By filing a Form S-8 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a business can register those securities that it has awarded to its employees under the terms of an employee benefit plan. The plan can be used to register a number of issuances of securities, such as:
- Common stock
- Restricted stock units
- Stock options
- Stock purchases allowed under an employee stock purchase plan
The following individuals can all have their securities registered with a Form S-8 filing:
- Employees of the issuer
- Family of employees, if they receive securities through an employee gift
- Directors of the issuer
- Officers of the issuer
- General partners of the issuer
- Consultants providing services to the issuer
In the last case, securities issued to consultants can only be registered under the Form S-8 if the services provided by the consultants are not related to the sale of securities by the issuer.
The Form S-8 is especially useful for the following reasons:
- The form is considered effective as soon as the issuer files it, which is much faster than the usual registration process.
- The form requires little time to complete, in comparison to the vastly more elaborate Form S-1 that is used for other types of securities registrations.
The Form S-8 would be used more frequently, but it is restricted to those organizations that:
- Are publicly held, and
- Which have been timely in submitting their reports to the SEC for the past 12 months, and
- Which have not been classified as a shell company for at least the preceding 60 days.
In summary, the Form S-8 is much easier to use than other securities registration methods, but it is mostly applicable to shares issued to employees under employee benefit plans, which limits its use.