When an employee dies

When an employee dies at work: Employer legal duties


The death of an employee at work, or as a result of work, is one of the most difficult issues an employer will ever have to deal with.

When an employee dies at work

If an employee dies while at work as a result of an accident, natural causes or violence, first call the emergency services. Do not move the body before they arrive.

You must also report a work-related death immediately to the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI). You can report an incident to the HSENI by calling the HSENI Helpline on Tel 0800 032 0121.

When an employee dies later as a result of a work-related accident

If an employee dies as a result of an accident at work within one year of the date of the accident, you must also notify the HSENI about this in writing as soon as it becomes known.

An investigation will then be carried out to determine the circumstances leading to their death.

Employer's duty of care

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees, ie a duty to protect their health, safety and welfare by providing them with a safe working environment.

If an employee dies because you failed in your duty of care and it is found that you or your business have committed an offence you could be fined and/or sent to prison.

Insurance for employers

Most employers are required to have employer's liability insurance. This provides insurance against claims for compensation and legal costs if an employee dies or becomes ill or injured as a result of working for you - see insure your business: people, life and health.

Note that a representative of an employee who has died, usually the executor of their estate, can bring a case against an employer on behalf of the employee.