The ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures does not expressly state that it applies to grievances raised by employees who have already left the organisation. However, employers may feel it appropriate to engage with an individual’s grievance in the hope of resolving minor issues, without the need for the ex-employee to pursue tribunal proceedings.
There are circumstances where employers should follow their grievance procedures to deal with a grievance raised by an ex-employee, in order to avoid the risk of additional compensation being awarded against them.
For example, where an ex-employee submits a grievance about an issue that could lead to a tribunal claim, the employer could potentially avoid an uplift to any compensation by dealing with the grievance in line with the ACAS code.
In addition, in dealing with the grievance, more serious issues such as; bullying, discrimination, racism or sexual harassment may be uncovered by the employer, constituting a more serious problem that needs further investigation to avoid further issues with other employees and a perceived lack of trust and good practice in the workplace.
Employers may also feel they have a moral responsibility of investigating certain complaints. If there are issues within the structure of the business causing employees to leave, then it becomes important to handle and remedy them.
It is worth noting however, that (depended on the nature of the complaint) it is not imperative for an employer to involve the ex-employee further in the investigation process. They may choose instead to acknowledge the complaint and complete internal investigations, without needing to initiate further dialogue with the former employee.
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