Summary: I referred an ex-colleague and received referral bonus. Colleague went through interviewing and negotiation process for a different job posting, after my initial referral, which I did not directly refer and got the job. Colleague expected me to split the bonus and used emotional reasonings, also implying I wasn't directly responsible in them getting the job. I ended up transferring the whole bonus to them to end this. Was their request reasonable?
This question is very similar to Am I expected to share my referral bonus? although it does not address my scenario.
Background: I have a ex-colleague who I initially referred for a job posting that she she did not clear, but this helped her get in to the HR system. My ex-colleague later got a call for a different position apparently through Linkedin look up by my companies HR, and cleared the interview. When the HR enquired my colleague(now) for reference within the company, she provided my details without my consent, apparently it was learnt from HR during the process that giving a reference of an existing employee within the system will strengthen her case along with the possibility of better remuneration prospects. This reference information was provided to me directly by my friend post facto, for which I replied it was not a problem as I may still get some referral bonus, since I was the original referrer.
Two months after my colleague joined the system, she enquired with me about referral bonus with the explicit expectation of splitting the bonus with her. She also indicated that she had incurred some financial losses in her family and also been spending a lot of money on her house, the financial burden topic was brought up as one of the reason to split the bonus. The bonus itself is significant post taxes.
Hiring process from my past experience: From my past experience I know that once a candidate is referred by someone, even if the candidate apply for a different job through some other channel, the initial referrer gets the credit and bonus, since apparently the first referrer is technically the person who initiated the interest in the company and sparked the interest - based on what I heard. I have personally identified a suitable position and referred a candidate successfully second time and had learnt the referral bonus was awarded to the first referrer.
What have I done in the recruitment and post recruitment process of my colleague: Recruitment time: I helped her navigate the HR round for salary negotiations, based on a strategy which I have had personal success with. She was willing to accept a lesser salary due to the company’s reputation, but based on my strategy she managed to get significantly higher offer. I had also indicated during the initial stages what to expect in interviews, org structure and what lines of career can be pursued.
Post recruitment: Since she was new in the system, I had given her details about ongoing benefits which were not widely published and obvious to new joinees, helping her secure an additional monthly incentive. Although in all fairness, I would have informed her of this option, even if I had not referred her.
I understand referral does not mean recommendation, I did not influence the decision making process, but was still a referrer. The system within the company does reward existing employees for the sole purpose of identifying and guiding friends and ex-colleagues to the organization, which I believe I have done to deserve the referral bonus.
What was most aggravating: I guess it was her consideration that I did not help her enough to get the job and I do not deserve the bonus in the first place. She even said “Money, when not deserving, will not stick”, implying karma do not favor the undeserving ones.
The implication that she would let go of “her rightful money” to me, since she had already lost lot of money, loosing additional money from bonus does not amount to much.
What I ended up doing: I transferred the entire amount to my ex-colleague due to the aggravating nature of the discussion, to my wife’s dismay, who felt I’m taking an emotional decision over something that I do technically and ethically deserve.
What question I have: It’s just the entire process of who owns the Referral bonus in this specific instance and should splitting the bonus or handing over the bonus to referree, where it was not agreed in advance, constitute the correct decision? Do referrer needs to make the referral that results in employment to technically deserve the referral bonus?
Disclaimer: Although the discussion and topic may look aggressive, my colleague was very polite and we have high regards for each other. I also do not in the slightest, doubt the high ethical standards of my colleague or my own. She even made it clear that the whole HR process around referral is not very clear to her due to inexperience in the area. I don’t intend to burn bridges with her and would be sending her link to this discussion, possibly even recommend participating(anonymously?) in these discussions to be fair to her.