When a colleague dies, you should think about how you will support the family of the employee who has died, as well as other colleagues. You will also need to remember to look after yourself.

Practical steps following the death of an employee

Contact the family

Speak to your employee’s family and ask them how much information they would like you to share with others. They might prefer for you to wait until they’ve been able to contact their own family and friends.

You may choose to offer your condolences at the same time or write to them separately, together with condolences from colleagues, depending on the family’s wishes.

Payroll and other payments due

You must make all outstanding payments following the death of an employee. You may also have to pay insurance benefits and other outstanding monies, such as expenses. GOV.UK covers the practicalities of making these payments in what to do when an employee dies.

Laptops and other company property

As painful as this may be, you will need to think of the death of an employee as a termination of employment and ensure that all your organisation’s equipment is in the office or returned to it promptly. You may be able to disable sensitive information remotely, if necessary.

Comforting your employees

The death of a colleague can hit co-workers very hard and, as an employer, this is something to consider so that you can tailor the support you offer accordingly.

Once you’ve spoken to the family, you might choose to speak to those who worked most closely with the employee who has died, especially team members, before spreading the word more widely around the organisation.

It’s also good policy to be able to offer grief support to your employees. For some of them, it could feel like losing a family member or close friend, so the more support you can put in place the better.

Prepare for the fact that some employees may also need to take some time off to start considering their loss and employees may also wish to attend their colleague’s funeral. Also consider how religious beliefs and diversity might affect the way colleagues are grieving.

It might help you to read our bereavement articles on Supporting a grieving friend or relative and Dealing with grief and bereavement at work.

Find out more

See Hospice UK's Compassionate Employers hub  where there are tools and information to support you with wellbeing and bereavement in the workplace.

Related pages

  • Supporting a bereaved employee: there are two very important things you can do to support bereaved employees: create a culture where it’s okay to talk about bereavement and offer practical support.
  • Looking after yourself: advice for looking after both yourself and others following the death of someone important to you.
  • What are the emotions of grief?: we look at some of the thoughts and emotions that you may feel during a time that can be both disturbing and frightening.

The EPiC Resource Centre is kindly sponsored by Cleenol: working for a cleaner, safer, kinder world.