Introduction to this document

Response to ex-employee’s grievance

If a former employee raises a grievance, legally you don’t have to deal with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to ignore it. Use our letter to reply.

No legal obligation

Whilst you must deal with written grievances raised by current employees to ensure compliance with the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, as well as to avoid a possible constructive dismissal claim, the same doesn’t apply to grievances that may be raised by staff who are no longer in your employment. As the law currently stands, you don’t need to deal with any grievances raised by former employees.

Safe to ignore?

That said, you shouldn’t just automatically ignore the grievance, as the former employee might be raising a very valid issue that merits further investigation, and it may well be a precursor to an employment tribunal claim. Grievances that they might raise once they’ve left employment could include, but aren’t limited to, those about incorrect final salary payments, unsafe working practices or bullying, harassment or discrimination.

Response letter

Our Response to Ex-Employee’s Grievance letter advises the individual that your grievance procedure only applies to current employees and therefore you won’t be inviting them to attend a formal grievance meeting. However, it then goes on to include four optional paragraphs, which you can adapt or amend as appropriate:

  • confirmation that you won’t be taking the matter any further – this may be appropriate if the ex-employee is simply having a bit of a moan about one or two trivial matters
  • an acceptance that there’s been an error in the ex-employee’s final salary payment calculation, with a promise to rectify the error as soon as possible
  • a denial of any such error, with reasons why
  • a confirmation that there will be an investigation into the ex-employee’s allegations of, for example, unsafe working practices or bullying and harassment, and that you may contact them again in due course to assist in that investigation – you might want to invite them to a meeting so that you can take a more detailed witness statement from them, or alternatively you might decide that you don’t need their further input if their grievance letter was sufficiently detailed to enable your investigation to progress.

Where you are conducting an investigation into a former employee’s grievance, you’ve no duty to report back to them on the outcome of it, nor do you need to advise them about what steps you’ll be taking (if any) in consequence of that outcome. If you do report back though, be careful what you say as the ex-employee may well have been fishing for information to support a proposed employment tribunal claim, which is more likely if their grievance related to their own treatment, as opposed to incidents they witnessed relating to other staff. So, don’t make any direct admissions of wrongdoing or malpractice, whether by the business or by any of your employees.