Guidelines when dealing with the death of a current staff member

If you are notifying the Univeristy of the death of a member of staff then please see further information on who you need to contact and what information we will need.

Advice for line managers and colleagues


The death of an employee can be a traumatic experience for those who are left to deal with the loss of a colleague. The information below provides guidance to assist managers and other members of staff who are faced with the difficult situation of a colleague dying.  It outlines the steps that the University and its employees should take following the death of a colleague.

There are a number of ways in which the University might be notified that an employee has died.

  • Contact by the employee's family/next of kin or told by another employee who is a close friend of the deceased.
  • The authorities.  For example, after a catastrophic event such as a natural disaster/accident.

The death of the employee may be sudden or the result of a long illness which individuals within the College/Service may already be aware of.

if you are the first person to be contacted by someone connected to the deceased member (not necessarily a relative) to inform the University of the death of a member of staff please be sensitive to how they may be talking to you.

  • Offer your condolences and support;
  • Offer to call them back or chat to them at a later time if they are very upset;
  • Gently ask questions about the date and details of the death;
  • Ask who the best person is to contact for information - who do the family want the University to contact?
  • Make sure that they know that the University will do all they can to make any requests for necessary information as simple as possible;
  • Ask if there is anyone at the University they wish to contact or offer to do this on their behalf.

When following these steps following the death of an employee, line managers should be flexible and sensitive to the circumstances. 

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Next Steps

When a manager or member of staff receives notification that a colleague has died, they should immediately notify HR and the line manager of the individual who has died.

It is important that all appropriate personnel are informed.  Please see the Death in Service Flowchart. The PVC/Director of Service will wish to send condolences and inform colleagues, Payroll need to ensure that all pay details are settled and other teams such as Finance and Communications may also need to be advised.  HR will ensure that the following people are notified (as appropriate):

  • PVC/Director of Service
  • Payroll Team
  • Director of Marketing, Recruitment, Communications and Global
  • Registrar and Secretary who will inform the VC as appropriate
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Occupational Health Team
  • Insurance, Audit and Risk Manager (but only if the death is due to an accident that occurred whilst the member of staff was carrying out his/her University related activities, including commuting).

It is important that all staff ensure that up-to-date contact details for themselves and their Emergency Contact are recorded in Trent Self Service (the University's HR database).

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Death on campus

If the death occurs on campus or as a result of a specific ‘critical incident’, then the Emergency Services should be contacted immediately and the procedure outlined in the Welfare Incident Plan should be followed.

Support available

There are a number of places were support can be found at the University.  Below are listed a few:

Occupational Health

Spectrum Life

Exeter Bereavement and Grief Support Booklet


Information correct as of May 2022