The first use of the term “golden parachute” is attributed to a 1961 creditors` attempt to oust Howard Hughes from control of Trans World Airlines. The creditors provided Charles C. Tillinghast Jr. with an employment contract that contained a clause that would pay him money if he lost his job.  Over the past two decades, there have been many widely known recipients of golden parachutes. Former British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward received $1 million, with a pension of nearly $12 million, after being fired for “misbehaviour” following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The employment contract of Carly Fiorina, former president and CEO of Hewlett Packard, allowed her to obtain more than $65 million after her dismissal in 2005. She lost her job because of performance issues. Gold parachutes are usually included in contracts for senior executives at Level C (Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Legal Officer), but they sometimes appear in contracts for executive vice presidents and other top officers as well. Following the merger between Coors and Molson, eleven Coors executives resigned because they had payment arrangements in their contracts for the change of control. However, none of Molson`s executives resigned because they were not subject to such provisions. Set clear conditions for what triggers parachute payment.
Some agreements may only require the company to go through a change of control, which could result in an executive receiving a high payment from a merger while maintaining his or her employment. Other agreements may require that the change of control occur and that the recipient loses his position. Make sure the terms and conditions are in line with each party`s expectation of payment date. Golden Parachute, a provision of an employment contract that grants lucrative compensation to an executive when control of the company changes ownership, such as through a merger. Most of the definitions proposed by the legal authorities highlight three elements: (1) a lucrative or attractive severance package, (2) available to selected executives, (3) in a situation of change of control for the company. Some also define it as compensation for a Chief Executive Officer or another C-level director for the loss of his or her job. Others do not limit their availability to those who actually lose their jobs, but also extend it to those who lose their status in the event of a change of control. In the event of redundancies due to reductions or mergers, organizations sometimes pay severance pay or redundancy costs to employees. The usual severance practices range from one to two weeks` salary for each year the employee worked for the organization.
Severance pay may also extend to executives, with some executives earning six to 12 months and a proportional bonus in the event of termination. In general, the concept of a golden parachute refers to the high severance pay paid when a change of control results in termination of employment. However, for tax reasons, changing the control of companies is the deciding factor and the payment should not consist in compensating for the termination, but could be any type of compensation. It is also useful to distinguish a golden parachute from a normal severance pay. As a general rule, an employee dismissed for dismissal does not receive severance pay, and the same is true if the employee voluntarily withdraws. However, a Level C manager who is fired for reasons or simply resigns may obtain a golden parachute depending on the terms of the employment contract. Here is a list of the top 10 largest golden parachutes in 2016: parachute payments are considered excessive 20 percent extra excise due by the recipient of the payment.