So here's the situation, my office had a few interns who ended their stint and we had a farewell lunch.

After the lunch, I made payment first because I was the person who ordered the lunch (as per my boss's request) and now I find myself caught in a dilemma of how I would ask my colleagues to fork out money for a meal they have already eaten.

Note: they knew there was a lunch going on but it is safe to hazard a guess that they didn't think they needed to fork out any money for it.

How should I go about collecting the money?

  • 10
    as per my boss's request. My suggestion is: talk to him to make this his headache.
    – Nobody
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 7:28
  • 9
    Ask your boss if you could be reimbursed and the meal counted as a business expense.
    – JB King
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 7:29
  • My boss made me go around collecting the money since I said I paid it
    – Nick
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 7:31
  • 1
    You should have told them clearly in advance. If it's not much money to you, you could simply absorb the cost, you could ask the boss for reimbursement, or you could sheepishly explain the situation to your cow-orkers and hope they fork over the funds, Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 8:01
  • 8
    The usual method is to collect the money while everyone is still sitting at the table, and someone takes the money and pays the bill. If someone has no cash, that person would keep all the cash and pay the bill by card. If you leave the table without saying a word and pay the bill, people will assume the company pays, and things get awkward.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 9:48

4 Answers 4


I don't know why your boss is being such a scumbag about taking ownership of the situation but if he isn't then I would sent a group email CCing him explaining that you hope everyone enjoyed their time and so forth and ask if they can drop off to you their share of the expenses the next few days. If you suspect they thought this was a free meal then clarify that as well. Any negative backlash will be and should be dealt with by your manager for the confusion around the situation and the fact he is avoiding it makes me think you should keep a careful eye on this guy in the future.


There is no good way to ask your co-workers after leaving the table. At the time, asking them how they wanted to handle it - seperate checks, checks or cash later would have been appropriate.

If your supervisor told you to pay, I would suggest sending him a copy of the receipt with a request for instructions on asking reimbursement. Something along the lines of "Here is the reciept for the lunch you told me to pay for, is there a form I need to fill out to request reimbursement? Do you handle this or do I need to send it to someone else?"

If you simply took it upon yourself to pay the whole bill, then I would suggest that you simply chalk it up as lessons learned -- everyone, including your supervisor, have quite reasonably concluded that you were feeling generous and treated them all to lunch. Asking any of them to pay after the fact is almost inevitably going to lower their opinion of you -- about the only way around that is if you are from a different culture and can plead justifiable ignorance. Asking after the fact seems like you have changed your mind about treating them -- same as if you had handed out Christmas gifts and then went around asking for the gift back.

I suggest that in the future, you either tell the resturant to use seperate checks, or break down everyones portion in advance.


The best thing you can do is to try to get reimbursement from your employer, if that fails then just eat the cost yourself and let the boss know you've done that.

Asking for money after the fact could reflect badly on you and/or your boss.

Presumably the people going to lunch were not expecting to pay. This is totally reasonable in most places because the business rule is that subordinates who are asked to attend a meal that is part of a work activity/function/celebration are not expected to pay.


Write down an e-mail explaining that they need to get the money to you and ask your boss to send it to everybody from his address, since it was a company lunch and it should ultimately be his responsibility, holding your money hostage by explicitly ordering you to pay isn't ethical either but since he doesn't want to give you the money, you don't have many other alternatives, and this is a middle ground which he may accept.

Asking everybody for the money yourself would be weird and put pressure on your relations, which isn't good.

I'm not sure any of this matters to your boss since he's making employees pay for a company lunch, but it doesn't hurt him financially to send that e-mail so he might do it.

There's also the chance he doesn't want to deal with employees being surprised that the company isn't covering it, so maybe he won't even do this, because he wants the subconscious emotional blame to be on you. In this case evaluate the amount of money and depending on the kind of workplace, you could just eat it (I doubt it's feasible given that you weren't just 2 people). If your colleagues are understanding and you're on good terms, I'd ask rather than eat it.

  • I'm new so I'm not really on good terms, but I sort of want to handle this well so that I am better equipped to face similar situations-, yeah the lunch was quite pricey
    – Nick
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 15:49

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