I'm working on a project with a few developers from my company and a few external consultants. Our scrum master (external) invited us all to dinner to get to know each other better (group building) but said that we will have to pay for ourselves. Me and my coworkers thought this a bit strange, and so one of them (also external) asked our manager why the company wouldn't pay, and got the response that it was because it was our own initiative, and not the company's. (What makes this stranger still, is that a few months ago, management was stimulating these kind of things, because they felt the regular programmers weren't working well with the consultants. So we had several team-building events paid for by the company.)

I'm not comfortable with this. My coworkers are exactly that, coworkers and not friends, so if I have to spend €40 on dinner, I'd rather go with people of my own choosing and to a restaurant that I enjoy. Since everybody from my team is going to this dinner, it makes the dinner obligatory for me, as I don't want to be the one who spoils the whole "team bonding" thing.

What would be my best reaction to all this?

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    Is this just a one off? If so, 40 Euros is not too much to ask for.
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 14:00
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    @EdHeal It might be a one-off thing, maybe there will be other events planned in the future, I don't know. Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 14:04
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    @EdHeal Depending on how much OP earns, whether they have family etc. 40 EUR is substantial. It is not fair from the management to expect them to shell out. That being said, if it is a one-off, it might be wise to just go, but if it is a regular event, the financial situation needs to be set in order. After all, when you go on a business trip, you get your expenses reimbursed for exactly this reason that food out of house is more expensive. Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 14:11
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    The poster comes from the Netherlands and 40 Euros is a small percentage of income. Anyway - assuming they go Dutch (!) - they perhaps just have the main course. Probably get the cost to under 10 euros
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 14:14
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    If you do go, keep your receipt, as you can possibly take a tax writeoff for the business-related expense not covered by your employer.
    – John Wu
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 2:55

6 Answers 6


You can just tell your Scrum master that you are not comfortable spending your own money on a company event, that's outside of working hours. Then, you can ask him whether it's possible to do a team building event during working hours. You might even offer to help him organise it, if you want to emphasise that you do want to improve team relationships, just not on your own dime, outside of work.

Given that this seems to be a team with (at this time) a professional relationship, I wouldn't be surprised if people said no to such a thing within my company. Most people are willing to spend some of their own time to get to know their team, or might be willing to spend some of their money on the clock to have a team lunch, but if an event is organised that requires both your own time and money, it suggests the company just doesn't care. At that point, I would wonder why I should.


It is very unusual to pay for yourself despite being invited. I assume that the dinner will be held outside your work hours, so it is just informal event you don't need to attend.
I would attend once and if similar event will be planned I would raise the issue of paying.


As it is a one off event, and half is getting covered. Go.

Getting people into an informal setting will have some benefits. People do let their guard down and perhaps you can find out 20 euros worth of information.

If this is a recurring event then perhaps protest.

  • Where does it say that half is covered? Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 10:56
  • In the comments by the poster
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 13:02

I would politely decline. You are being asked to give up not only your money, but your time as well. Forget about "spoiling" the team building effort, because you don't go to work to make friends. If there were a layoff and this same scrum master had to pick between him/herself being terminated, or you being terminated, you'd learn quick about so-called friendships in a work setting.

If anyone asks, you can say, "that's just not working for me!" You are not obligated to explain, and you don't need to make up a cover story. Stand your ground and keep your hard-earned money in your pocket.

  • 1
    I generally agree, but if there are layoffs and the boss has to pick between you and a coworker who did attend the dinner, they'll probably keep the coworker.
    – David K
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 18:51
  • The boss isn't the scrum master though! lol
    – Xavier J
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 18:58
  • If there are layoffs, there are other factors which your boss will consider. Absenteeism for extra-curriculum activities not organised by the company itself, would be the least thing on someone's mind when doing layoffs. If you state your opinion, and do not attend for this dinner (irrespective of who's paying and what others think and do - especially if they agree with you but still attend), this shows that you believe and stand behind your principles!!
    – oxyrend
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 20:56

There's no need to make a big deal out of it. Just say something like:

"Oh, I'm sorry, I already have plans that evening. Sorry, I won't be able to make it."

Even if those plans are to sit at home, watch TV and go to bed early...they're plans.

If it becomes an recurring thing, you should discuss it with your manager, but don't make it about not wanting to go, or being resentful over being asked.

"I know €40 may not be much to everyone else, but I don't have it in my budget."


Maybe you should consider really bolding with your colleagues so the next time you'll change the mindset from paying for a company event to have dinner with some friends? I mean, you don't need to become bffs with everybody on your workplace, but we should be more open to developing the relationships with the people we spend half of our lives with.

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