Employee or employer has to pay for "team building activities" after work

Dear fellow ozbargainer,

I really need your advice for an issue at work, I have been in Australia for just a few years hence I am not quite fluent with the labor law.
Thank you much in advance.

I am working or an organisation where my manager usually suggest to take "team building activities" after work, we discussed it during weekly meeting. I think that employer had to pay for their employees because that benefited the team.

Although they are "optional" but discussing it during weekly meeting creating pressure that you had to go otherwise you are not apart of the team, and ridiculously you have to pay for it yourselves.

I would like to hear your advice and importantly, some website links from the government's law book about it.
Best regards

Update 1:

Thank you so much for your comments my friends, that's very kind of you. I couldn't reply to each of you hence I will post my reply here.

I wouldn't mind paying for my dinner/beer with my teammates after work, I did it so many times without hesitation, I worked with open-minded colleagues, however, my upper managers are the complete opposite.

Having them in any event after work kinda ruin our "team building activities" because we couldn't be authentic anymore and I perceived any after work events with the managers a waste of time and money, that's why I want the company to pay for it if the managers want to be involved.

Update 2:

My nickname is very general and impossible to be traced online, that's a good way to get rid of those tails and rats. I made it with a purpose.

Update 3:

Based on your recommendation, I will say no to any after work events with the managers if I don't want to, no peer pressure here.

HR should be involved if they took it personal with me about that. It's better in general if you could improve your employ-ability at work as a habit day by day. That'll stop the bully from threatening your by your financial stability.


  • Lots of factors, eg depends what it is and how much it costs.

    But generally they should pay for it or some of it…or at least a round of drinks/dinner.

    Perhaps just me, but I wouldn't cave to peer pressure to attend if I didn't want to pay.

  • Give us an example of a team building activity and what it costs. Your post is too vague.

    • +9 votes

      It's probably band/dance rehearsal, given the OP's username.

      I said Step, Pause, Turn, Pause, Pivot, Step STEP. Not Step, Pause, Turn, Pause, Pivot, Step PAUSE!

    • Doesn't matter how vague it is, employees absolutely should not have to pay for any such thing. Either make it mandatory and pay for it or don't bother at all, this whole 'pressuring' crap is weak.

      • Doesn't matter how vague it is,

        It sorta does, because a friend once told me about a "mandatory" team building activity they were being pressured to go to.

        After further questions it was revealed their team get to knock off ~2pm on Fridays, but still get paid to 4pm, and the activity being encouraged was going to a nearby pub together lol.

  • If you don't have a choice (and I mean choice and not peer pressure or perceived requirement), the employer must offer to pay both for the activity and your time.

    Just because the employer offers does not remove the option for the employee to decline.

  • time in lieu.

    • Don't do it.

      I'm not sure why you think it "seems to be .. great" that the employee loses money so that the employer, who is making more money than they are paying the employee, can make more money from the employee.

  • It depends on:
    (a) how much you want to rock the boat;
    (b) how much you value your job; and
    (c) if you would hang out with your colleagues outside of work anyway.

    If you care about your job and you don’t mind hanging out with your colleagues, why not?

  • +2 votes

    Never paid for a single team-building activity in my 14-year career. Even the occasional friday night drinks are on the organisation's tab.

  • Team building can happen during work hours and it's your employer's responsibility to pay for it.

    After hours and optional means tell your manager he is dreaming

  • If your employer refuses to pay just shake it off.

  • Employees that are not team players are first out the door when business is slow.

    • Good, I wouldn't want to work in such a toxic workplace anyway where this is what's considered being a 'team player'.

      • Maybe that workplace is using this scenario to weed out certain qualities, not necessarily "poor team players".

        Perhaps the purpose of the team exercise is to gauge the response of employees when approaching the subject of money and perception of free will.

        The company's primary function may be providing PR support to high stakes business transactions and an employee that cannot see the macro objective and suspend anxiety to recoup costs will be the first to go.

  • Just tell them you have a Taylor swift concert to go to that night.

    Also are you a bot or a real person? I'm voting a bot.

  • It’s optional, so no you don’t have to go and they don’t have to pay you for it. The company should pay for the activity. I reckon you should go to build better relationships with your colleagues and boss to be seen as a “team player”. Really depends how long you want to stay at this company or not.

  • In one place I worked, we had an 8am pre-meeting morning coffee an hour prior to our actual team meeting at 9am, every fortnight. I went two or three times in a row when I started, and then once a month. It was a small group, and we did get along well, but we didn't recoupe that time, so I just went when it suited me.

    After-hours team building activities, where you have to pay is different. You shouldn't be expected to participate and pay. If it's just Friday night drinks or similar, your boss should put at least the first drink on the tab.

    • If it's just Friday night drinks or similar, your boss should put at least the first drink on the tab.

      Being heavily discouraged in larger corps as employees are suing for workplace injuries/incidents by implying paid drinks indicates it's a work function. Just ask Telstra - they seem to be the goto defendant in these sort of matters!

  • You'll need to be more specific
    Give an example
    Generally No, and no I wouldn't go, create an ongoing commitment so you "cant" go.
    However, one workplace I had there was some strong encouragement but it started half hour before the end of day, was onsite and was free snacks and cheap social club drinks. I would go but for 30-45mins or so, So most of the time was covered, no travel costs, and I didn't buy drinks much, and when I chose to they were $3.

  • Employer needs to pay for your time and activity cost.

    Even if they pay then also activity needs to be within your contracted hour of work unless you as an employee agree to go outside your normal working hours.

    Best reason I provided in past for evening time out is that after 5pm it's time for my family.

  • Why should you … you are not getting paid. This is a cheap game by the employer. If you complain, they will commence a power game and at the end of the day they will win.

  • +1 vote

    If it's mandatory, they should pay you your normal work rate + OT and whatever the course/exercise costs
    If it's and optional course, you pay if you go, if you don't want to go you don't have to
    If they start bullying you report it to HR or workcover and find a new workplace

    • Seems a bit of an overkill for drinks at a pub.

      All op has to day is that he already has a prearranged dinner with friends and his out of the work function.

      • +1 vote

        I was more thinking of training/bonding days on weekends like managerial retreats and the like. I don’t think the bonding sessions would just be drinks down the pub. You should not need any excuse to do nothing in your own time over going to a work related function. If it’s mandatory to go, work pays your time and any fees related.

  • Having them in any event after work kinda ruin our "team building activities" because we couldn't be authentic anymore and I perceived any after work events with the managers a waste of time and money, that's why I want the company to pay for it if the managers want to be involved.

    Clearly you are not interested in politically alighting yourself with your managers with a view for promotion. To be honest your world view is screwed. Your coworkers are your competitors. Your managers are the ones who will grant promotions and bonuses.