a coworker who I referred to a job is demanding I share my referral bonus with him

A reader writes:

A couple of months ago, I bumped into a former coworker, Fergus, from my previous company. We chatted for a few minutes and he mentioned he’d recently started a job search because he felt he was underpaid in his current role. He volunteered his salary, which was shockingly low. I did not comment on his salary, but when he asked how I liked my current employer (which is a big name in our field), I told him honestly that I really enjoyed the work and culture. Because I had nothing but good experiences working with him, I told him that I’d be happy to submit his resume through our internal referral program if he found a position that piqued his interest.

A few days later, he reached out through LinkedIn and sent me a job posting he was interested in. It was a very similar role to what he’d been doing and I was confident in his success. I disclosed that I’d get a bonus if he was hired from my referral and informed him that he could apply cold if he preferred. He replied that he knew a referral would give him better chances, so I went ahead and submitted it. He did wonderfully in the interviews and was hired. He sent me a thank-you note after he was hired and disclosed that he’d gotten a massive pay bump (which is what I’d expected after he’d told me his salary).

I took him to lunch on his first day (my treat). During lunch, he asked me how I wanted to send him “his half” of my referral bonus. I explained that’s not how it works, and he acted shocked. He accused me of getting all the benefits with none of the work and said it wasn’t fair for me to get paid for doing nothing. I just told him that’s how the referral program works, and his benefit was the new job and salary. I also encouraged him to refer qualified former colleagues for jobs at our company so he could get the bonus. He scoffed and refused to engage in any other topic for the rest of lunch. Since then, he’s behaved absolutely icily on the rare occasions we are near each other. We do not work in the same department, fortunately.

Am I wrong to not share my bonus with him? I checked with a few colleagues and they all say they’ve never shared, but a few told me I should just split it with him to calm him down.

What, no. There’s not normally an expectation that you’ll share a referral bonus with the person who gets hired.

I don’t know what gave Fergus that idea — maybe he’s thinking of those programs some retailers run where if you refer a new customer you’ll both get $X off your next purchase — but he’s wrong.

Referral bonuses are set up by companies to incentive their employees to refer good candidates. The candidate’s reward is the job and the salary. The referral bonus is payment to you for finding and flagging someone good enough that they were hired.

It’s fine that Fergus didn’t know that. But you explained how the referral program worked and he scoffed at you and is now freezing you out, even though you helped him get a job with a massive new salary. He’s basically saying that he thinks you’re lying about something he could easily discover was true if he bothered to do a little research. He’s being an ass.

You shouldn’t give in and split the bonus with him now just to keep the peace. First, that’s your money, not his. Second, he sounds unreasonable enough on this point that he’d be likely to take that as an admission that you were wrong and would continue to think you attempted to screw him out of money he was entitled to and that it was only because he confronted you that you finally and reluctantly did the right thing. In other words, either way it sounds like this relationship is … well, if not fully burnt, certainly a bit toasted. You might as well keep the money that’s rightfully yours.

{ 359 comments… read them below }

  1. Precious Wentletrap*

    Lunch on the person who got the bonus is the standard share, Ferg. You want the bonus, find someone else’s resume.

    1. kat*

      That’s always been what my friend does. I’ve actually gotten a job through his referral twice now, and each time he took me to lunch. I did not demand half his bonus?? That sounds so… weird.

    2. Antilles*

      Honestly, given that he got a massive pay bump away from his “shockingly low” salary, you could argue that Fergus should have paid for lunch too as a thank-you – OP may have gotten a few hundred bucks or whatever, but Fergus’ extra salary is probably an order of magnitude above that like a few thousand.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          WhatwhatWHAT!

          I mean, good for your industry! (No sarcasm.) I’m just shocked.

          I was guessing it was like $200.

          1. Anita*

            30k for new graduates, bonus for lateral transfers is at least 50k.

            A few months ago, I advised a colleague to speak with a friend who referred him to his company. Colleague was hired, then ghosted friend on submitting referral paperwork on his end, claiming he “talked to several people” at the firm and can’t say definitively who referred him. He’s dead to me now.

            1. Wow*

              He’s dead to me too and I don’t even know him. It’s not like the referral is coming out of his paycheck, right?

              1. Anita*

                He is terrible. He struck out during the recruiting season due to poor interview skills. I referred him to a friend who does coaching in this area. He got the job after a few sessions with her and NEVER TOLD HER, OR THE PERSON WHO REFERRED HIM, THAT HE GOT THE JOB, EVEN AFTER I REMINDED HIM THAT HE OUGHT TO CIRCLE BACK because they helped him and are invested in his success. I didn’t even know about the referral bonus, much less about the amount at stake. The worst part is that I TOLD HIM MY FRIEND WOULD GIVE HIM 1/3 IF HE FOLLOWED THROUGH ON THE PROCESS. This guy is the worst.

            2. TK*

              As someone in the public sector where referral bonuses aren’t a thing, it’s hard to even express how mind-blowingly crazy those numbers are, lol.

              1. Anita*

                So much about the legal profession seems bizarre to me. As far as I can tell, the firms paying these bonuses could hire top students at great regional schools for a fraction of the price, but they choose instead to bid up prices for students from a handful of schools that frankly, I’m not totally convinced offer a better education.

                Any attorneys reading: you can reach out on LinkedIn to ANY associate at a firm offering a referral bonus (Sidley is the big one right now and you can search Fishbowl for more ideas). They are very eager to refer people, so much so that some are cold calling attorneys themselves to try to find potential recruits.

              2. londonedit*

                Seriously! I *think* we might get £100 or something, and this is the first company I’ve worked for where referall bonuses even exist. $30k would equate to just about an entire junior editor’s yearly salary in publishing.

                1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  Ten years ago I worked at a big law firm that would offer around £500 for a successful support staff referral, and £1000-3000 for a professional referral. I’m not sure what it would look like now as I got out of Big Law.

                  In any case, the referral bonus was only payable when the referred new hire was permanent, so typically 3-6 months after starting.

              3. Queen of the Introverts*

                Marketing industry here. My company referral bonus is $50 if they interview, $500 if they get hired.

          2. Essess*

            Mine in the IT industry are between 2000 and 6000 depending on the role level and whether the person is a diversity hire. My previous company was around the same bonus, except you got half when the person was hired and the other half if they stayed for 6 months.

            1. Yorick*

              I’ve known people in IT who got something like $2 an hour for the hours the person worked. So you get steady income after making a successful referral.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                That seems really weird to me, and like it would be a real hassle to set up. Maybe it’s based off of how temp or hiring agencies get paid?

          3. fhqwhgads*

            Yeah, my last two referral bonuses were $350 and $500. Anita’s industry seems to be a different league.

          4. Wenike*

            My company I believe actually pays out twice for a referral bonus, about $3k or so (but that was well before the pandemic and I’m pretty sure since I work in healthcare that if I referred a medical professional I’d get a much higher bonus). Our bonuses don’t pay out on hire though, at 90 days and I believe 1 year are when you’d get the money.

        2. JP in the heartland*

          Wow! At my nonprofit, it’s $500 (and you don’t get anything until the person you referred has been here 6 months).

        3. hayling*

          Wow! Ours I are $4k for most roles, $5k for “priority roles” (urgent or hard to fill), and I work at a high-growth tech company.

          1. Anita*

            This is more normal and occasionally the bonus is higher if you refer a diverse candidate.

        4. tamarack and fireweed*

          Last I worked in a job that had this, it was in the low-to-mid four figures. I think I got GBP 2000 when referring someone (who I’m happy to say made an excellent career there) onto a “second job out of college” type position at my former industry employer 12 years ago.

        5. Antilles*

          Wow, that’s incredibly high; most places I’ve seen are somewhere between a few hundred bucks and a few thousand.
          But regardless, I do think the point still holds that whatever bonus OP got is still well exceeded by the salary bump Fergus got…and that there’s a fair argument that the “thank you for this” should go the other way.

        6. H.C.*

          $10-20k here (half upon hire, half contingent on new hire staying at least a year) but it’s healthcare (and that referral bonus figure was pre-Covid, I can only imagine that figure being higher now – given the situation.)

          1. Jay*

            Also healthcare. Four years ago for providers ours was 3K. It’s now up to 5k for most markets and 10k for high-priority spots where we’ve had a hard time filling the jobs. I referred a friend shortly after I was hired and I took him and his family out for a VERY nice dinner when I got the money. That’s how this works.

        7. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I need to know what your industry is. I’m at a multinational engineering firm and our referral bonuses are between $1000 and $5000 depending on the grade classification.

          Wowza!

          1. Anita*

            Google “biglaw referral bonus.” Haven’t seen an authoritative list but I believe Above The Law recently reported that one firm was offering 75k. Starting salary for new associates is now 210k.

            1. A lawyer*

              I often have to remind myself that the Biglaw salary is not worth it, at least not for a lazy bones like me. My Biglaw friend makes double what I do, but she bills more than double what I do.

          2. ScruffyInternHerder*

            Adjacent to A/E here (construction) and this figure sounds pretty accurate here as well.

            The five figure referral bonuses are just crazy to me!

        8. Quiet Liberal*

          Ok, seeing how much referral bonuses can be, really don’t share with Fergus. Isn’t the OP taxed on that bonus? (If in the US, of course. I don’t know how that’s handled in other countries). How would taxes work if they then gave him half of it? Weird.

          1. Anonomatopoeia*

            This is what I was thinking, too. I’d be big mad about paying all the taxes on like $500 and splitting it, but if it’s $20K, thankyouhowaboutno.

        9. Susan Ivanova*

          Wow. Highest one at previous very big tech company was $10K for an extremely valuable skill; $2K was more typical. Nearly all my team at the company before that one ended up at previous, and it was just a daisy chain of referral bonuses as we came on board. (No, none of us had the $10K skill.)

      1. BatManDan*

        I would definitely feel that the person that received the job should be taking the established employee to lunch. Fergus has some nerve, for sure.

        1. Anita*

          I think the etiquette is for the bonus recipient to treat first if the bonus is more than a nominal amount (let’s say, over 2 weeks base pay after taxes paid on the bonus). I’d like to see a poll to feel out consensus on this point.

    3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Exactly.
      As Fergus now has access to the terms of the referral program (usually on the company intranet, employee handbook, or through HR), OP can just point him there.

    4. Gordon*

      Depending on where the writer is from, I would imagine the referral bonus is taxable making it even more hers to retain in its entirety.

    5. Frank_H*

      Your ‘friend’ is an ungrateful chancer.
      You helped him get a new job, at your risk (if he turns out bad) and he expects a reward?
      He’s an entitled ass.
      Keep your distance, he’ll want you to do his work next.

  2. Rae*

    He said he knew that a referral would give him a better chance.

    That’s it! That’s his benefit in this process!

    He sounds like a bit of a loon.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Very much this. He explicitly acknowledged the benefit he derived from the referral.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Plus she told him he could apply directly if the bonus made him uncomfortable, so that was his other option. There’s no option where he gets her bonus money.

        1. Koalafied*

          Right, if the company intended for bonus money to be split between the referrer and the candidate, they would pay a referral bonus to the referrer and a sign-on bonus to the candidate, all above board and reported to the IRS. Not give the entire thing to the referrer and expect them to “tip out” the new hire under-the-table!

    2. Anonym*

      Yeah, referral bonuses are between the company and the referrer. Refer-ee is not part of the equation. They get… a powerful advantage in getting a job. The company offers these to incentivize good referrals and thus stronger, lower risk hires. It’s a good faith interaction between OP and the company, not a weird scam between OP and Fergus to milk the company for more money.

      Is Fergus confusing this with a sign on bonus?

      1. Arrghhhhh*

        The company that I work with has a standard policy of offering a courtesy HR interview to referee’s. Basically, if I or anyone else at our company submits your resume, you are guaranteed to at least go through an initial discussion with HR. They also pay us $1000 (split into three payments – 90 days, 6 months and at 1 year) if the candidate is successfully hired and stays. It is a huge advantage and as far as I know open to all levels at the organization.

    3. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      This post should give rise to a new category (which I’m sure would apply to many other AAM posts):

      “Chutzpah”

    4. L.H. Puttgrass*

      “He accused me of getting all the benefits with none of the work and said it wasn’t fair for me to get paid for doing nothing?”

      OP didn’t do “nothing”—OP referred a qualified candidate that the company hired. It didn’t end up being a ton of effort for OP, but OP did the thing that entitles them to the bonus.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        Exactly. And by making the referral, OP put her professional reputation behind her recommendation. While I doubt someone would be seriously damaged by referring a bad hire, there is some risk involved.

      2. Semi-average*

        Actually OP puts their judgement and reputation at risk whenever they refer someone for a job. If the refer-ee turns out to be a dud (or worse) OP may get some side eye next time they refer someone

      3. Anonym*

        Yeah, OP put her reputation on the line and delivered value to the company through her knowledge, experience and personal network.

      4. Kay*

        Part of that “nothing” was disclosing the bonus and offering an alternative!! The OP was so above board in the way of disclosures on this, not to mention the lunch, it makes me so irritated they are now the subject of an extortion scheme.

        OP you are so in the clear – I’ll be very upset if you give in to this guys demands – keep that money! (and perhaps not refer this guy again)

    5. Anon and on an on*

      He specifically did not say, “how much is it?” followed by, “sweet, I can use 1/2 amount” at the time.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        He also responded to OP offering to let him apply *without* a referral by citing the referral would help, not by saying “Why would I pass up money?”

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, I think in a lot of cases I could understand someone misunderstanding and maybe being a bit disappointed… but it sounds like OP actually even spelled this out pretty clearly!

  3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Not just what AAM says – but YOU are assuming the tax burden on the referral bonus.

    It is NOT beyond the realm of possibility to give your friend a gift – example, if you got a $5000 bonus, you might gift him and his partner a nice resort weekend (for $1000?) but keep the rest.

    You also took a gamble on referring the individual because if he/she doesn’t work out in the job – it’s on YOU.

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Phew, if I got a $5k referral bonus, I would take the person out to really nice dinner as celebration – like $100-200 total for two. Absolutely I would not give someone a nice resort weekend for 20% of the bonus money.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I mean if someone really wanted to give their referee a gift, that’s up to them, but it’s definitely not expected or standard. They get a leg up in hiring; you get the money. That’s the deal.

    3. Koli*

      I really don’t think a gift of $1000 value would be appropriate at all in this situation. In fact, many companies have policies against employees providing any sort of incentive for people to use them as a referral, i.e., a kickback, which this sounds awfully similar to.

    4. CocoB*

      Exactly, the OP has to pay taxes on that money. Giver Fergus a tax-free bonus… that’s a big no in my book. Lunch and if it’s a large amount maybe a bottle of wine or a gift card is a nice gesture.
      Keep your bonus and don’t feel guilty.

  4. Choggy*

    Fergis is an ass. You let him know up front that you’d be getting a referral bonus if he went through the process, he got the job from you not only letting him know about your great company but through the referral process presumably, and yet he thinks he’s entitled to half the “referral” bonus? Fergus is an ass. You have nothing to apologize for and definitely do not give him one red cent.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I get the impression Fergus would have been quite indignant if he hadn’t gotten the job. Far too many think referral = offer. It gets you higher up in the process. That’s it (or should be in a high functioning company)

    2. Yessica Haircut*

      “Sure thing, Fergus! I’ll give you YOUR half of my referral bonus right after you set up your direct deposit to send MY half of your salary increase to my bank account.”

    1. Made up Name*

      “Dearest Fergus,

      Upon contemplation, I do not want this referral bonus to sour what until now has been a collegial relationship. As such, I have reached out to HR to let them know that I am rescinding my referral. You aren’t still in your probationary period are you?”

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        “And so there is no animosity over referrals and who-owes-whom going forward, please do not use me as a reference.”

        1. RetailEscapee*

          I love this. I think I would let Ferguson know that this question has made me rethink their judgment and I will not be able to act as a reference going forward, nor will I support them internally.

    2. The OTHER Other*

      I hope Fergus is better at his job than this whole incident seems to indicate. Yikes!

  5. Choggy*

    I also wanted to add, the person who helped me get a job with a great company and a nice pay bump would get lunch ON ME.

    1. Shenandoah*

      Right?! A friend referred me to my current company (resulting substantial raise), and I was delighted that he got some cash for making the connection. I was broke at the time, so was very happy he bought me lunch though hahaha.

    2. GS*

      Yeah – I referred someone I knew through work (not super well but had good interactions with) to a new role that helped them make a pivot a bit industry-wise. They took me out for coffee and we chatted about how it was going. This feels reasonable to me.

    3. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Yes! I took out my last one for lunch as a thank you. And the one before that (in 1999), I bought him a gift.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Me too! If someone helped me advance my career, I owe them. I might calculate the thank you based on multiple factors; if they got a referral bonus, I owe them a really nice coffee as a thank you, but if they didn’t get a referral bonus, I would owe them lunch. But I would be the one indebted either way.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I once got a great consulting project thanks to a referral, and took them for dinner at their favorite steak house. You can bet I had already thanked them verbally and via email for their support, but it’s nice to say it with a ribeye and really good wine.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Or even half the difference between his old and new salaries.

        That’s along the lines of what I was thinking if OP is completely done with Fergus. “I’ll trade you the entire recruitment bonus for the raise amount for your first year, Fergie.”

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          “Fergie” is the most important piece of this to ensure he really knows what’s up.

    1. Can Can Cannot*

      Maybe not half of his salary, but certainly half of the “bump” that he received. It’s only fair.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I think the reset of business norms (due in part to the pandemic) has brought out Firebrand Alison.

        1. Anon and on an on*

          I’ve been waiting for a good, “X is a loon.” reply for awhile now.
          That one and “out of his gourd” are my favorites.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Either that or she’s visited the UK too much because that’s exactly the kind of evil I’d come up with :)

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Yes! My sarcastic ass was like “sure you split the bonus if he splits half his increase with you”. After all, if he claims you only have the bonus because of him, he most certainly only has his new salary because of you!

    3. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      Not going to lie, I came to the comments section certain that someone had said this. I’m pleased that it was you. :) “Sure, I’ll split the referral bonus with you. In exchange, of course, I’ll expect half of your salary increase.”

    4. lex talionis*

      If my company discovered I split a referral bonus with a hiree they would consider it collusion. Not a good look for me.

    5. Jessica Fletcher*

      Ha!

      OP, another reason not to give him the money is that your company probably will include it as part of your (taxable) income. If you wrote him a check for half, he’d get the money tax-free.

    1. Hills to Die On*

      I wonder if he is new to the work world. Or he thinks it’s because he found the role he wanted. As if she should go find him jobs that he should apply to? And if he were that confident in it, why didn’t he bring it up sooner?
      It’s really odd. and off base.

      1. hmmm*

        I’m going with not new to the workforce. He had a job and most companies have similar type referal incentives. I think this is a case of Fergus being very naive or ver entitled. Either way he was told the way his current company works, he was notified before applying that OP would get the bonus… I don’t know how Fergus could misinterpret things. Ugh… some people!

        1. Metadata minion*

          Maybe he’s coming from the nonprofit world or something? Most companies that do referral bonuses have similar arrangements, but there are plenty of fields where they’re just not a thing.

          1. Susanna*

            Seriously? What company would split the referral bonus? The referral-ee is getting a JOB. With PAY. The point of referral bonuses is to encourage employees to help find people who would fit in with the company culture and succeed there. Fergus is just a jerk.

            1. Crimson*

              Even if he had been living under a rock, it doesn’t excuse this behavior. Any level of common sense will tell you that if the money isn’t paid to you, the company doesn’t intend for you to have it.

          2. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Never heard of that.

            I have heard of signing bonuses, but, not the new hire getting a portion of the referral bonus

            1. Metadata minion*

              I think my comment may have been unclear — I was trying to say that Fergus may not know how referral bonuses work despite not being new to the workplace because in some industries they’re not a thing at all.

          3. Workin' 9 to 5*

            Yeah, in the nonprofit world…not a thing. I have referred a few people in the 15 years I’ve been here and the most of I’ve gotten is “thanks” from either my employer or the referal.

  6. Ashkela*

    Plus at least in all the places that I worked that had this, it was reliant on the person making it past 90 days employed. So first day lunch DEFINITELY would be an awfully rude time to bring it up even if he didn’t know that sharing the referral was out of line to expect.

    1. BA*

      I was thinking the same! At places I’ve worked, it was at least 90 days employment for the bonus to be paid. So that check likely hasn’t been cashed, because you can’t cash a check that has yet to be written.

        1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          In one place I worked at (1999), it was half upon hire, and the other half after a year. And the person who did the referral had to be equally still employed a year later to collect the 2nd half.

    2. Another health care worker*

      Yes–IME the new employee has to make it successfully through a probationary period before the referral bonus is paid out. Based on Fergus’ people skills on display here, he may not be around that long! The LW may end up both without their bonus, and wearing the legacy of referring someone who turned out to be a jerk.

    3. The Original K.*

      Yep, this has been my experience too. And when I got the bonus, I took the candidate out for a drink after work. That’s it!

    4. EmmaPoet*

      At my old job it was also 90 days. I did recommend someone who got hired and stayed for several years, but I think I was the only one in our department who did. I got a small bonus, which was nice. I would have recommended her without it, but it was nice.

  7. Fyodor*

    I think that actually somewhat unethical to share the bonus. If your company is paying you for the referral you shouldn’t have undisclosed bribes to the candidate to seal the deal.

    1. Anonym*

      Really good point!! And the company might not look kindly on OP if they shared the bonus with Fergus. It could jeopardize their job!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yup – somebody my dad worked with tried to pull a stunt like this back in the day (early 90’s) and later tried to use my dad as a reference (was very, very well known in that state and industry) – he got back an “I worked with him” response from my dad to the new firm.
      Fergus is burning bridges – hope he doesn’t need them later.

  8. Hills to Die On*

    “I checked with a few colleagues and they all say they’ve never shared, but a few told me I should just split it with him to calm him down.”
    I continue to be baffled by people who will do just about anything to just keep the peace and avoid confrontation / uncomfortable situations. Hell no! It’s the principle of the thing. It’s HER money. It’s no different than if I walked up to a random stranger and demanded that they buy me A Thing or I would get mad at them and yell.
    I just. do. not. get. this.

    1. Hills to Die On*

      And actually, it if he even brought it up again, I would tell him to stop or I will go to HR and have them clarify how referral bonuses work. I mean, if they were meant to be shared, the company would have already given him money!

      1. si*

        Yeah, if the idea was genuinely to reward both referrer and referee, why would the company pay all the money to LW for her to then send Fergus half? How can he think this is how it works?

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          > why would the company pay all the money to LW for her to then send Fergus half?

          This makes sense (though I don’t agree) if he sees it similarly to the way servers “tip out” other workers in a restaurant. He seems to see the referral bonus as a kind of tip, which he’s contributed to LW earning through his input in the process (i.e. being good enough to get hired).

          1. Crimson*

            This makes absolutely no sense. Servers and everyone else know this is pretty unique to service work.

            There’s really no need to grasp at straws here. The guy is an ass, and he’s throwing a tantrum. There’s not some deeper root cause.

            1. Salymander*

              True. It seemed that it was pretty clear what was going on, that the OP was referring Fergus and would get a bonus if Fergus was found to be suitable to hire. OP was essentially paid as a kind of one time recruiter, and risked their reputation when they referred Fergus. That is not the same as passively doing no work, and OP deserves to be paid. Fergus just chose to be pushy and greedy when he should have been thankful for OP’s help. He doesn’t sound like a very reliable or pleasant person to have as a friend.

    2. ThePear8*

      Ugh this. For all the reasons Allison listed, do NOT give him half the bonus just to keep the peace! It will only reinforce his bad behavior.

    3. Failing Up*

      Agreed. I don’t get this either. Maybe I should be obnoxious to people and have them pay me just so they don’t have to tell me to stop.

      Everyone here owes me money! It’s the law and it’s gospel, therefore the truth. Pay me!

    4. Important Moi*

      I’m not surprised that a “few” told me I should just split it with him to calm him down. It a “few” because it was out of the norm.

      Just as an aside, I keep a running list of “who gives me loony advice” and govern myself accordingly where they are concerned i.e. don’t listen to loons.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’m not surprised that a “few” told me I should just split it with him to calm him down. It a “few” because it was out of the norm.

        I’d start paying attention when those “few” reach into their pockets to pay Fergus to calm down. It’s easy to be generous with someone else’s money.

    5. Antilles*

      Agreed. I’m not sure what value there even is in “keeping the peace” here.
      If you’d recommended someone who was hired as your grandboss or he was a worldwide expert whose word carries weight throughout the industry or something of that sort, maybe there’s an argument that it’s worth a couple hundred bucks or whatever.
      I still probably wouldn’t do it myself, but I could at least see the argument for “ugh this sucks but it’s worth it for the benefit to myself” – but that seems unlikely to be the case. If it ticks him off for you to not bend, then whatever, not like you’re missing out on something here.

      1. Smithy*

        Absolutely this.

        I have a reference from a toxic job who I both strongly need to keep as a reference and do genuinely like as a person. After working together, over the years she’s made a few requests that I don’t mind doing but wouldn’t be inclined to do for anyone where I didn’t have such a strong incentive to keep them in my corner. Basically along the lines of “Would you buy and mail this to me? I’ll reimburse you for the cost and shipping.”

        Someone once asked me why I was doing it and the reasoning was very clear to me. These are favors asked very rarely and I’m ok finding the balance between liking her and wanting to keep her in my corner.

        If there’s a missing piece of this letter where Fergus DOES have that kind of weight in the OP’s professional life, then that makes sense. And maybe the people giving that advice give that level of deference to a much wider range of people. But otherwise…this value in keeping the peace seems wildly short sighted given the dynamic it encourages.

          1. Smithy*

            100%

            In my case, imagine this were someone outside the US asking you to buy and mail them Girl Scout cookies when you happened to not love but not hate the Girl Scouts. For your friends who know your feelings about the Girl Scouts, they may think it out of character and strange but in the situation I have it’s more of an awkward shoulder shrug. (Want to emphasize, not the actual situation – no negative or weird feelings toward the Girl Scouts here!)

            I do think very often the “keep the peace” advice crowd can be overly deferential, but very often it’s because they have one or two very specific cases in their life where it makes complete sense. Might look looney, but in practicality quite rationale and functional.

      2. Anonym*

        Fergus should be the one “keeping the peace” with OP, who could potentially refer him to other jobs in the future if he decides not to be an ignorant, entitled jackass.

        1. Buu*

          So I’ve been offered this a few times. But it’s not a standard thing. It’s tended to be pushy people I know trying to get me to apply to their company or a close friend who felt bad for potentially making money off doing me a favour. I didn’t go through with either.
          I’d never ask for this. It is something to be offered and tbh I’d feel a bit icky about.

    6. Critical Rolls*

      Agreed. I’m perfectly peaceful. If you want to run someone in for causing a ruckus, you may direct your attention to that fool Fergus.

    7. Crimson*

      Me either. It’s just bananas. It seems even weirder to suggest to someone else, because then you’re not even personally benefiting from this nutso behavior.

      Honestly I would go the exact opposite route if a friend asked me this. Give the guys manager a heads up. If he is this combative and childish, it’s very likely to become an issue sooner rather than later. I would want to know this as a manager, and I’d be keeping an eagle eye on that person, if not just firing them.

    8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Right?

      “I’d rather pay $2500 than face the discomfort of allowing others to manage their own feelings.”

      Eff that! Here’s my boundary, there are your feelings about them, you can deal with them like an adult.

  9. Now In the Job*

    That is WILD. I just got a job at a company my friend works at who gave me a referral. There was some weirdness (I had to resubmit under a different role, though I put her name down again anyway), and I’m sitting here crossing my fingers that she gets the bonus and does something nice for her and her family. I’m just psyched to have the new job! I can’t imagine feeling *entitled* to someone else’s bonus.

    1. Murfle*

      OMG, I feel the same way. I got my current job via referral, and they just paid the referral bonus to my referrer last week. (They pay it out 6 months after the start date.)

      There’s NO WAY I’d ask my dude to pony up half. At the most, I’d maybe want a high five and a chocolate bar or something.

      1. Despachito*

        Not even the chocolate bar – if something, I’d feel that I am the one owing to the person who referred me (and partly thanks to whom I now have a great job), not the other way round.

  10. Cake or Death?*

    Personally, I would have whipped out my phone and just read him the definition from Google…
    An employee referral program is a recruiting strategy in which employers encourage current employees, through rewards, to refer qualified candidates for jobs in their organizations.

    “Fergus, what part of this do you not understand? Was Company your employer before you were hired? Were you a current employee? Did you refer anyone? What exactly is confusing to you? Would you have preferred I didn’t get you a referral?”

    1. Former Gifted Kid*

      I mean, if the employer wanted the referral to go to the person hired, they would have just given it to him.

  11. HS Teacher*

    That’s crazy! The benefit of the referral is the leg up it gave him for the interview process.

    I continue to be happy to NEVER refer anyone for a position with my company. Every single time I have done it, it has ended in a disaster, even costing me a couple of friendships. I just direct people to our website to apply.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I have been on the other side of that–every time someone was personally referred to me as a hiring manager, that person was a disaster of a candidate.

      I stopped considering referrals unless the referrer had worked directly with the referee. If it’s just someone they know? Absolutely not.

  12. T.*

    Years ago I got 3 people hired in a short time and the referral bonus was ALOT. I took the 3 to a REALLY nice dinner.

  13. Meara*

    I have definitely split a referral bonus before (maybe not half but some)—as someone said though, after 90 days because that’s when it gets paid. But that was agreed ahead of time, and referral bonuses and knowing multiple old coworkers at a new company who could refer you is pretty common. I wouldn’t necessarily expect it unless it was discussed early on! Lunch would be appropriate if it wasn’t discussed. (Signing bonuses are also a common thing and bigger than referral ones so usually I’d expect if someone is getting a signing bonus of $3x and I get a referral of $x, it’s not needful to share)

    1. Venus*

      Yes, this was my thought too: if he wanted a part of it then he needed to mention it at the start! I think the only context in which it would be reasonable to mention it at the start is if he had more than one person who could refer him, which isn’t completely ethical but at least is logical.

      1. Despachito*

        It would be fairer, but it would still left a bitter taste in my mouth, and probably would make me rescind the referral. What a cheek.

  14. Tasha*

    I have gotten two or three referral bonuses in my time and I’ve generally treated the colleague to lunch. No one has asked or expected anything more!

  15. calvin blick*

    At first I thought it was odd that a candidate as qualified as Fergus was stuck in such a low-paying job, but I think we have a pretty good idea how that happend now.

  16. BA*

    If there was a time for Fergus to question what his cut would be (which I think would still be super slimy and not advisable) would have been when you disclosed the fact that the referral program exists. He could have used your answer (No, Fergus, I will not give you my money) to inform whether he wanted you to refer him or if he wanted to apply cold.
    You shared that the program exists, which is awesome. He got a sizable pay increase, which is awesome. You bought him lunch, which is awesome. Then he made it weird, which is not awesome.

  17. ThursdaysGeek*

    I had a similar experience – referred someone I thought was a friend, they got hired, and six months later after he passed probation, I got a referral bonus. I happily offered to buy lunch, and when he found out I’d got a bonus, thought the whole referral was just so I’d get a bonus, it was all about the benefit to me.

    After that, he complained to HR that I was smiling at him when I passed in the hall (like I do for everyone, but in his case I was somehow trying to get him to be friends again), and HR told me to stop smiling or greeting him.

    1. Bern Notice*

      I was mad enough over Fergus’s treatment of the OP, and now after reading your comment – all I can do is sit here and go “GOD, I hate people”.
      I’m so sorry that your good deed was thrown back in your face by this particular jerk. Like, OMG.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, I kind of thought that too. I’ve moved on, and now it’s just a funny story.

    2. Empress Matilda*

      He complained to HR that you were *smiling* at him? What on earth. Honestly, I just can’t with people some days.

    3. BigHairNoHeart*

      “HR told me to stop smiling or greeting him” — Flames, flames on the side of my face!

    4. Hills to Die On*

      Still not over this.
      I would make a point of looking at him at him deadpan without saying a word, then ignoring him everytime I passed him in the hall.

    5. bunniferous*

      This is nuts. I mean, even if you HAD done it just for the money (which you didn’t) HE still got a benefit out of it!!!!!

      People are insane.

      1. Koalafied*

        Right, even if it was a pure money grab…so what? If this guy thinks that doing something for financial rewards is such a terrible thing, wait til he hears about why most people work for living.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Also, logically, why would you refer someone who wouldn’t be likely to get the job if you were just trying to get the money? I mean, you’d have to think he would be a good fit. Did he think you take a scattershot approach to referrals & just refer anyone in the hopes of a bonus? This completely mystifies me.

  18. Bern Notice*

    Wow. What an ungrateful (insert expletive here) Fergus is. Your referral helped him get a great new job with a major salary increase, and his response to that is to ice you out because he thinks you should pay HIM for the privilege of putting your name on the line to refer him for the job? As other commenters have noted, he could have done a little research on his own regarding how referral bonuses are handled – because he’s dead wrong.

    Anyone suggesting that you share your bonus with him “to calm him down” is straight-up out of their minds, and I would NEVER seek advice from them again. It’s not your job to handle Fergus’s emotions – and if you find out that he’s bad-mouthing you to your fellow employees about this, you should let his new manager know.

    Sadly, people like Fergus will make good people like you far less likely to try and help others for fear of being treated like this incredible jerk is treating you now.

    1. Things that make you go hmmm*

      You are so right! I wish all good people would stop rewarding a$$hole behavior in an attempt to keep the peace. I can only imagine that someone like Fergus, if OP gave in to him, would forever be awful to OP and complain to everyone who would listen that OP is a greedy dishonest jerk.

      I can even see Fergus deciding that he, Fergus, should actually have the entire referral bonus given to him because he’s the one actually working in the job and OP hardly did anything. It’s classic “attribution theory” where people credit themselves when things they do go well, but blame others when things go badly.

      OP , giving in to Fergus once will not be the end of this! Stop it now. Consider showing him this column and comments and talking to HR to get them to back you up.

  19. LabTechNoMore*

    Is Fergus’s real name Fred Mertz? Because this sounds like something Fred Mertz would do…

  20. Nanani*

    I’d further add that LW should reconsider taking advice from anyone who suggested splitting the bonus “to calm him down.” Whoever gave that wrong-headed advice reveals they’re more interested in keeping things quiet than in finding actual solutions, like a school teacher who gives detention to both the bully and the victim just to quiet the class down.

  21. I should really pick a name*

    If he actually believed that’s how it worked, wouldn’t he wonder why the LW asked if he’d prefer to apply cold?

  22. Bread Addict*

    The referral bonus is an incentive for employees to refer candidates because the employee is putting their reputation on the line. If Fergus was a problem employee then it would reflect badly on the OP thats why they have bonuses. Plus some people wont refer qualified candidates because of fear of working with friends. Etc. The bonus in incentive for taking the risk and refering them. He shouldnt get half because he didnt risk 1/2 his repuation on it.

  23. Popinki (she/her)*

    If I had naively asked if I got to split the referral bonus and got shot down, especially in a public place, I’d have run for the restroom and escaped out the window out of total embarassment. I sure as heck wouldn’t keep nagging at the refer-er and then act like a snotty teenager whose mommy won’t buy him the $500 sneakers.

    I wonder if doing that in a public place was an attempt to make OP so uncomfortable they’d say yes just to shut him up, especially if the OP is a woman.

  24. Miel*

    I’ve heard of people splitting the referral bonus, but it’s discussed upfront! Fergus is out of line.

  25. Brooklyn B.*

    I had someone once refer me into an organization where he got the bonus and I got the hard-to-staff job of being his manager. His hot take was that I had to yield to all of his workplace demands (eg weeks of extra unearned vacation time) from that day forward because he was the ONLY reason I had that plum job. It really takes all kinds. I am glad that he and I don’t work together any more. When a bridge goes up in flames so quickly, it really makes you question if it even was a bridge at all. He didn’t buy me dinner. He didn’t buy me a coffee either. We don’t stay in touch.

    1. Radical Edward*

      Wow. Not that it’s a contest, but that sounds even wilder than Fergus’s misconception. What must that person’s experience of working life have been?!

      1. Nanani*

        One of those people who imagines everyone in a “nicer” (in head head) situation must have gamed the system to get there and gets mad when people won’t go along with his hare-brained schemes to game the system in his favour.

      1. B.*

        Called him to account, reported it, and escalated it. Fully supported his request to transfer to another department, but he liked it less there and he left the company.

  26. Former call centre worker*

    If half of the referral bonus was rightfully his, why wouldn’t the company just pay it to him directly…?

  27. Alia D.*

    Referral bonus splitting is a thing in low wage, non professional jobs. For jobs where any warm body is initially hired the company only wants to give bonuses for “good” employees, so maybe if you refer a driver to Uber you only get a bonus if they drive 60 rides in their first month. So before the referral the referer shares this information with the new driver and agrees to split the bonus if the new driver does the 60 rides.

  28. Trek*

    So is he going to share 1/2 of the salary bump he received? No? Well I think he still came out ahead then minus the few hundred dollars or half a referral bonus.

  29. MicroManagered*

    OP think of it this way: Say you got a $1000 referral bonus and gave him $500. First, you have taxes withheld from the bonus, so your net pay from the $1000 is not $1000, so your “half” would be less than $500. Also the entire $1000 is on your W-2 meaning $1000 goes onto your tax return when you file.

  30. Other Alice*

    Honestly, Fergus is an ass! I got a job last year through an acquaintance’s referral, she got a massive bonus out of it and didn’t even take me to lunch (yay onboarding during Covid). I am thrilled with the new job and can’t even imagine asking her to split. Also, the nerve of people suggesting OP should split the bonus just to keep the peace… I suppose it’s always easy to give away other people’s money.

  31. Saucy*

    And if it’s a taxable benefit (like in Canada) then the person who formally received the bonus carries the tax burden while he gets cash? Lol. Ok

    1. Triple Toe*

      Yes – exactly this. In the US a bonus has a tax withholding rate of 22%. What a fool/tool this new hire is.

  32. Oakwood*

    Most of the comments assume Fergus is naive or uninformed about how referral bonuses work. There’s one more explanation: Fergus is a scoundrel.

    I have a relative that attempts to twist every situation to their advantage. I can’t count the times I’ve stood there slack jawed at the audacity of their requests. I know it’s an outrageous request and so do they. Yet, they keep doing it with a straight face. And they pout, just like Fergus, and act as if I’m being the unreasonable one.

    Fergus may just be trying to manipulate the LW. We know it would have worked on one of LW’s co-workers who suggested paying him just to keep the peace.

    1. Sleeve McQueen*

      yeah, like maybe he doesn’t know how referral bonuses work, but the fact that he is being icy makes me wonder if this should be documented with HR. It’s so egregious that I worry he will try to undermine OP and would be good to have a paper trail

  33. bubbleon*

    The only time I would consider splitting a referral bonus is if a coworker and I had a similar relationship with and referred the same person to a role. Even then I would want the split to be done by HR, not managed by us.

  34. CheesePlease*

    Did Fergus misunderstand your transparency regarding the bonus? Not saying it is OP’s fault but just trying to figure out the root of his issue with you getting a bonus and him getting a new higher-paying job?? If he brings it up again I would ask directly “why do you feel entitled to this bonus? if you have a problem with how this program is run, I suggest you talk to HR”

    1. Anonym*

      Yeah, his takeaway should have been, “Good to know that Company does this! I’ll keep it in mind when I hear about open roles, maybe I too can refer someone and get a bonus.”

  35. Atlantis*

    Fergus reminds me of that letter from awhile ago about the employees who were annoyed that others were receiving bonuses for getting vaccinated for COVID. It’s the same thing. You don’t get the bonus if you don’t do the thing the incentive is for. When you do the thing, you get the incentive. If Fergus every refers someone else, he will get that bonus, just like the employees needed to get vaccinated to get the $100. Ridiculous.

    1. Observer*

      What about the boss who wanted a cut of the OP’s salary at a new job that they were leaving their boss for?

      1. Atlantis*

        Good point. That was another one, with an extra level of ridiculousness since it was a boss.

  36. Sparkles McFadden*

    You are right, Fergus is wrong. The people who are telling you to hand over money (that you will have to report as income) just to “keep the peace” are wrong. Keep track of who those people are and never ask for their advice again.

    Fergus’ bonus is getting a good position with with higher pay. He openly stated that he knew a referral would increase his chances of getting the position. If anyone is going to pay anyone here it should be Fergus paying you a percentage of his difference in salary.

    Feel free to send Fergus a link to hundreds of people telling you he’s an ass.

  37. thisgirlhere*

    Huh, I never realized I was in the minority here. When you refer someone, you split the bonus. I had a distant acquaintance offer to refer me to a position a few months ago and he said right up front we’d split it (and I barely know this guy). I had no idea people kept the whole thing. It seems a little icky to me.

    1. Jean*

      It’s totally fine to arrange beforehand to split the bonus, but that’s not the norm or the obligation. The benefit to the referrer is the monetary bonus, the benefit to the referred is the leg up in the hiring process. There’s nothing icky about it.

      1. Anonym*

        But it’s also something your company might penalize you for, either directly or indirectly, so it’s risky. (You can go from “employee who made a good faith recommendation because they believe this person would be a good addition to the team” to “employee who is shady and will refer anyone to make a quick buck, regardless of how it affects the team”.)

        Sounds like this may vary by industry and role type, so just be aware of it. And the higher that referral bonus is, the more likely it is that something like this coming up could damage your reputation with your company/your manager and colleagues.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          Why would it make a difference whether they were splitting the bonus or not? If someone is making shady referrals, why would they want to split the money with someone else? I just don’t understand how splitting a referral bonus = shady, while keeping all the money for yourself = upstanding and conscientious.

          In my experience, a referral is just one piece of the hiring process – it’s a “gold star” on the application, but they still have to go through the normal hiring process. If they’re not a good candidate at all, they won’t get hired, no matter who the referral is from. If the company is just hiring random people with nothing more than a good word from someone else, then that’s a different issue. Not saying that OP should give Fergus the money or that Fergus is entitled to it, I’m just not seeing why this is something that the company would care about.

          1. Hills to Die On*

            Because by referring someone, you are recommending someone in a professional capacity. It’s a risk, because that person’s behavior is a) forever a reflection on you and b) out of your control (see: Fergus tantrums). Without the financial incentive, nobody would ever refer anyone because it’s not worth it.
            And it’s shady to split it because it a) looks like a kickback and b) you have no right to others’ money.
            Fergus is already getting a huge financial reward, so they don’t need a bonus. They have already won the job. OP is putting their reputation on the line (as said above) and that merits compensation.

            1. Despachito*

              “Without the financial incentive, nobody would ever refer anyone because it’s not worth it.”

              Why?

              Before reading today’s column, I did not know that referral bonuses existed.

              I thought it natural that if I knew someone who I think would be a good fit for a role, I’d recommend him for free, and if someone is to buy the other one a lunch, that would be that person, because it was me doing them a huge favour (But I would not expect it, it just would be nice).

              Now when I hear that some companies pay bonuses for that, it sounds awesome, but would not incentivize me to recommend someone I would not recommend for free (because I am putting my reputation at stake and this is worth much more than the bonus).

              And I would definitely NOT share the bonus with Fergus – he is in no way entitled to it, it is between OP and the company, and it is stupid chutzpah for him to say that OP did not do anything special to deserve the entire bonus – does he not remember that she RECOMMENDED HIM.

              And another layer of jaw-dropping stupidity are the coworkers who propose OP should give in to appease Fergus. To hear that makes my blood boil – since when, barring armed robberies? do we reward rude, entitled behaviour just to shut the person up?

    2. JustA___*

      I think if you agreed up front to split it, that’s a different thing (and not one that I’m opposed to if it’s agreed upon by both parties!).

      LW mentioned the program to Fergus to be transparent, and asked if he preferred to apply without the referral. LW’s referral puts their reputation on the line if Fergus turns out to be a bad employee, but Fergus benefits from the referral as he’s more likely to get hired with it. When hired, Fergus benefits from a higher salary, and LW gets (what is usually not much of) a bonus when he’s successful in the role for X time period.

      1. ECHM*

        Maybe Fergus thought that if he applied with the referral he would get part of the bonus, and that is why he chose that route???

    3. Lana Kane*

      What seems icky about it? The referral is meant as an incentive to employees to help the org by pointing out qualified candidates.

      1. Birchtree*

        I don’t understand the icky feeling. Companies want to hire good people who are already vetted, therefor they offer incentives to employees to do so. The new hire gets a new job/new salary. If they want to negotiate a sign on bonus, then that’s on them. Does Fergus also want a portion of OP’s benefits? Because that’s what this is, a benefit for the employee. Not the hire.

      2. thisgirlhere*

        I was genuinely surprised that everyone said you don’t split (and I am not new to the working world). When I saw the headline I thought this would go very differently! I think it does depend a lot on how much the bonus is. I wouldn’t care about a few hundred dollars but if you made $5K because you entered my name into a form, that seems off. I get why companies do it, but I also truly see where Fergus is coming from (though he handled it horribly and should have discussed up front if he was going to mention it at all – no argument that he’s behaving inappropriately). It’s not at all like splitting his salary which he gets for working. This is for doing almost literally nothing and relying on Fergus to get the job.

        1. Anonym*

          You make the $5k by putting your reputation on the line and saving your company a lot of money by referring a presumably good hire. Hiring is costly, and so is turnover. Referred employees tend to stay longer and be more reliable. So it’s not about the 12 seconds you spent typing a name, it’s about the value you’re giving them, which they recognize with money.

          The transaction with the person you’re referring is separate. You do them a significant favor by helping them get hired, they’re not doing you a service you have to pay for by getting themselves a job. They’re by far the primary beneficiary. And they can either help you in the future by referring you, or referring people when you need to hire someone, or maybe they pay it forward to someone else. If anything, they owe YOU for the referral, not at all the other way around.

          1. Hills to Die On*

            Exactly – it’s not the typing – it’s the fact that you are willing to tie your professional reputation to the behavior of another person. That’s why you don’t refer people right and left.
            This is no small thing when we are talking about Fergus.

        2. BA*

          I don’t think the amount matters a bit. When an employee “entered my name into a form” and “doing almost literally nothing” they’re offering up their reputation as a good employee who already works at the company and doing some initial vetting of a qualified candidate. It can save the company a great deal of time and energy in recruiting a new employee, so the savings is likely much greater than the amount of the bonus. But stamping your approval on an applicant also stamps your name to them if they turn out to a bad fit. So it is much more than just relying on Fergus to get the job.

        3. Observer*

          I wouldn’t care about a few hundred dollars but if you made $5K because you entered my name into a form, that seems off. I get why companies do it, but I also truly see where Fergus is coming from

          Again, why? Fergus did not do anything for the OP. Any job seeker who gets a job they want is not doing the referrer a favor, at all. They did not apply for the job to help their referrer, they applied for the job because they wanted or needed the job. Why does that suddenly make them entitled to a reward that the company gives to staff for a specific action?

          It’s not at all like splitting his salary which he gets for working. This is for doing almost literally nothing and relying on Fergus to get the job.

          You mean that the OP owes Fergus money for not messing himself over and bombing the process?

        4. Hills to Die On*

          By this logic, a lawyer should not be paid much for writing a few paragraphs and a doctor should not be paid much for talking to you for a bit and then scrawling a prescription.
          But that’s not true, because it’s about the value in those actions. All of the legal and medical training is what you are really paying for if you have a doctor or a lawyer. And writing your name on a form is not just writing a name. I don’t go into HR, autograph a blank piece of paper, and get money.
          But when it’s tied to my reputation and helping the company find a good employee that they can trust, then that little signature means a whole different thing.

        5. nona*

          Its $5k (well, $1500) for word of mouth advertising and YOU (applicant) putting MY (employee) name on a form. At least at my company.

          I don’t necessarily see it as a reputation thing – it’s an incentive to help get the word out at my company about open positions. And relies on the idea that you are most likely to recommend people that you wouldn’t mind working with. And that the applicant wanted to reward the person who helped them find the job.

          But, it’s the applicant that fills out the field saying whether anyone referred them. I don’t even have to forward a resume. I don’t have any paperwork to do. Every company is different, but overall the company must find it to be a valuable tool to mine their employees’ professional networks for new hires.

          If the money was meant to go to the person getting hired, it would be called a hiring bonus – I’ve seen companies do those for competitive positions as well.

        6. P. Opus*

          You are engaged in what I call the “time is money fallacy.” I used to work at a car factory and made good money, enough to raise a family, buy a house &tc. When I retired I worked for a spell at a local grocery store for minimum wage, which is $15 her win Ontario.
          What I learnt is time is worth $15. Everything else is extra. Stress, that’s an extra. Experience, knowledge, excessive physical demands and so forth are extra. The more of those you pile on, the more I make.
          The car factory had me piling a bunch off uncomfortable gear on and risking my health spraying solvent based paints on the car. The discomfort, the shift work, the possible health risks, those were the extras. But the time, that was $15.
          In this case, the OP took a few minutes of time, but they put years of hard earned reputation on the line, and that’s what is being compensated.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      he said right up front we’d split it

      This part is key. There was no discussion of splitting, so there should be no expectation of it.
      I’m curious why you think it’s icky?

      The referrer gets cash.
      The referree gets an internal reference and probably gets a guaranteed interview.

  38. Heffalump*

    I won’t give Fergus the Jerk of the Week award just yet–the week is still young–but he’s on the shortlist.

  39. ZSD*

    I wonder if Fergus is somehow conflating the referral bonus with a signing bonus. Maybe he thinks signing bonuses are more standard than they are, and he thinks that if this company didn’t give him a signing bonus, they must have expected the LW to split the referral bonus. Or something.

    1. OP*

      OP here. This hadn’t occurred to me, but it is interesting. Sign on bonuses are absolutely standard at this company; I can’t imagine a situation in which he wouldn’t have gotten one that was many, many times greater than my referral bonus. But it’s still an interesting theory!

  40. Governmint Condition*

    So, I have a question. Would it be ethical to not disclose to somebody that you received a bonus for referring them for a job? (I work in government, so this whole referral concept is foreign to me, and I’m not sure if I like it.)

    1. Former Referer and Referee*

      I’ve been on both ends of the referral process and I don’t recall the person who referred me for my first office job mentioning the bonus beforehand, but when I got offered the job and told her I owed her a beer she laughed and said there was no need since she was getting a bonus. And I was happy to hear that, because she had done something nice for me!

      When I referred a friend for a job many years later, I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention the bonus because it never would have occurred to me that that was a thing you were expected to do (I think I just assumed that all companies had referral programs like this so it was common knowledge). My friend got offered the job and I mentioned to her that it was a win-win because I was going to get a bonus, and then she felt super guilty when she turned down the offer and it took a long time to convince her that I was not all at upset with her (I really wasn’t! I mentioned the bonus so she wouldn’t feel like she owed me one for the referral! Epic backfire!). So if I ever referred someone again I would not discuss a bonus at all.

    2. Sherm*

      It certainly would have saved OP some grief. But yeah, I think you should disclose that you are getting a bonus for making the referral. It’s information that the applicant might want to mull over. When the referrer says “You should work here!”, is the idea of a bonus for themselves clouding their vision? I’m sure in this case the OP would have made the referral regardless, but the applicant is owed the full picture.

      1. animaniactoo*

        I disclosed that I’d get a bonus if he was hired from my referral and informed him that he could apply cold if he preferred. He replied that he knew a referral would give him better chances, so I went ahead and submitted it.

        OP did disclose. Fergus preferred the leg up he’d get with the internal recommendation. Fergus is just out of line altogether.

        1. Lunch Ghost*

          I think they’re saying it would have saved OP some grief had they NOT disclosed (since Fergus wouldn’t ask for part of a bonus he didn’t know about), but agreeing that OP did the right thing by disclosing.

    3. Colette*

      I don’t think you’re obligated to tell them – but I do think that once they’re an employee, they will learn about the referral program and may ask about it.

      1. Despachito*

        But it would be none of their business if I got a bonus for them! It would be between me and my company, and they are not entitled to this information.

    4. Metadata minion*

      I think the ethics of it change a *lot* when you go from me going “aww, I could have really used that $200” when two of my friends got jobs through the same temp agency as me on my recommendation after I’d already left the agency, and someone getting a $50k bonus for referring their biotech colleague who they know is actually kind of an asshole but they want the bonus.

    5. OP*

      OP here. The referral program at my company requires disclosure. We must be up front with people that we will receive a bonus and that they are free to apply through the public posting if they’re not comfortable with that.

  41. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    Wow, the entitlement… No, it is *not* normal to share your referral bonus. Ignore your colleagues who say you should share “to keep the peace” (would they share theirs in a similar situation? I think not) and don’t ask them for advice in future. I’d like to give Fergus the benefit of the doubt and hope that his previous job has warped his sense of what’s normal (as often happens with toxic jobs) and he’ll realise that his request was out of order now he’s in a better company. Meanwhile, hold your head high, OP. You did nothing wrong!

  42. Anonymouse*

    I actually think OP’s generosity began by disclosing the bonus to Fergus. If I were to get a bonus from a referral program I wouldn’t necessarily need to disclose it to the person I was referring. It doesn’t affect them, only me. And what they don’t know doesn’t hurt them. Unless a company has a signing bonus then you normally aren’t paid just for saying yes to the job so I don’t know why the fact that I, a current employee received a reward is an issue for you, a newbie employee.

    Possible unpopular opinion: And depending on our positions I may or may not treat them to lunch. I would go to lunch with them to celebrate but if we are at the same level or they are higher, I don’t think there’s a reason for me to pay for them. We can split, and maybe I can buy them a dessert or a drink or something as a “congratulations” but otherwise I don’t see why I would be paying for both of us.

    1. Despachito*

      “I don’t see why I would be paying for both of us.”

      Neither do I. I think that if somebody buys someone a lunch, it should be the referred person. Or nobody, because it is really not needed.

    2. OP*

      OP here. Our internal policy requires that we disclose the bonus prior to submitting a referral. Regarding lunch – to be honest, in the moment, I didn’t consciously think “I need to treat Fergus to lunch because of my bonus.” Our campus and culture can be quite overwhelming in the first days, and I thought he might enjoy a friendly face and a quick tour of the surrounding area. We’d been quite friendly when we’d worked together before.

      1. Despachito*

        This was considerate of you, and I am very sorry Fergus was such an ungrateful a-hole to you.

  43. learnedthehardway*

    Such a bizarre situation! I’d be seriously reconsidering whether or not you wanted to refer Fergus. Might go as far as telling HR that you withdraw the referral. I’m serious – it sounds like Fergus has strong potential to flame out and I wouldn’t want my name to be associated with him having been hired by your employer.

    1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      I don’t think it would help at this point. IMHO it would just make the LW look even weirder.

    2. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

      Pretty sure it’s too late now, they’ve already hired him. It would just look weird if OP tried to take back their referral, their best bet is to leave Fergus alone and get on with their work.

  44. Quality Girl*

    I did split a referral bonus with a former coworker who I recommended for a job once, but: 1. It was a few hundred dollars before taxes (so not that much), 2. I knew she really needed it (had kids and an underemployed spouse), and 3. I offered ahead of time.

    This is crappy behavior on his part.

  45. Velomont*

    Fergus certainly very wrong. In fact I was referred to my current job by a friend and I assume he got a referral bonus. After I went through the process and got the job, instead of demanding half from my friend’s referral bonus, I bought him a $500 gift certificate.

  46. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

    Is it even allowed to share the bonus with the referee? Seems like it might be a conflict of interest.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      It’s their money. They can do what they want with it.

      I wouldn’t consider it a conflict of interest. The company wouldn’t hire him unless they thought he was a good fit. It’s not like the referral is guaranteed money.

  47. irene adler*

    /sarcasm alert on

    Hey Fergus-maybe they’ll claw back the bonus if you quit-right now.
    That’ll teach the OP not to share!

    /sarcasm alert off

  48. Bronze Medalist*

    I had a similar situation once several years ago. I lived in an apartment complex that i loved. I randomly met a woman who was touring a unit and she asked how I liked it. I told her I loved it. She asked me my name and I gave it to her.

    Fast forward to a month later. I get a knock on my door very early one morning. It was the same woman, demanding that I split the referral bonus with her. I gave it to her, even though we had not agreed previously.

    From then on, she would occasionally ask me to hang out and I always declined. Gee, I wonder why….

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      This is why I never answer my door unless I’m expecting the person on the other side.

      1. Bronze Medalist*

        It was like $100 bucks ($200 referral fee). I was really young at the time and learned pretty quickly never to answer my door unless I knew the person. By the way she banging on the door, i thought it was an emergency or something. Lesson learned!

  49. Enginarian (Canada)*

    This reminds me so much of a similar situation friends of mine encountered.

    D’s birthday
    D receives lottery ticket as gift from sister-in-law
    D wins $10K on this ticket
    SIL says “yay send me my half because that is what always happens with lottery winnings on a gift ticket”. SIL then pouted and complained for weeks because the money was not gleefully handed over.
    D eventually did send her the money for the sake of family harmony, but we still talk about it. It is not something anyone I mention it to has ever heard of.

    1. Hills to Die On*

      That is amazing. It would not be about family harmony, it would be about ‘gifts do not come with strings’, ‘I do not like it when people try to manipulate me’ and ‘you have no right to MY money’. I can’t believe someone paid $5K to not be emotionally blackmailed. Horrible.

    2. Semi-average*

      What kind of lousy gift protocol is that? Was D expected to fork over half of every other gift they’d been given? Does it apply only when you win more than the gift giver intended to spend in the first place? If the gift giver only spends $5 on lottery tickets but none of them win then they essentially gave the gift of disappointment. Odds are the family traditionally spends more than $5, so not only is it disappointment but it’s cheap ass disappointment!

      1. Anon Supervisor*

        I would literally saw every gift I receive from her in half and mail it to her until the end of time. Family harmony!

    3. Ashkela*

      Now if I gave someone a lottery ticket and they won at least 4 digits worth of funds, I’d expect drinks or dinner, but even then it’d be ‘so dinner is on you next week, right?’ and if they said no, okay that’s fine.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        The possibility of a terrible family fight is why I NEVER give lottery tickets as gifts — there’s just too much potential for the best outcome to also become the worst outcome.
        Just buy tickets for yourself and then give away some of your winnings, if you want.

  50. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    The only thing I can think of that would confuse Fergus is if he thought there was some type of sign on bonus and that’s what the referral bonus was. past job had sign-on bonus of $600 and a referral bonus of $600. So when a family member referred me and I was hired I got $600 and they got $600

  51. irene adler*

    Is it possible that Fergus is conflating referral bonus with hiring bonus?

    Although, if that were the case, Fergus ought to understand that the hiring bonus comes directly from the employer- not a co-worker or referral. Hence, no reason to be bugging the OP about it.

  52. Birchtree*

    Holy moly! When a friend referred me for a job, not only did I shower her in appreciation when I accepted it, I sent her a fancy box of chocolates. It’s beyond me that someone would think that a company referral bonus should be shared with the new employee!

    1. PhyllisB*

      What will be interesting is, if Fergus later refers someone who’s hired, will he feel like he should split the bonus? Somehow I doubt it.

  53. Astrid*

    I am really going to need an update from the OP. I hope that she did not end of giving him any of her referral bonus.

  54. TiredMama*

    I’m not this petty but I would want to tell him you thought about it and decided to give all of it to a non-profit, like Dress for Success, to help others reach their new job goals too.

  55. Bobbie G.*

    You are being paid the referral bonus and taxed on that money and Fergus is not. If employers wanted you to share your referral bonus then both of you would be taxed.

    I have offered to refer someone to a company I worked at and share the referral but that was agreed upon before the hiring process started.

    Fergus should have asked if you were willing to share and then pay off the taxes

  56. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

    Wow, his behavior is way out of line. That being said, I wonder if there’s a cultural/regional difference at play? Where I am, it’s considered polite to split the referral bonus with the person who gets hired for the same logic that’s explained in the letter. Yes, your referral helped him land the interview, but it was his interview/skills that ultimately won him the role. It is a 50:50 contribution. I’ve actually never heard of someone keeping the full bonus.

    All that said, its still up to the person who receives the bonus to offer to split and you would never demand/ask for the split as the interviewee. He’s being rude and creating drama at a new role for a petty reason. Kind of puts his character and judgment into question.

    1. TheWho*

      How do the taxes work when splitting the referral bonus where you are? Does the referring employee share the bounty after taxes?

    2. HelloHello*

      I’ve also quite used to the idea of splitting referral bonuses, though I generally see it as something the referrer mentions up front, ie making a Linkedin or Facebook post that their employer is hiring and saying they are happy to split the referral bonus if someone they refer gets the job.

      I wouldn’t presume someone would give me half a referral bonus unless they said so up front, and Fergus is out of line for demanding it, but it also is a decently common practice in my experience.

    3. Lils*

      I thought of this too–a cultural difference (different field, different country, etc.) But if you are in a different culture, presumably you are at least somewhat aware you’re in new territory and proceed with caution. OP (remarkably calmly) explained splitting isn’t the done thing, and instead of considering this as kindly-delivered important information about a new culture, Fergus showed his ass.

  57. Petty Betty*

    Fergus thinks he’s entitled to half the referral bonus because he allowed you to refer him? Well, I guess that means you won’t be referring him again since he seems to think there are hidden strings attached to doing HIM favors.

  58. animaniactoo*

    Fergus is a dingbat (the actual word I would use would kick this to moderation and Alison doesn’t need that work, so I am substituting) and in OP’s place, I might let him know that I regretted the leg up that I gave him by submitting him through the referral program. Because, yes, I DID do work. I passed along a contact to somebody who rewarded me for helping them find someone they thought well enough to hire. It may not be a lot of work. But I did it. And it involved some judgment in how I did it. Which I am starting to revise my opinion on….

    This is not a kickback situation, Fergus. That’s not how it works.

    1. NorthBayTeky*

      Also, Fergus the Dingbat turned down a perfectly good offer to get his own referral bonus! That made me think Fergus is Lazy.

  59. anonymous73*

    Wow, what a dick. All of the benefit and none of the work? How about putting your reputation on the line for it working out? DO NOT give him any of the money. If he chooses to be icy towards you, that’s his problem and not something you need to resolve.

  60. Miss Muffet*

    I have a related kind of question …. I was a contractor at a company, and had a friend who was applying for a full-time job there. I think she’d be great at the job. I ask my client contact a bit about the role to get some info for my friend, and she says, “I’d be glad to submit her resume through the referral process”. So this is good – it gives my friend a leg up. But if the friend gets the job, shouldn’t the client contact at least offer me some of the bonus? I couldn’t refer the person myself because I was a contractor, so didn’t have access to that system. But my client doesn’t know my friend at all, but still gets the bonus. I know I’m not strictly entitled to it, but it seems like this would be a time when offering to share/split it would be the right thing.

    1. BA*

      It probably would have been nice for the client contact to offer you something. As noted above, there are tax implications for a bonus, so a strict 50:50 split costs the client contact more than you, but if it had been me, I definitely would have sent you something or figured out a way to share some of that money you helped me receive.

  61. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    Absolutely not! Do not give him a dime. You did him a favor by referring him for a job that he wanted. He gets the favorable referral and a new job out of the situation. End of story. If he wanted a signing bonus from the employer, he should have negotiated that with the employer. Nope, not OP’s obligation to give Fergus a tax-free money gift.

    I work in an industry where referral hiring bonuses are very normal and very common, and I have seen them range from $1,000 to $5,000 – my current employer is offering $5,000 in this hot job market. And I have *never* heard of splitting the bonus with the referred person. Sounds a bit underhanded.

  62. mlem*

    My company has referral bonuses, and given the entry-level hiring, they function as much or more as “find us some warm bodies!” as they do as a path for The Very Best Candidates. Anyway, years ago, I was at a gathering, and if anyone seemed like they might be job-searching, I mentioned my company was hiring and I could get a referral bonus, which I think was about $2k at the time. My friend would jump in every. single. time. with “And she’ll split it with you!” I finally asked her what she was doing, and it turned out she thought it was weird I would bring up getting something out of someone else getting a job.

    I was literally just trying to be transparent that I had a motive. They would have found out once they were hired; why not be open about it?

    (The folks I knew who did get the bonuses would often do *something* for the new employee — buy them a lunch or a new pair of roller-blades, that kind of thing — but they weren’t handing over half the pre-tax amount, my goodness.)

    1. Hills to Die On*

      haha so she just decided on her own that you would not be ‘selfish’ and tried to arrange that you would be forced to share with others?
      Regardless, that behavior is as odd as Fergus’ .

  63. logicbutton*

    Oh, I was also taught that you split a referral bonus. It’s too bad Fergus assumed he would get a cut and he certainly shouldn’t have demanded it (and LW shouldn’t feel obligated to give it to him), but he didn’t necessarily get the idea from nowhere.

  64. AnotherSarah*

    Ew. The WORK you put in is putting your reputation on the line, truly–when you refer a person, you’re spending cultural capital. It’s not back-breaking labor, sure, but it does count as work! And presumably it’s work on behalf of your company, who now has a new hire!

  65. Been There*

    Not to mention the fact that referral bonuses, at least where I work, are taxed as BONUSES. Meaning at a mandated high rate. To split the bonus would mean the refer-er gets the tax liability and the refer-ee gets free money? Lunch treat is more than generous.

  66. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I think it might make a difference to our answers if we knew what kind of rolls were served with the lunch – like good ones or cheap-ass rolls?

    1. NorthBayTeky*

      If they are offering a referral bonus, I’m certain they serve quality rolls, not those cheap ass ones.

      Hard to type while laughing so hard.

  67. BatManDan*

    Probably said elsewhere on this thread (end of a long day, and as much as I want to scroll back and read them all, I can’t).
    That would be the same as approaching the recruiter that head-hunted him and asking for half of the payment for placing Fergus in the job; wth?

  68. Taxes: referral bonus not tax-free*

    Also, this referral bonus is not tax free. If you did share, would you reduce his “share” by the tax you are charged?

    1. Captain Swan*

      I just referred a former colleague to my company and he was hired. I didn’t put him through the referral program because time was of the essence and I didn’t care about the bonus (which wouldn’t have been a whole lot anyway). The former colleague is so happy to have landed a new job that he has thanked me a bunch of times and offered to buy me lunch. He doesn’t even know that I referred him knowing that it might put both of us in the running for one of the open positions (It didn’t in the end.) That’s how it should be and Fergus has a screw loose.

  69. Claims adjuster*

    My friend referred me to my current job and got a referral bonus. She took me out to dinner afterwards. I went on to refer a friend of mine, and took her out to dinner with my bonus. There was never any expectation of sharing it, and I wouldn’t characterize it as something for nothing either. My friend answered lot of questions for me during the hiring process, and I did the same for my referral. It did turn out to be kind of a lot of effort to answer questions and help the applicant.

    Your friend sounds selfish.

  70. Perpetual Job Searcher*

    One of my best friends referred me to a job and got good amount for a referral bonus. She was intent on splitting it with me which I hadn’t even considered??? And I said absolutely not. She got me a really cool commemorative gift that I loved, which was sweet. It never would occur to me to give a referral money.. the advantage is that they’re literally helping you get a job and vouching for your work!

  71. Candy*

    Enjoy the icy silence, it is better than the crazy lot in some letters. If he brings up the topic again say ‘Fergus, I got you the job using internal means off my own back. You now earn $4,000 / $10,000 a year more because of me. How are you planning on splitting 50/50 with me? Once you’ve sent your x thousand dollars I’ll send you half of the bonus awarded to me.

  72. Are we retired yet?*

    I knew someone who actually would “gift” the referral bonuses she received to the person she referred *BUT*, she was in a financial position where paying the tax burden and gifting the money did not impact her financially and made a HUGE difference for the new employee.

    The new employee was usually a recent college grad, often with a young family, who had to relocate for the job. She didn’t need the low 4 figure bonus, and loved being able to help the next generation of professionals. She didn’t tell them ahead of time, THERE WAS NO EXPECTATION that she share, she’d simply give the money after she received it. She was also an absolutely amazing person who believed that helping people around you helps you too

  73. Jaxgma*

    I’ve heard of splitting the referral bonus just once. My neighbor was pretty high up at a large financial services company when she referred another neighbor (and close friend) for an IT position. In her case she told him up front she’d split the referral bonus with him if he was hired. I only heard about it because the bonus was supposed to be paid after the IT neighbor had been in the new position for 6 months, and during that time she (the referrer) got promoted to a high enough level that she was no longer eligible to receive referral bonuses. She put up a fight to get the money, because at the time she referred him she WAS eligible – and privately because she’d promised IT Neighbor half the money. She won. This was a situation where the 2 families were close friends, which is quite different from the LW’s situation.

  74. Nom de Plume*

    Last time I received a referral bonus for getting a friend a job, I took them to a really nice steak house as a welcome to the team. There is no expectation that I have to give my bonus to someone or will. You get hired congrats on that. I don’t owe you any money.

  75. Charlotte Lucas*

    I’d be interested to know what the standard referral bonus would be for those who say you always split it. I assume it’s either very low (so taxes aren’t as big of an issue) or very high (so people who split can afford the taxes).

    The one place I worked that had a referral bonus only paid about $200 & instituted it when I was planning my escape & didn’t know anyone outside the company I disliked enough to refer.

    1. Elle*

      I would likely split a referral bonus if I were in that position; mine are about 6-10k.

      I love your user name!

    2. HelloHello*

      The referral bonuses I have experience with ranged from $500 to $2000, for positions that paid between $50-$100K. I’ve never actually referred someone myself, but coworkers in similarly compensated roles have and have split the bonus with the person they referred. I believe the company took out tax withholdings from the bonus before paying it out, so they just split the amount the (post tax) amount they received.

  76. Elle*

    I once had a friend actually split the referral bonus they received when I was hired by their employer, but I’d informed them of the company’s existence/had been trying to get in there before they worked there, and it was understood that if I’d been hired before they were I’d have done the same. Just assuming is beyond brazen! I think the huge salary bump makes this even more outrageous- this person did them a solid and this is how they thank them? I would also be very thankful I didn’t have to interact with Fergus in the course of our duties, were I the OP.

  77. Schnookums Von Fancypants, Naughty Basic Horse*

    “Am I wrong to not share my bonus with him? I checked with a few colleagues and they all say they’ve never shared, but a few told me I should just split it with him to calm him down.”

    I always love it when people are really eager to give away other people’s money like this. “Well, if you feel that Fergus deserves an amount equal to half you’re welcome to pay it out of your own pocket.”

    Now, I have been offered half of a referral bonus by a friend who was going to refer me, but he offered without me asking.

  78. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    I mean…if the rules were you got half the bonus, surely the company would have given Fergus half the bonus and OP half the bonus in the first place!

    I’m still annoyed that when I referred a colleague for a position that only I held and only I was fully qualified to evaluate skills in, I had to be involved in the hiring process and that created a conflict of interest that disqualified me from the referral bonus.

    I agree that you shouldn’t *immediately* get the bonus if you’re involved in the hiring process, but surely if it was a difficult-to-fill position, and the referee is a high performer still with the company 5 years later (and not reporting to you), and subsequent attempts to hire for this position when you weren’t involved resulted in a hire who had to be fired almost immediately, because it’s really easy to BS a non-specialist hiring manager in this field…after a few years, I think there should be an expiration on the conflict of interest and the up-to-$10k bonus should be paid out.

    But okay! I’d rather have the competent colleague I have to work closely with than the thousands of dollars, which is why I decided to be involved in the hiring process and forgo my referral bonus. The subsequent bad hire just reinforced that decision.

  79. OP*

    OP here, joining the party late after a full day at an offsite, Fergus-free workshop. I just wanted to say that these comments are equal parts hilarious and heartening. I was reasonably sure I wasn’t in the wrong here, but his anger was so unexpected that I needed a reality check. I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of being unethical before and I’ve been really uncomfortable about the whole situation. After reading Alison’s response and the comments, I’m just going to let it go.

    And for those asking, my referral bonus was about $1k before taxes. Fergus’s salary increase resulting from his new job was over 100x that (at least, if the salaries he quoted in our original conversation and his thank you note were both accurate. I have high confidence in his new salary because it fits the band at our new company, but I only have his word on the former.) My company requires disclosure of the referral program and a statement to the effect of “you are allowed to apply via the public link if you are not comfortable with this.”

    1. Media Monkey*

      he got a $100k salary increase as a result of your referral and is sulking over $500? WTF Fergus?

    2. BA*

      Holy. Smokes.

      OP, I sure hope he gets the point and lets it go. That said… I think given this new information, if Fergus pushes again, it might be worth a very uncomfortable and brutally honest conversation. Like, “Dude you are earning SIGNIFICANTLY more per year in this new role. That’s awesome and I’m really happy for you. You deserve it! But before taxes, that bonus I got is just more than 10% of your monthly salary increase in your new role. So I’d suggest you stand down because you don’t want to be the guy awkwardly fighting over half of $1000 (before taxes) when you’re making more than $8,000 more EACH MONTH (before taxes) in your new job.”

  80. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    He is an ass.
    But how much of an ass, will he do half assed work to get back at you, maybe even get fired to make you look bad then blame you for the whole thing?
    Lets hope not but stranger things have happened.

    That said if he brings it up again don’t offer him anything except that you helped him get a better paying job so in fact half his income increase should come to you according to his logic.
    What is his plan on making that happen :D

  81. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    It also occurs to me that a professional recruiter makes money by connecting clients with employers. Would he have the gall to demand half their income from getting him a job if it had been a professional recruiter in this case?

    1. Usagi*

      A good friend is a recruiter, and has had a (half joking?? but awkward) conversation with a client like that. She trusts that the client was joking, but when the client seemed to be doing well in the interview process for an employer, the client said something along the lines of “so do you work on commission? What do I get out of this?” My friend responded with “… you get a job?” followed by awkward laughter by both of them.

      Later, the client emailed my friend, asking “how much of the commission is mine?”

      Eventually, it turned out the client was super weird, and the employer let him go after half a year or so. I guess he joked that he wanted the interviewer (his soon to be skip-boss)’s job. And then later tried to make good on that by asking that person to train him “for when I eventually replace you.”

  82. Hands off!*

    I don’t think Fergus was confused. If he thought he was entitled to squeeze OP’s buns, should OP allow it to keep the peace? No, because that would be inappropriate, just like giving away money that is not rightfully Fergus’.

  83. Sanskritchers*

    When someone asks something like the “friend” did here, about “how” OP will be paying the friend “his half” – that person knows they’re doing something wrong. They try to phrase it in a way that seems like the assumption (that OP will pay the friend half the referral amount) is already shared by both parties, but if it really was there’d be no reason for them to say anything. Especially something as pointless as “how” the money would be paid. That’s just fake talk to bring up the topic in a casual way as if OP would just blow by the crazy idea that they should pay half the amount and get right to the all-important how it will be paid. Who falls for that? People give themselves away.

  84. Xaraja*

    Am i the only one who’s had someone literally just offer to share the referral bonus when they got one after referring me? I know this has happened at least once when i actually got a job, and i feel like I’ve heard it a couple of other times besides that. Maybe it’s that these are much lower paid jobs, like call center work? So a few hundred dollars is a major windfall in that situation.

    I honestly don’t recall whether i ended up taking the offered portion of the referral bonus. I just know i think about whether people share them every time i see the sign in the lunchroom at work about the bonus my current employer offers (thankfully not that call center any longer).

  85. Onetime Poster*

    Not to mention, if a referral bonus worked that way, the *company* would do it. The sheer fact that Fergus assumes that a referral fee is shared by the individual receiving it is evidence alone he has absolutely no concept of what they are. Same with a “refer a person to get 10% off a visit” or something, THAT TOO is managed by the business.

    What a clueless and greedy person. I am in awe that someone has the gall to think sharing a bonus after the fact is standard etiquette.

  86. ManyHats*

    LW1: Performer here: if you tell someone you’re doing a show, they may well decide to attend, and that’s a compliment! I understand the nervousness about having your supervisor there, though, given the situation at your former workplace. Now that your boss wants to bring her son, I wouldn’t ask her not to out of consideration for the kid’s feelings as well as hers. If there are multiple performances, ask her not to tell you which one she’s attending, and if it’s a one-off, so be it. Maybe CBD or something would help with your stage fright? (I’m not saying that to be mean, stage fright is a very real thing!) Break a leg.

  87. Reality.Bites*

    I think in a few weeks it will be the company itself that wants the referral bonus back!

  88. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I hope Fergus really excels at this job and is willing/able to stay in it until he retires, because he has just made sure that no one will refer him for anywhere else ever.

  89. it's all good*

    my college roommate got a bonus for my hiring. She said she would give me half, but later said her husband forbad it. Didn’t even take me to lunch because. Yes, our friendship survived this and he is now her ex.

  90. Frenemy Of the People*

    Yeah I’ve only shared a bonus when a friend referred a friend to me for me to refer to my company. (I know hard to follow, sorry). In that case, I wouldn’t have known about the person looking for work w/o my friend sending me their resume and giving me a good review of their work. Since I got the bonus w/o truly knowing them, I did split with my friend, but she in no way acted as if she expected it. Fergus is a tool in this situation. I’d say, “I’ve rethunk it, and I’ll split my bonus if YOU split the difference in your old and new salary for a year!” But I’m a jerk like that I guess :)

  91. TiaraWearingPrincess*

    Is there a written company policy on referrals?
    If so, send him a copy and say you are sorry he misunderstood the process. Mention again that you’re sure he knows others HE can refer.

    I make this suggestion only to prevent him from damaging your reputation with his obviously bad attitude toward you.

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