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Apple expands executive stock award program to all Apple employees

For years, Apple has given stock awards to valuable high-level employees. Now, even retail employees are eligible.

Apple growth
Image: Sonja Thompson

For a decade, it seemed that Steve Jobs and Jony Ive got most of the credit for Apple selling billions of dollars in electronics. Then, the keynote stage started to grow, especially once Tim Cook took over as CEO.

But still, only a handful of employees get the press (though a few more recently), while there are tens of thousands of Apple employees behind the scenes taking care of customers at retail stores, in AppleCare call centers, and on teams across the company.

Until this week, only those high-level, extremely valuable employees were eligible for one of the best benefits that Apple hands out: the Restricted Stock Unit (RSU). However, that all has changed. Now, every Apple employee can get the valuable award.

Unlike stock options, which give an employee the option to purchase stock at a certain price (and thus can become worthless if the stock price falls below that level), each RSU grants the owner a single share of stock as long as they stay employed with the company for a certain amount of time.

According to an email sent to all Apple employees, RSU grants were typically given to product employees on the recommendation of the management team—and each grant was approved by the Board of Directors, making any widespread RSU awards infeasible. Apple has more than 90,000 full-time equivalent employees.

But the new program allows all employees to receive RSUs. "This new program extends eligibility to everyone not covered by other RSU programs, effectively making everyone who works at Apple eligible for an RSU grant," said Cook in the email, which was obtained by 9to5Mac. "This is an unusual step, and very special—just like our team."

While many employees at Apple are well compensated, both with base salary and the company's standard benefits package, others (particularly in the retail sectors) did not get such hefty pay packages. Though things are reportedly better these days, my own experiences with poor compensation at Apple Retail were publicized in a front-page article in The New York Times.

The new RSU-grant plan is in addition to Apple's long-standing Employee Stock Purchase Plan, which allows employees to purchase discounted Apple stock. 9to5Mac reports that initial grants to employees will range from one to two thousand dollars, with increases based on employee longevity, position, and project.

Cook finished his missive by thanking Apple's employees for their "many contributions to Apple." It appears that Apple is determined to change the environment, both for the planet and its employees.

What do you think about Apple awarding RSUs to all employees, even those at the bottom of corporate ladder? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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About Jordan Golson

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

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