A former colleague of mine is looking for a new job, and I told him I think he'd be very happy taking one of several open positions at my current company. I believe the compensation, benefits and projects are in line with what he's looking for, and after describing them to him he does as well. As of right now he is intending on applying for the positions. My company offers incentives to current employees for recruiting new hires: if a new hire lists a current employee as having referred them to that position during the application process, and the new hire subsequently 'works out' (stays for a least 6 months), the company will reward the referring employee with a cash prize on the order of $1000. To my understanding, this is not an uncommon practice.

I'd like to tell my friend to list me as having referred him during his application (obviously) for the cash incentive. Because he's doing me a favor, I'd also like to offer to split it with him when I receive it (after taxes). My question is: is this unethical/illegal/inadvisable? My concern is that I may be creating some kind of hiring incentive that my company did not intend for or sanction (my company does not offer any kind of signing bonuses for these positions). Does anyone know of any laws relating to this gray area? Would I be unethical in doing this?

  • 2
    So, you feel he's doing you a favor by eventually getting a job you recommended to him? I don't think it makes sense. However, I don't think there's a problem, unless there's something in your contract against it.
    – Charmander
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:45
  • I don't see it as unethical but it seems like your friend would list you as a reference without an incentive. You as a reference would likely help with getting the job.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 15:45
  • 3
    Not enough of a thought for an answer: but if there were a signing bonus offered, wouldn't you feel uncomfortable accepting half of that? Offering half of the referral bonus is just the reciprocal of that. Maybe it's more appropriate to take your friend out for drinks/dinner to celebrate?
    – HPierce
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 16:05
  • 1
    Why should it be unethical? The money is yours - you are free to do with it whatever you please
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 16:39
  • 1
    Many, many companies will ask you not to do this, largely for the reasons you gave. I'd strongly suggest you clearing this with your HR department first if you decide to share. For another take, see #2 at the link.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 17:17

2 Answers 2


I don't see it as that big of a deal for a few reasons:

  1. You're volunteering it, he didn't ask you.
  2. You actually know the person and you didn't seek someone out for the money.

As long as it's casual and you don't tell people what you're doing, I don't see it as anything more than doing something nice for a friend, as long as there are no strings attached.

  • +1 Direct and to the point. The only thing I would add is "keep it to yourselves" Never speak of it. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 16:46
  • thank you. I did say "don't tell people what you're doing" but you're right that it does need to be stressed.
    – Chris E
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 16:48
  • Ah, my lexdysia is kicking in today Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 16:50
  • I appreciate the feedback; I felt like this was probably true, but wanted to be sure to avoid opening myself to possible legal trouble down the line.
    – Mr. Gravy
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 16:52

I wouldn't advise it, the best intentioned schemes can look dodgy if someone wants to put a twist on them.

Why share it? If he gets the job you earned it, not him. If he doesn't get the job, no loss. That way it's all above board. No need for keeping secrets or anything else.

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