Managing death in service

A death of an employee can be a traumatic experience for managers, colleagues and clients or customers.  Grief effects people in a variety of ways, and it can be difficult to know if someone is managing or struggling with their feelings. Here are some steps to bear in mind:

  • Inform any regulatory authorities, if necessary. If the death is connected to a work-related incident, it may need to be reported to the HSE.
  • If the death was related to a work-place accident, ensure that a thorough investigation is carried out and processes put in place to reduce the risk of a similar incident.
  • Contact the employee’s next of kin to express your condolences and confirm any benefits to which they might be entitled.
  • It is common for colleagues, or a representative from the organisation to attend the funeral.
  • Update your systems promptly to ensure that no correspondence is sent (by post or electronically) for the employee, it can be particularly difficult for family members to receive such correspondence following a death.
  • Think of your remaining employees and/or clients – did the individual work particularly closely with one or two team members? Give them time to pay their respects – be open about funeral details, for example.  Were the circumstances of the death difficult?  Consider if any of the team need time to process what has happened.  If anyone does seem to be struggling, consider any further support you can offer (eg a course of counselling).

Pay and benefits

  • Any outstanding payments (eg overtime, holiday accrued but not taken etc) must be paid. The date the employee died should be notified to HMRC via the Full Payment Submission (FPS) with the ‘date of leaving’ the date of death.  If you make a mistake, or you were not aware of the death until after your payroll date, this can be adjusted on the next FPS.  Contact HMRC if you have any queries.
  • Process any life assurance, pension or other death in service benefits quickly.

Moving forward

  • In general. make sure that records are up to date, specifically next of kin details and nomination forms for death in service benefits (eg Pension, life assurance). It’s a good idea to ask employees to update these at least annually.
  • Consider putting in place a procedure to follow for death in service, including appointing an individual for notifying others (including the next of kin if the death happens at work) and the process to follow for pay and benefits etc. Ensure this person is adequately trained and is given support following each case.

PSHR are on hand to offer advice and guidance please contact us on 01473 653000 or at


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