When a colleague or employee dies it can have a significant affect on individuals in the workplace. For many, the person who died is somebody that they may have spent a lot of time with. If the death was unexpected, or if the dead person’s family or close friends are also employed by the same company/organisation, it may have a greater impact. Naturally, communicating the news of the death of a colleague should be done in a sensitive way that is mindful of the different relationships they may have had in the workplace. There may be areas of the organisation, for example the team where the person worked, where additional support may be required.

first steps

It is important that the employer makes contact with the family of the deceased to offer condolences and agree a contact lead should there be any employment-related queries (e.g. pay, pensions or death in service benefits). Attendance of other staff at the funeral should be considered by managers and any guidance clearly communicated. It may be appropriate to commemorate the person whom died, with the family’s consent and possible involvement.


Every person will deal with the death of a colleague differently. It’s important for employers to:

  • Consider if there are close colleagues who may need some time of work
  • Communicate in a calm, empathetic to help employees feel supported
  • Be flexible and understanding that normal work deadlines may be disrupted
  • Ask close colleagues or team members if there is any important work that they need covered
  • Remember, how an employer deals with the death of a staff member can impact workplace culture

The Grief Encounter helpline, grieftalk can be contacted from 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday. The grieftalk helpline number is 0808 802 0111, or you can chat online or even email us now, we are here to listen.