We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Golden Parachute?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

If you are hired in a top-level executive position your employment contract usually has several statements about what types of benefits you can expect to receive if your employment is terminated. These clauses in the contract are called a golden parachute, since they will effectively give the employee a soft, safe and valuable “landing,” if he or she loses his/her job. They can be offered under many different circumstances and the benefits of being fired can be tremendously lucrative.

Frequently golden parachute clauses contain language that states these benefits may only be available if a company is taken over by another company and the employee thus loses his or her job. If enough employees in the upper echelons of a business have golden parachute options in their contracts, it can discourage another company from trying to annex or take over a business. It can cost too much money to provide these benefits for a lot of employees.

Typical benefits in a golden parachute include allowing the employee to own or purchase huge amounts of stock at reduced rates, and giving the employee generous cash or severance pay allowances. In certain circumstances, the golden parachute can include payouts of well over a million dollars, and provides a type of what is called a perverse incentive. This is a type of incentive with unintended consequences. In this case, the hope is that golden parachutes will consequently discourage hostile takeovers.

On the other hand, it can be argued that an unintended consequence of golden parachutes is the possibility that executives might facilitate a takeover of their company in order to benefit from receiving attractive payouts and stock options. These clauses that define end benefits have to be precisely worded, and many argue that in some cases they do not define enough, and people who have no rights to payouts get them. They may not take into account the competency factor. If a company must terminate someone’s job due to lack of competence, the person may still get golden parachute payouts depending upon the precise wording in his or her contract.

Investors can be frustrated by golden parachute options for this specific reason. If job competency is not listed as an important part of earning severance pay, a company can lose money by having to provide parachutes for fired executives. Lower level employees may also pay for these “parachutes,” by losing their jobs if a company must cut back on expenses due to paying large severance amounts to incompetent CEOs.

The golden parachute should not be confused with the golden handshake. This is a related term, and is usually extra bonuses or severance pay meant to encourage long time workers to retire more quickly. For doing so, they’ll receive better retirement options and clear the way for a company to hire workers at a lower rate of pay.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Buster29 — On Oct 22, 2014

My uncle had a golden parachute clause in his employment with a very large but increasingly obsolete company. When computers started becoming popular, his company had no products that could compete with them. When it became obvious that the company was sinking fast, most of the top executives, including my uncle, pulled the rip cords on their golden parachutes. He had enough money to invest in a start-up technology company, and he eventually did very well.

By Inaventu — On Oct 21, 2014

In a way, I'm envious of people who manage to get golden parachutes worked into their employment contracts. I suppose it does take the fear of financial hardship out of the equation. I'd work really hard for a company, too, if I knew all along I'd have a large cushion of money waiting for me if something went wrong.

However, I also think giving certain people a golden parachute might have the opposite effect on them. Instead of working harder, they might just decide to do as little as they need to in order to keep the title. If I knew I was financially protected either way, I might not fight so hard for my company during a hostile takeover attempt, for instance.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.