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Executive Excise Tax Gross-up Agreement

Executive Compensation Plan Agreement

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 This Executive Compensation Plan Agreement involves


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Governing Law: New York     Date: 5/9/2005
Industry: Business Services    

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This agreement (the “Agreement”) is made effective as of May 6, 2005 by and between Hudson Highland Group, Inc. (the “Company”) and Jon F. Chait (the “Executive”).


WHEREAS, the Company wishes to continue to employ the Executive and the Executive wishes to continue to be employed, in each case subject to the terms and conditions set forth below.


NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the conditions and mutual covenants contained in this Agreement, the parties agree as follows:


1. Covered Termination . If a Change in Control (as defined below) occurs when the Executive is employed by the Company and there is any termination of the Executive’s employment during the period commencing on the date of a Change in Control and ending on the first anniversary of such date (the “Employment Period”) (subject to Section 4) by the Executive for Good Reason (as defined below), or by the Company other than by reason of (i) the Executive’s death, (ii) the Executive’s Disability (as defined below), or (iii) Cause (as defined below) (a “Covered Termination”), then the Executive shall be entitled to receive the benefits set forth in Section 2.


2. Excise Tax Gross-Up .


(a) If any payment under this Agreement, or under any other agreement with or plan of the Company (in the aggregate, “Total Payments”), would constitute an “excess parachute payment” as defined in Section 280G (or any successor provision) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, including any amendments thereto or any successor tax codes thereof (the “Code”), then the Company shall pay the Executive an additional amount (the “Gross-Up Payment”) such that the net amount retained by the Executive after deduction of any excise tax imposed under Section 4999 (or any successor provision) of the Code and any interest charges or penalties in respect of the imposition of such excise tax (collectively, the “Excise Tax”) (but not any federal, state or local income tax, or employment tax) on the Total Payments, and any federal, state and local income tax, employment tax, and excise tax upon the payment provided for by this Section 2(a), shall be equal to the Total Payments. For purposes of determining the amount of the Gross-Up Payment, the Executive shall be deemed to pay federal income tax and employment taxes at the highest marginal rate of federal income and employment taxation in the calendar year in which the Gross-Up Payment is to be made and state and local income taxes at the highest marginal rate of taxation in the state and locality of the Executive’s domicile for income tax purposes on the date the Gross-Up Payment is made, net of the maximum reduction in federal income taxes that may be obtained from the deduction of such state and local taxes. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if it shall be determined that the Executive is entitled to a Gross-Up Payment, but that the

Total Payments would not be subject to the Excise Tax if the Total Payments were reduced by an amount that is less than 10% of the Total Payments that would be treated as “parachute payments” under Section 280G (or any successor provision) of the Code, then the amounts payable to the Executive under this Agreement shall be reduced (but not below zero) to the maximum amount that could be paid to the Executive without giving rise to the Excise Tax (the “Safe Harbor Cap”), and no Gross-Up Payment shall be made to the Executive. For purposes of reducing the Total Payments to the Safe Harbor Cap, only amounts payable under this Agreement (and no other Total Payments) shall be reduced. If the reduction of the amounts payable hereunder would not result in a reduction of the Total Payments to the Safe Harbor Cap, no amounts payable under this Agreement shall be reduced pursuant to this provision.


(b) For purposes of this Agreement, the terms “excess parachute payment” and “parachute payments” shall have the meanings assigned to them in Section 280G (or any successor provision) of the Code and such “parachute payments” shall be valued as provided therein. Present value for purposes of this Agreement shall be calculated in accordance with Section 1274(b)(2) (or any successor provision) of the Code. Promptly following a Covered Termination or notice by the Company to the Executive of its belief that there is a payment or benefit due the Executive which will result in an “excess parachute payment” as defined in Section 280G of the Code (or any successor provision), the Executive and the Company, at the Company’s expense, shall obtain the opinion (which need not be unqualified) of nationally recognized tax counsel (“National Tax Counsel”) selected by the Company’s independent auditors and reasonably acceptable to the Executive (which may be regular outside counsel to the Company), which opinion sets forth (i) the amount of the Base Period Income, (ii) the amount and present value of Total Payments, (iii) the amount and present value of any excess parachute payments, and (iv) the amount of any Gross-Up Payment or the reduction of any Total Payments to the Safe Harbor Cap, as the case may be. As used in this Agreement, the term “Base Period Income” means an amount equal to the Executive’s “annualized includable compensation for the base period” as defined in Section 280G(d)(1) (or any successor provision) of the Code. For purposes of such opinion, the value of any noncash benefits or any deferred payment or benefit shall be determined by the Company’s independent auditors in accordance with the principles of Section 280G(d)(3) and (4) (or any successor provisions) of the Code, which determination shall be evidenced in a certificate of such auditors addressed to the Company and the Executive. The opinion of National Tax Counsel shall be addressed to the Company and the Executive and shall be binding upon the Company and the Executive. If such National Tax Counsel so requests in connection with the opinion required by this Section 2(b), the Executive and the Company shall obtain, at the Company’s expense, and the National Tax Counsel may rely on, the advice of a firm of recognized executive compensation consultants as to the reasonableness of any item of compensation to be received by the Executive solely with respect to its status under Section 280G of the Code and the regulations thereunder. Within five (5) days after the National Tax Counsel’s opinion is received by the



Company and the Executive, the Company shall pay (or cause to be paid) or distribute (or cause to be distributed) to or for the benefit of the Executive such amounts as are then due to the Executive under this Agreement.


(c) In the event that upon any audit by the Internal Revenue Service, or by a state or local taxing authority, of the Total Payments or Gross-Up Payment, a change is finally determined to be required in the amount of taxes paid by the Executive, appropriate adjustments shall be made under this Agreement such that the net amount which is payable to the Executive after taking into account the provisions of Section 4999 (or any successor provision) of the Code shall reflect the intent of the parties as expressed in this Section 2, in the manner determined by the National Tax Counsel.


(d) The Company agrees to bear all costs associated with, and to indemnify and hold harmless, the National Tax Counsel of and from any and all claims, damages, and expenses resulting from or relating to its determinations pursuant to this Section 2, except for claims, damages or expenses resulting from the gross negligence or willful misconduct of such firm.


3. Additional Benefits . If there is a Covered Termination, then the Company shall bear up to $15,000 in the aggregate of fees and expenses of consultants and/or legal or accounting advisors engaged by the Executive to advise the Executive as to matters relating to the computation of benefits due and payable under Section 2.


4. Anticipatory Termination . Anything in this Agreement to the contrary notwithstanding, if a Change in Control occurs and if the Executive’s employment with the Company is terminated (other than a termination due to the Executive’s death or as a result of the Executive’s Disability) during the period of 180 days prior to the date on which the Change in Control occurs, and if it is reasonably demonstrated by the Executive that such termination of employment (a) was at the request of a third party who has taken steps reasonably calculated to effect a Change in Control or (b) otherwise arose in connection with or in anticipation of a Change in Control, then for all purposes of Sections 1 and 2 such termination of employment shall be deemed a “Covered Termination”.


5. Expenses and Interest . If, after a Change in Control of the Company, (a) a dispute arises with respect to the enforcement of the Executive’s rights under this Agreement or (b) any legal or arbitration proceeding shall be brought to enforce or interpret any provision contained herein or to recover damages for breach hereof, in either case so long as the Executive is not acting in bad faith, then the Company shall reimburse the Executive for any reasonable attorneys’ fees and necessary costs and disbursements incurred as a result of the dispute, legal or arbitration proceeding (“Expenses”), and prejudgment interest on any money judgment or arbitration award obtained by the Executive calculated at the rate of interest announced by The Bank of New York, from time to time at its prime or base lending rate from the date that payments to him or her should have been made under this Agreement. Within ten days after the Executive’s written request therefor, the Company shall pay to the Executive, or such

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