Charlie hands in her letter of resignation saying she will be leaving at the end of her notice. It is simple, clear and thanks you for her time with your business. The next thing you know, Charlie has written to your CEO with a letter raising a grievance, alleging she has been bullied.
The classic example of an employee who complains after resigning. Often the complaint will be about something that happened some time ago too!
As Charlie remains employed for the time being, you should deal with the complaint as you would with any other employee and follow your grievance procedure. If you fail to do that, then the employee could submit a further grievance and use this as evidence to support a subsequent constructive unfair dismissal claim.
Even if a complaint doesn’t say it’s a ‘grievance’, it’s important to consider if the substance does involve one. If you need assistance in dealing with grievances of any type, we’ve got some information here.
Peter left your business three weeks ago after he handed in his resignation and worked his notice. He has now emailed you to outline issues he never raised with you while employed. His tone is disgruntled and complaining.
Deciding if you should investigate this and take it more seriously is often a tactical decision. There is no legal requirement for you to formally investigate a complaint made so long after the employment ends. However, it may be worth discussing the concerns with the employee to establish if there are issues you need to know about to avoid other employees making complaints or leaving because of their treatment.
If an ex-employee references discrimination or bullying within the workplace, it is wise to investigate and to take any remedial action if necessary following the investigation.
More employees nowadays are raising complaints about how the business is operated. Sometimes, this can be a cynical attempt to create a situation where they can negotiate an ex-gratia payment. It is important, however, not to ignore complaints as you could find you are later facing whistleblowing or breach of contract claims. You may, for example, be unaware that issues have been raised previously and the employee is raising them again. Ignoring complaints could reinforce their position that they were dismissed because they raised those issues or that there was a fundamental breach of contract as a consequence of your failure to address the concerns.
Sharon leaves and subsequently takes to her social media to express negative views about the company and its employees. She also places a 1-star review on Glassdoor.
Rather than raising a complaint with her employer, Sharon decides to make her views known on a public forum. This is an increasingly popular approach. The nature of social media means it offers employees an outlet for their frustrations and receive immediate affirmations of sympathy or encouragement from their followers who in turn then go onto share the posts with their followers. This can potentially cause significant damage to the business and its reputation.
It’s important nowadays to be ready for this and ensure your contracts of employment contain clauses that apply during and after the employment ends to prevent this happening. For example, social media and confidentiality restrictions. By having clauses in place, you can potentially seek damages for breach of contract. If your contracts don’t have the right contractual obligations, there is the law on defamation that can assist here in more limited ways. Our employment lawyers are often engaged to step in and stop posts from employees like ‘Sharon’ to prevent further damage.
How to avoid these scenarios
Hopefully your business does not have to deal with any complaints from employees after they resign. Here are some things you can do though to avoid current or former employees causing issues such like this:
- Try to create a working environment where employees feel able to raise complaints informally with their managers, without letting concerns stew
- Carefully manage employee exits – holding exit interviews is one way to reduce the risk of employees raising complaints after their employment has ended
- Ensure your contracts and policies contain obligations you can rely on when employment ends, remind employees of their obligations
How Loch Associates Group can help you avoid post-resignation complaints
If you would like to find out if your contracts contain robust clauses to protect you or if you need help with complaints from employees after they resign then please get in touch and our experts will be happy to help.