Amazon Restricted Stock Units

Recently, we created an interesting Amazon price prediction for 2040. However, we didn’t discuss Amazon’s restricted stock units, RSU.

amazon benefits

Amazon restricted stock units, or RSU shares, represent vested shares where Amazon employees will get a stake in the company. Still, the stake will have no value until the vesting process. Since the vested units are income for the employee, some shares may be used for paying income tax. The other shares will be transferred to the employee, who can sell them.

Amazon Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a form of equity compensation given to employees, representing a promise to grant Amazon stock at a future date. These RSUs typically come with a vesting schedule, where employees earn the right to the stock over Time, usually subject to continued employment.


Do Amazon employees get stock?

Yes, employees in Amazon who work above 30 hours per week can get Amazon restricted stock unit (RSU) shares in the following way:

Year 1: Amazon base pay + sign-on
Year 2: Amazon base pay + sign-on
Year 3: Amazon base Pay + RSU
Year 4: Amazon base Pay + RSU

Some employers compensate their employees in restricted stock units (RSU), which form company shares. For the eligible employee, a distribution and vesting plan is defined, which specifies the performance milestones that the employee should achieve or the duration for which the employee will remain with the company. Though the employee will get a stake in the company, the stake will have no value until the vesting process is completed. The RSUs have the market value after they are vested.


Amazon Restricted Stock Units Features

  • Type of Compensation: Amazon Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a form of equity-based compensation given to Amazon employees.
  • Vesting Schedule: RSUs typically have a vesting schedule, where the stock is granted to the employee over a set period, often four years.
  • Earning Mechanism: Employees earn the right to the stock as it vests, usually contingent on continued employment with Amazon.
  • Yearly Distribution: The vesting of RSUs often occurs annually, with a more significant portion typically vesting in the later years of the schedule.
  • Taxation: Upon vesting, RSUs are considered taxable income. The value of the stock at the time of vesting is subject to income tax.
  • Selling Restrictions: There may be restrictions on when employees can sell their vested stock, aligning with company policies or regulatory requirements.
  • Performance Link: For some roles, the amount of RSUs granted may be linked to individual or company performance metrics.
  • Long-Term Incentive: RSUs serve as a long-term incentive for employees to stay with the company and contribute to its growth.
  • Financial Planning Consideration: Employees receiving RSUs must consider the impact on their financial planning, including tax implications and investment risks.
  • Market Value Fluctuation: The value of RSUs is tied to Amazon’s stock price, which can fluctuate, affecting the actual compensation value when vested.
  • Non-Cash Compensation: RSUs are non-cash compensation until they are vested and converted into actual stocks.

Companies use different ways to compensate their employees, and RSUs give the employee a stake in the business. There are restrictions on RSUs during the specified vesting period, which may vary since the shares cannot be sold during this period. After the vesting period, they are just like other company shares. While the warrants or stock options may expire without any value, the value of RSUs will vary, depending on the share price. For tax calculations, the income for the year in which RSUs are vested should include the value of all vested RSUs

Restricted Stock Units History

In the mid-2000s, major accounting scandals featured companies like Worldcom and Enron. After these scandals, companies started preferring RSUs for compensating their employees, especially senior executives, instead of stock options. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in 2004 made it mandatory for companies to treat the stock options offered as an accounting expense to make it similar to equity.

Due to tax evasion, malpractice, and scandals, fewer companies chose stock options for retaining and attracting talent after 2004. Instead, RSUs, which were earlier offered to senior management employees, were also offered to other employee levels. From 2003 to 2005, the number of stock options granted by each of the Fortune 1000 firms declined by approximately 40%, while the number of RSUs issued increased by 41%.

Amazon employee stock benefits

  • Restricted Stock Units (RSUs): Amazon employees may receive RSUs as part of their compensation package. These are company shares that vest over a set period, typically four years.
  • Vesting Schedule: The RSUs usually have a graduated vesting schedule where a specific percentage vests yearly, encouraging long-term employment.
  • Performance-Based Awards: Some employees may receive additional RSUs based on individual or company performance.
  • Employee Discount: Amazon employees are offered a discount on products sold and shipped by
  • 401(k) Plan: Employees can participate in a 401(k) plan with a company match, helping in retirement savings.
  • Direct Stock Purchase Plan (DSPP): This allows employees to purchase Amazon stock at a discounted rate, usually through payroll deductions.
  • Health and Welfare Benefits: Comprehensive health care coverage, including medical, dental, and vision, is often tied to employment.
  • Life and Disability Insurance: Amazon provides basic life insurance and short-term and long-term disability insurance for employees.
  • Paid Time Off: Employees receive paid Time off, including vacation, personal, and sick days.
  • Career Development Opportunities: Access to training and development programs to enhance career growth within Amazon.
  • Relocation Assistance: For eligible employees, Amazon offers relocation assistance for those moving for work purposes.
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Support services for personal issues, including counseling and legal advice, usually free.
  • Work-Life Balance Programs: Initiatives like flexible working hours and remote work options for eligible roles.

RSUs are popular since they incentivize the employee to remain with the company for a longer time, helping improve its performance so that the share value increases. Employees who hold shares until the RSU allocation is complete will also receive capital gains if the share price increases, though some shares may be withheld for paying income tax and taxes on the capital gain. Employees prefer RSUs since the administration costs are lower since no shares have to be tracked or recorded. The company can differ in issuing shares till the vesting schedule is completed, so the dilution of shares is delayed.

In other articles, you can read more facts about retirement and 401K and learn what you can do with retirement during the recession.

Let us back on Amazon. Let us analyze bonuses.

Amazon gives a fixed yearly bonus at the beginning of the work year, which is not performance-related. You get the bonus when you start, then at every anniversary.

Restricted Stock Units Limitations

  • Because, at the end of 2nd year, when the sign-on disappears, the base pay would not be the same as CTC in the first year
  • Amazon employees don’t get a hike in sign-on bonuses if they go to a new company.
  • RSUs are heavily market risk dependent.

RSUs do not pay dividends since actual shares are not allocated. Sometimes, the employer can pay the equivalent of a dividend into an escrow account. This amount can be used for paying taxes or reinvested to purchase more shares. The Internal Revenue Code has section 1244, which controls the taxation of restricted shares. The RSU is included in gross income for calculating taxes from when the shares become transferable. Employees cannot pay taxes before the vesting date since they are not considered tangible property by the IRS. The RSUs do not have voting rights till the vesting date. If the employee leaves the company before the vesting date, the remaining shares are forfeited to the issuing company.


RSUs are used extensively to help companies retain their employees since they can profit well if the company’s share prices increase due to its success. In stock options, the price specified is often higher than the market price, so the employee will benefit only if the company share price rises quickly. He can also choose not to purchase shares. In comparison, for RSUs, the employee will receive a fixed amount of shares after remaining with the company for a specified period. This is clearly defined, so he is always going to benefit. Till they are converted to common shares, PSUs do not have voting rights and do not pay dividends in most cases.



Igor has been a trader since 2007. Currently, Igor works for several prop trading companies. He is an expert in financial niche, long-term trading, and weekly technical levels. The primary field of Igor's research is the application of machine learning in algorithmic trading. Education: Computer Engineering and Ph.D. in machine learning. Igor regularly publishes trading-related videos on the Fxigor Youtube channel. To contact Igor write on:

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