- a special incentive, as generous severance pay, given to an older employee as an inducement to elect early retirement.
- the giving or offering of such an incentive.
- informal a sum of money, usually large, given to an employee, either on retirement in recognition of long or excellent service or as compensation for loss of employment
Generous severance pay to an employee, often as an incentive for early retirement. For example, With a dwindling school population, the town decided to offer golden handshakes to some of the teachers. This slangy business term dates from the mid-1900s. A close relative is golden parachute, a generous severance agreement for an executive in the event of sudden dismissal owing to a merger or similar circumstance. This expression first appeared about 1980.