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Tuesday, 07 February 2017 11:23

HR Responsibilities When an Employee Death Occurs

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One of the most difficult times for any business is following the death of an employee. Thinking ahead and being prepared for this unfortunate circumstance will help ease the burden.

If the death happens while the employee is at work:

  • Call 911 immediately.
    Contact the employee’s emergency contact (now might be a good time to do an audit to make sure your records are up-to-date).
  • Contact OSHA if the death is work-related.
  • Notify employees and let them know more details will be made available, (e.g. funeral arrangements, flowers, donations, help for the family). Continue to communicate with your employees as facts come in. 
  • If the death occurs outside of work, notify employees as stated above. 

Next Steps: 

  • Consider designating an internal contact person for fellow employees to contact, as this helps limit employees from making direct contact with the family. You may want to consider providing a special or lasting tribute to the employee. 
  • Be prepared to provide grieving employees and surviving family members with an outlet for counseling. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a great way to help with these matters. Depending on the EAP, members can receive in-person, on-site, and/or telephonic grief counseling, often at no charge.
  • Inform customers/clients who had a direct connection with the deceased and reallocate work as needed. 
  • Locate all beneficiary designations and begin the process of notifying all involved parties, including filing a Life Claim with your existing Life Insurance Carrier. Beneficiary assistance may be available to the surviving family members through EAP or the Life insurance carrier.
  • The traditional termination checklist should be followed including processing benefits (which may include offering COBRA or Continuation benefits to the surviving family members) and final wages. Confirm the law in the state of the employee’s residence for issues such as final pay and associated tax issues.
  • Stay in contact with the family as deemed appropriate. Provide support and offer to forward personal belongings rather than leaving this task to the family. 
These thoughts should help employers better handle the death of an employee. You may have additional items to add to your internal checklist. Being prepared will allow you to be there for your employees and help the grieving family through this challenging process. 
Read 2229 times Last modified on Monday, 14 September 2020 19:25