The simplest explanation:

Employee ownership is when employees have a say and a stake in the company they work for. 

Ownership occurs in a variety of ways – from employees directly owning shares in the company, to having shares held on behalf of employees in an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). 

Employees can own the whole company, or a portion of it. If employees own a portion, a percentage will also be owned by other stakeholders – e.g. the original founder-owner of the company, or an external investor. Dive into our FAQs to discover more.

But to deliver truly Great EO, most employee owned companies also have a level of employee governance. This means employees get a say in how the company is run. Here's where the EO Framework enters the equation.

The EO sector continues to flourish. With approximately 1,650 employee owned businesses across the UK and counting, growth is exponential. 

For too long, we didn't have the data needed to quantify the impact EO businesses were having on the economy. That all changed with the release of the EO Knowledge Programme

How to Become Employee Owned

Whether you’re a company owner, employee, business adviser, or work in a public service, we’re here to help you on your journey. 

Explore how eoa membership can help you connect to a thriving community, get your questions answered, open the doors to exclusive learning and events, and support you on your EO journey.

No matter what stage you're at.

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The History of EO in the UK

Employee owned companies have existed in the UK for decades. Two of the earliest businesses to take up the model were John Lewis and Scott Bader in 1929 and 1951 respectively. Both businesses are also proud members of the eoa community, regularly sharing their insights, knowledge, and expertise.

In 1979, our founder, Robert Oakeshott, established Job Ownership Limited (JOL) and began campaigning for the UK and other European governments to back incentives for businesses to share ownership with their employees. In 2007, JOL formally became the Employee Ownership Association. 

Robert’s campaign had a major impact, eventually resulting in the introduction of Ownership Trusts (EOTs) in the UK in 2014. EOTs provide a simple and cost effective way for companies to become EO. Since 2014, the number of EO businesses in the UK has skyrocketed to more than 1,650 businesses.