There's a big departmental picnic coming up; I've been told that, as a contractor, I won't be paid for the time if I do go to the picnic. However, as an integral member of the team (I definitely do as much and participate as fully as the employees on the team, and we're looking to get me hired-in full time as soon as possible), it seems odd to turn down a group bonding activity. It'll eat up half a day; should I eat the revenue loss for the sake of team bonding, or should I go to the office anyway and sit there by myself working?

  • 3
    In the UK, at least, there are legal and taxation considerations to take.
    – Oded
    Sep 7, 2012 at 19:30
  • 2
    @Oded I had no idea. Retagged with geography. Sep 7, 2012 at 19:31
  • There are legal considerations in the US as well. Something along the lines of "if you're offered all the same things a full-time employee is offered, you may be considered a full-time employee by the government." If you're contracted through another agency, ask your contact(s) there how this should be handled. They will know the boundaries & legal concerns better.
    – alroc
    Sep 14, 2012 at 1:46
  • @alroc My company's paranoid about that (only letting contractors stay on for a maximum amount of time that wouldn't make them eligible for benefits if they were employees, et cetera), so the fact that I was specifically told it'd be okay means I'm probably fine to go on that front. Sep 14, 2012 at 12:28
  • 1
    Is staying for an hour or two an option?
    – user8365
    Oct 9, 2012 at 15:07

8 Answers 8


Consider that there may be a third choice - ask if you can make up the hours through the rest of the week and then go and still get paid the full amount.

  • They're usually flexible about this, but in practice making up 5-6 hours of work is difficult in the course of a week. Usually I can make up 1-3 with a little trouble, for things like doctors appointments. Sep 7, 2012 at 19:33
  • Making up 3 and losing 2 is better than losing 5. But you should easily be able to do 4 by doing 1 hour a day extra. And an hour and ahalf a day gets you 6.
    – HLGEM
    Sep 7, 2012 at 19:36
  • 1
    This was the approach I've taken a number of times when I was working contract. Some companies are OK with it, others aren't.
    – jfrankcarr
    Sep 7, 2012 at 19:38
  • what can sometimes be done as well is working through your direct superior to get permission to bill the hours as extra hours worked on other days that weren't actually worked. So for the next week, bill 9 hours a day when working 8 (of course after getting permission, preferably in writing or at least email). That's how my managers in the past handled such issues if and when those higher up still demanded people attend out of hours activities without compensation.
    – jwenting
    Oct 10, 2012 at 6:43

As a contractor, if things are going well you can afford to take the time off and do a bit of networking. If they aren't you shouldn't turn down free food.

  • 5
    Right there, this is the right way to look at it. If you do not desperately need the cash, GO. the benefits of the networking and fellowship are enormous. If you do, however, desperately need the cash, you shouldn't pass up what sounds like it would be an above-decent, free lunch. (bring tupperware in the latter case)
    – acolyte
    Sep 7, 2012 at 19:47

I think in the long run, the team-building that this picnic offers is probably much more important than the half-day of pay. Unless you really need that money, go have fun at the picnic!


I have been in a similar situation and have bristled when the company calls it a team bonding/team building event and makes integral members of the team take leave without pay to attend the event. I just skip those events.

If the event is held after work or on a weekend I am actually more willing to attend because then everybody is on equal footing.

Keep in mind the food isn't free, it is costing you four billable hours.


I'm always pro-team building. Can you put a price on your team's perception of you in the long run? It's hard enough being looked at as an outsider on a team because you're a consultant. Now, putting in the extra effort to distance yourself from an all-too-cheap bonding experience (not to mention the free grub) like a team picnic, to sit at work by yourself seems... I don't know, seems kinda unpleasant. They'll either think of you as money-loving or you don't care about bonding with them. Unless of course if that's not a priority.


If you are looking to get permanent in the office, you should definitely focus on improving your relationships with your fellow colleagues as well as your seniors. Going to a trip with them is really a good option for this.

Also if letting down half day salary is not gonna cost you much, then you should definitely attend the trip.

Also, talking to your senior about working for extra hours to make up for the trip time will definitely show your loyalty towards work and also your half day salary would be saved.

So you should definitely go to trip and ask your senior to make up for the half day loss by working in extra hours.


It sounds like you're gelling well with the team if they're going to bring you on full-time. If you are on track to getting hired and just need to get past the paperwork phase, it may be a wise choice to go.

If missing that half day of work will really hurt you, maybe just attend for an hour and then politely leave. It seems like what matters in your situation is making an appearance to show goodwill? Just bothering to show up makes a big difference to people. Even if you're only present for a short time, people will remember.

And then it sounds like you do have the ability to make up some hours and earn back the lost time. For things like this, I personally think it's best not to sweat the small stuff if it's just a temporary situation heading in a promising direction.


I've worked as a contract employee, and when I have been invited to company functions which take place during the day, I put them on my time sheet along with the work hours. You can ask your supervisor ahead of time, but if they approve it, then you should do it. If the supervisor says not they won't or can't, then ask if it would be alright for you to stay in the office and work.

If this is an event during your off hours, it would be in your best interests to attend the function.

  • 2
    As I stated in the question, I was specifically told I wouldn't be paid for that time. Oct 8, 2012 at 12:17
  • Then find out what the client supervisor wants you to do. In my experience, as I said they always asked me to attend and signed the time sheet for a regular 8 hour day.
    – Edward
    Oct 8, 2012 at 12:34
  • Yeah, but that implies you're being paid for it, given you're being paid the usual rate but doing no work. I was told I could go, but I'd not be reporting those hours as hours worked, and hence not getting paid. Anyway, I ended up going but bailed after an hour because I managed to catch the office cold and would have gone home sick at lunchtime anyway, so I figured that'd be a decent compromise. Made up the hours later as best I could. Oct 8, 2012 at 12:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .