An Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Trust provides employees with a retirement through the company. Employees earn ESOP shares which are awarded annually by the trust to each qualifying employees' account. ESOP shares are subject to vesting requirements, and are held in that trust account until the employee retires, or leaves the company. An ESOP provides employees with an opportunity to contribute to the success of the retirement plan.
The value of the ESOP shares is determined by the total appraised value of the company at the end of each fiscal year.
ESOPs are regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act [ERISA], a federal law that sets minimum standards for investment plans in private industry.