Determination of the vesting period
Service commencement date and grant date – The ‘vesting period’ is the period during which all of the specified vesting conditions are to be satisfied in order for the employees to be entitled unconditionally to the equity instrument. Normally, this is the period between grant date and the vesting date. (IFRS 2.A)
However, services are recognised when they are received and grant date may occur after the employees have begun rendering services. Grant date is a measurement date only. If grant date occurs after the service commencement date, then the entity estimates the grant-date fair value of the equity instruments for the purpose of recognising the services from the service commencement date until grant date.
A possible method of estimating the fair value of the equity instruments is by assuming that grant date is at the reporting date. Once grant date has been established, the entity revises the earlier estimates so that the amounts recognised for services received are based on the grant-date fair value of the equity instruments. In our view, this revision should be treated as a change in estimate. (IFRS 2.IG4, IGEx1A, IGEx2)
Case – Service commencement date before grant date
On 1 January Year 1, Company B sets up an arrangement in which the employees receive share options, subject to a four-year service condition. The total number of equity instruments granted will be determined objectively based on B’s profit in Year 1. The total number of options will be allocated to employees who started service on or before 1 January Year 1.
Significant subjective factors are involved in determining the number of instruments allocated to each individual employee and B concludes that grant date should be postponed until the outcome of the subjective evaluations is known in April Year 2 – i.e. subsequent to the approval of the financial statements for the reporting period ending 31 December Year 1.
Because the subjective factors are determined only in April Year 2, grant date cannot be before this date. However, in this case there is a clearly defined performance period, commencing on 1 January Year 1, which indicates that the employees have begun rendering their services before grant date. Accordingly, B recognises the cost of the services received from the date on which service commences – i.e. 1 January Year 1.
The estimate used in the Year 1 financial statements is based on an estimate of the fair value, assuming that grant date is 31 December Year 1. This estimate will be revised in April Year 2 when the fair value at grant date is determined.
Assume that B estimates on 31 December Year 1 that the grant-date fair value of an equity instrument granted will be 10 and the actual fair value on grant date of April Year 2 is 9. Based on preliminary profit figures, B further estimates at 31 December Year 1 that the total number of equity instruments granted will be 100, which is confirmed by the final profit figure. If all instruments are expected to and actually do vest, then the accounting is as follows.
1. 100 x 10.