UCL Human Resources


Death in Service Guidance (Employees)



1. This guidance is to inform managers and employees of the procedures to follow in the unfortunate circumstances when a colleague dies in service.  It is recognised that the circumstances where an employee dies in service are always different and will require individually tailored approaches within the parameters set out below.  This guidance also provides details of additional sources of support and advice for managers and employees.

2. In the event of the death of a student, please read the separate guidance on the Academic Services webpage.


3. If an employee’s death occurs on UCL premises, the employee discovering the death should call 222 for Security who will then call the ambulance service, police and Gower Street Practice.

4. The Head of Division/Dean should then be notified and ascertain that the police have been informed so that arrangements are in place for the police to inform Next of Kin. The HR Pensions Manager should be contacted for the Next of Kin/Emergency Contact details, as held on HR systems.  

Under no circumstances should anyone try to contact the Next of Kin, until notified by the HR Pensions Manager that the police have advised it is appropriate to do so.

5. If the individual is an overseas national, the police will contact the Embassy or High Commission, which will inform the Next of Kin and assist with repatriation where necessary.

6. In every occurrence of the death of an employee, the line manager should inform the relevant Head of Division/Dean and the HR Pensions Manager as soon as practicable. 

7. The HR Pensions Manager will provide a single point of contact within HR to ensure all contractual, pay and pensions matters are dealt with, even where the employee was not in a pension scheme.  They will also communicate with the Next of Kin/family of the deceased as appropriate. 

8. In all instances Provost will send a letter of condolence to the next of kin and may write a message 'In memorandum' for circulation within UCL as appropriate.  Assistance will be given by the HR Pensions Manager, who will liaise with the department for some background information relating to the deceased employee’s work, UCL career and personality.

9. It might also be appropriate at this stage in the process for the Head of Division or Dean to contact the next of kin or to send a sympathy card and flowers. They are also responsible for having any notices posted.

10. As an employer UCL has a legal duty to report serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses) to the Health and Safety Executive. Therefore, if the death happened at work or was work-related, the employee’s manager must inform UCL Safety Services, Occupational Health and the HR Pensions Manager.  The HR Pensions Manager will liaise with the Insurance Manager as appropriate with regards to a potential claim under the UCL Personal Accident Policy.

11. The employee’s manager should ensure that HR is notified of the death of an employee electronically by completing a Leaver request via Departmental Transactions on MyHR as quickly as possible.  This must include the date of death and any untaken annual leave entitlement, to ensure that the employee’s final pay can be processed completely and accurately.  The person responsible for completing the Departmental Transaction notification should also carry out checks to see if any other monies are due, for example overtime or additional work completed but not yet submitted to HR. The Manager should also notify the Information Services Division (ISD) and Security Services so that access arrangements for systems and buildings can be updated.

12. At this stage colleagues, work contacts and students of the deceased should be notified by the employee’s manager, in a planned and dignified manner.  However, discretion and the wishes of the Next of Kin should be used to determine who should be notified and how much information should be shared.  This is especially important where the death has been sudden and unexpected or due to suicide. 

13. If the next of kin wishes, it may be appropriate to share details of the funeral, so colleagues can attend. It may also be appropriate for a representative of UCL to attend in an official capacity.  Requests for time off to attend the funeral should be dealt with tactfully and sensitively.

14. It is likely that the deceased will have left personal possessions in the workplace which will need to be made available to the next of kin. The line manager will be responsible for keeping any items safe until arrangements are made for their collection.  The HR Pensions Manager will be able to clarify who the next of kin is and anyone visiting to collect personal possessions should be asked to confirm their identity.

Additional Support

15. The death of a colleague can have a big impact on individuals and teams and line managers may have to be proactive in providing support.  Assistance is available through the UCL Occupational Health Service (OHS) and the relevant HR Business Partner for the Department or equivalent.   

Occupational Health

16. OHS can advise on appropriate support for a team or department that is dealing with the shock of the unexpected death of a colleague

17. If an individual has been particularly affected by the death of a colleague and this has had an impact on their own health or work performance, then a referral to UCL's Occupational Health Service may be helpful.  OHS can provide confidential support to the individual and advice to the manager on how they can help support their staff at work. 

Employee Assistance Programme

18. In addition the free, Employee Assistance Programme is available to all UCL employees at any time. This is an independent and confidential counselling, help and support service, covering consumer, debt and legal information services, wellbeing web pages and short-term counselling. No referral is necessary and highly trained, professional staff are accessible by telephone, email, through the website or via instant messaging. They offer a wide range of services and provide 24hr access to trained counsellors.


19. The following links also provide some helpful guidance for managers or individuals dealing with traumatic events at work:

Advice on Dealing with a Traumatic Event



20. It may be necessary to organise interim cover as quickly as possible, before recruiting permanently to fill the post which has been left vacant.  Usual procedures should be followed with discretion and the needs of the division/department should be taken into account when considering the appropriate timescales for this.  Please speak to your HR Advisory Services contact for further advice and support.


1) Checklist
2) Key Contacts

Appendix 1: Checklist

To do


Line Manager to contact Head of Division/Dean and HR Pensions Manager as soon as possible.
(NB The HR Pensions Manager will notify any other HR colleagues as appropriate)


Line Manager to inform colleagues, work contacts and students as appropriate, in a planned and dignified manner


Line Manager to ensure HR notification through SIP is completed as quickly as possible, including date of death, any untaken annual leave and overtime or additional work completed but not yet submitted.


Line Manager to ensure ISD and Security Services are notified.


Line Manager to also contact Safety Services and Occupational Health if death was at work, or work related


Line Manager responsible for keeping any personal possessions safe until arrangements made for collection by next of kin


Provost to send letter of condolence, assisted by HR Pensions Manager


Head of Division/Dean to arrange any notices to be posted and contact next of kin/send flowers as appropriate


OHS can advise on appropriate support for a team or department that is dealing with the death of a colleague


HR Advisory Services can provide advice and support where necessary regarding the recruitment process to fill the post left vacant.


Appendix 2: Key contacts

If a death occurs on UCL premises, contact Security immediately

Emergency number

Internal: 222 (from any UCL telephone)

Line Managers should ensure the following are notified as soon as is practicable:

Head of Division/Dean

Contact details can be found here - www.ucl.ac.uk/about/who/leadership-team

HR Pensions Manager

(The HR Pensions Manager will notify any other HR Colleagues as appropriate)

Internal: 41999
External: 020 7679 1999

Information Services Division (ISD)

Internal: 25000
External: 020 7679 5000
Email: servicedesk@ucl.ac.uk

Security Services

Internal: 32108
External: 020 7679 2108

In addition, if the death happened at work or was work related:

Safety Services

Internal: 45913
External: 020 7679 5913

Workplace Health

Internal: 32802
External: 020 7679 2802
Email: wh.wellbeing@ucl.ac.uk / wh.occupationalhealth@ucl.ac.uk

Employee Assistance Programme

Please see information on the Employee Assistance Programme page.