  不认可劳动争议案由的裁判机关,多以合同纠纷或者与公司有关的纠纷为案由处理股票期权引发的争议。

  2.不同案由的影响

  是否以劳动争议的案由进行审理,除了程序上是否需要仲裁前置的影响外,对实体法的选择可能导致完全相反的裁判结果。

  ①劳动合同解除或终止导致员工丧失行权资格约定的有效性

  员工股票期权设置的目的在于激励员工,一方面成就员工与公司的利益共同体,另一方面使优秀员工尽可能长时间的为公司工作。为了保障上述目的实现,公司在授予股票期权时,往往对员工的就职时间予以限制,离职与股票期权存废相挂钩也是常见的情况之一。

  从合同法的角度理解,如果将公司给予员工股票的行为视为一种附条件的赠与,则赠与成就的条件就是"劳动关系仍然存续。"那么无论由于何种原因(除非公司为了阻止员工行权而故意解除合同)只要员工与公司之间不存在劳动关系了,员工就丧失了行权的权利。但是从劳动法的角度理解,必须要甄别劳动合同解除或终止的原因。如果员工因严重违纪而被辞退,在此种情况下员工的行为本身已损害了用人单位的合法权益已和设置股票期权制度的初衷相违背;而员工主动辞职,其本身就是一种自由意志的体现,是员工对期权利益的放弃。在此情况下,员工的期权理应不能实现。但是,如果用人单位属于违法解除劳动合同或劳动合同到期而未予续签。在此种情况下,虽然行权的条件未成就员工也应获得其应有的股票期权权益。

  ②是否能约定服务期和违约金

  在曹某与深圳市富安娜家居用品股份有限公司合同纠纷案中[案号(2013)深中法商终字第2088号],曹某为了以优惠价格获得股票期权,承认三年之内不提出辞职,否则自愿承担对公司的违约责任并向公司支付违约金。本案以合同纠纷的案由进行审理,最终判决曹某支付违约金。

  在我国现行劳动法律法规的背景下,用人单位可以与员工约定违约金的情形只有违反服务期约定和违反竞业限制这两种。(《劳动合同法》第22、23条)。如果本案以劳动争议的案由进行审理,则约定支付违约金的条款可能会被判定无效。

  ③能否作为保密和不竞业的对价

  在股票期权是否能够作为竞业限制的补偿这个问题上,裁判标准不一。

  从两个具有代表性的案例来看,广州市中级人民法院的结论是不支持,理由是支付经济补偿的时间是在劳动合同解除或者终止后,而且补偿金的数额应该是固定的,而股票期权的收益具有不确定性,因而不能作为竞业限制的补偿[(2018)粤01民终619号]。北京市海淀区人民法院的结论则是支持的,理由是刘某所获的限制性股票收益的性质已经具包括竞业限制补偿在内的多种属性,且在数额上远高于竞业限制补偿金的法定标准[(2015)年海民初字第01235号]。

  在这个问题上影响最大的应该是"腾讯上海公司与徐某竞业限制纠纷案"。

  据法院认定,徐某和腾讯公司于2009、2012年先后签署了两份《保密与不竞争承诺协议书》,徐某作出保密与不竞争承诺,腾讯授予徐某限制性股票作为对价,若徐某不履行约定义务,应当承担违约责任,对于已授予还未行使的限制性股票无权再行使;对于已行使限制性股票,则公司有权追索所有任职期间行使限制性股票所生之收益。最终法院认定徐某违反竞业限制判决其支付1940余万违约金。该案件是在"竞业限制纠纷"的案由下审理的。但是竞业限制补偿金设立的初衷是对员工择业自由构成妨碍的一种补偿。根据相关司法解释,每月按员工月平均工资的30%支付即可。而价值高达1940余万元股票期权,与其说是不竞业的补偿,更像一种附义务(保密和不竞业)的赠与。在案由上应该属于劳动争议与合同纠纷交叉的领域。

程序法适用的问题

  第一种做法:先裁后审。因为股票期权纠纷与劳动关系密切相关,因此比较常见的程序仍是先申请劳动仲裁,劳动者在仲裁中提出包括股票期权在内的若干仲裁请求。仲裁机构对股票期权相关的诉求以"不属于劳动合同争议受案范围"为由,裁定不予受理。劳动者再继续起诉到法院,法院或者以劳动争议的案由继续审理;或者驳回后,劳动者再以合同纠纷重新起诉。在这种处理程序中,问题在于:①股票期权纠纷不属于劳动争议,却要经过仲裁的前置程序。②股票期权纠纷可能与其它争议焦点如劳动合同解除的合法性密切相关。如果分别在两个案由下进行处理,不利于案件审理的一致性。③股票期权纠纷的案件往往要在劳动争议案件审理完毕后再另行提起,或是要中止审理等待劳动争议案件的判决,拉长了整个案件的诉讼周期。

  第二种做法:直接以合同纠纷的案由提起民事诉讼。这种诉讼途径在程序法上没有问题,也不需要仲裁前置,但实际上对劳动者更为不利。①在本文第二点所述的违约金等问题的处理上,适用合同法无法体现我国立法对劳动者的保护。②在案件受理费的承担上,因为股票期权涉及的标的额比较大,但是胜诉率极低,会导致劳动者承担高额的案件受理费或因考虑败诉风险而放弃提起诉讼。最终也与保护劳动者利益的初衷相背离。

  目前也有法院试图将股票期权争议纳入劳动争议的受案范围,与其它争议一并处理。但是因为没有程序法上的依据,因此只能将其认定为福利的一种或者劳动关系的组成部分。也有些地方法院直接制定制度依据,将其纳入劳动争议的范围。如合肥市中级人民法院、合肥市劳动人事争议仲裁委员会于2018年7月联合发布了《审理劳动人事争议案件若干问题规范指引》,其中第十条明确规定:用人单位以派送股权等方式进行用工激励或奖励,劳动者与用人单位就该股权分配发生纠纷向劳动人事争议仲裁委员会申请仲裁的,属劳动人事争议,应予受理。《天津经济技术开发区劳动管理规定》第九条:用人单位对高级管理人员和高级专业技术人员除支付货币工资外,还可以采取年薪、利润分成、股权期权等分配方式。

  笔者认为,随着社会经济和科技的发展,劳动关系的运行实践已与劳动法形成之初所设定的作为调整对象的劳动关系渐行渐远,立法滞后于实践。因此应运用立法手段将股票期权等新型分配机制纳入劳动争议的受案范围。在案件审理中:

  首先按照劳动法的原则处理在股票期权激励合同和计划中有关劳动合同解除,服务期、违约金的约定。劳动关系解除或终止的,只有是因不可归责于用人单位的原因时,员工才丧失行权资格。关于服务期、违约金的约定应认定为无效。但是,并非意味着员工无需承担责任,因为,股票期权激励合同作为附条件的赠与合同,所附条件未成就的,赠与合同无效,员工因此获得的收益成为不当得利,应该予以返还。当然,在实务上应考虑劳动者实际工作的年限,按比例返还所获得股权或者收益。

  劳动者在股票期权案件中胜诉率极低,除了程序法上的原因外,还有很多实体法上的原因:如授予股票期权主体有误(并非来自公司,而是由公司股东转让)、员工期权合同事实无法证明、因员工期权计划程序瑕疵或内容瑕疵(约定不明、行权条件不成就、错过行权期)等。此类实体法上的原因多涉及到《公司法》与《合同法》的内容,故不在本文中进行论述。

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In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions