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Dealing with the death of an employee

Many know what it’s like to have a friend, loved one or coworker pass away at a moment’s notice. The pain and agony it can cause often leave their loved ones feeling distressed and their coworkers and managers often lose a valuable team member.

As family, friends and coworkers continue to grieve, an employee’s sudden death can leave their workplace’s HR department with unfinished business. That’s because an employee’s passing can often create challenges. Managers often have to address the matter with their staff while figuring out how to handle the departed worker’s payroll and benefits.

Steps to take when an employee dies

Here is what employers should do:

  • Request a death certificate from the family: Typically, these are available 1 to 2 weeks after a person dies. While it’s essential to confirm this information, employers should do so with tact and grace, as families are often still mourning.
  • Start the COBRA notification process: An employee’s death can qualify their family to continue receiving company benefits like health care. If that’s the case, employers should start filing the necessary paperwork and contact the insurance company sooner rather than later.
  • Distribution of final wages: The employee’s last paycheck typically goes to those who oversee their estate. While Georgia doesn’t have a law specifying when businesses should send the check, federal requirements say the money must get delivered on or before the regular payday of the last pay period.

Withholding employment taxes

Any outstanding wages that haven’t been paid until the following calendar year often aren’t subject to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid taxes. However, employers should check with the Georgia Department of Labor before making any decisions.

Losing a worker can be hard

No matter their position or performance, losing an employee can be heartbreaking for any business. That’s why it’s essential to approach the issue respectfully, as such a loss may emotionally impact many.