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Managers guide to death in service

Last reviewed on 06 February 2018

Sadly there are times when colleagues pass away and we know you’ll want to deal with these situations sensitively and professionally. So we’ve created this guide to help you, as you support the colleagues’ family and make sure all the necessary admin arrangements are carried out. All template letters and forms can be found on the Intranet.

We know you may find dealing with a colleague’s death difficult and might want to talk to someone about the situation and what you need to do - so if you need any support, contact ER Services.

Telling People

Your direct line manager

Firstly, please share with your immediate line manager and local People Advisor (formally HR Advisor) that one of our colleagues has sadly passed away. They will be able to escalate this further for you and provide any support you or the colleague’s family might need.

You might find it helpful to use the wording in template letter DIS2 (on the intranet within the managers’ forms and letters page) in an email or feel free to use your own.

HR Services

As soon as you can, you’ll need to call HR Services on 0330 606 1001 to let them know about the colleagues’ death. HR Services will take care of the process to end the colleague’s employment - you won’t be able to do this yourself. You’ll need to give them the following information when you call:

  • Name and employee number of the deceased colleague
  • Date of the colleagues’ death
  • Cause of the colleagues’ death – if known at this stage
  • Date of last day colleague worked

You can use template form DIS1 (on the intranet within the managers’ forms and letters page) to record information about the colleague, which you’ll need to gather to support the death in service process.

Just so you’re aware, HR Services will send the colleague’s family their final payslip with a letter offering their condolences.


Only once you have the express permission of the Next of Kin/family, should you decide the most appropriate way of telling the team about their colleague’s death – whether this is in a team meeting or individually in person, over the phone or by email, depending on how close their relationship was. You might want to adapt the text in template DIS2 (on the intranet within the managers’ forms and letters page) for this. There’s more information below about providing support for your team.

Condolence letter

As soon as possible after you learn of the colleagues’ death, you should send a condolence letter to their family. There’s a template condolence letter DIS3 (DIS3A for colleagues who’ve left due to redundancy in the past 2 years – see former colleagues section below) to help you – but add in your own personal messages if you want.

Colleague funeral

We provide a free ‘Traditional Funeral’ for all colleagues who die while working for us. The condolence letter that you’ll send to the family will tell them about this and what they need to do to arrange this.

If the colleague’s family would like to use a Colleague funeral, please discuss this with them and your People Advisor about calling the families preferred Co-op Funeralcare home ahead of their visit to explain that their loved one was a colleague and they qualify for a free funeral.

Death in service payments

There are two different types of death in service payments – one for colleagues in the pension scheme and one for colleagues who weren’t – and there are different processes for each. There is/is not a minimum length of service criteria to qualify for these payments but the processes can take some time due to the legal requirements. If the colleagues family is facing hardship please discuss with your local People Advisor who can escalate this for you.

The Co-operative Pension Scheme (Pace) members

If the deceased colleague was an active member of the Pace Pension Scheme when they died, the death in service payment is made from the pension scheme.

Once you’ve told HR Services of the colleague’s death, they’ll tell the Pensions Department who’ll email you the Death in Service (Pace Pension Scheme member) form (DIS7). You’ll need to fill this in and then return it to the Pensions Department to the email address it was sent from. They’ll then contact the colleague’s family to sort out the rest of the process.

Once they’ve got all the information they need, the Trustees of the Pace Pension Scheme will decide who’ll get the death in service payment. The Pensions Department will let you know a decision has been made and organise payment. There’s nothing more you need to do - but you might just want to contact the family again to check that everything’s been received.

If you have any questions about a deceased colleague who was in a pension scheme, contact the Pensions Department on 0843 751 1700. You can also visit the website the pensions website for more information on the death in service benefit payable.

Non-pension scheme members

If the deceased colleague wasn’t in a Co-op pension scheme when they died, the death in service payment is the colleagues’ annual salary – or a minimum of £5,000.

HR Services will email you a copy of the Data Request/Indemnity Form for Non-Pensioned and Redundant colleagues (DIS6). You’ll need some information from the deceased colleagues’ family to complete these forms, so you should arrange to meet them – there’s more information about meeting the family below.

You should ask the family for an original copy of the Death Certificate, or the Interim Death Certificate if the cause of death hasn’t been determined yet. Just so you’re aware, no copies or other documents will be accepted. If the colleague has died abroad and the Death Certificate isn’t in English, you’ll need to ask the family for a new Death Certificate in English which they can get from the Coroner.

Please send the completed forms by email to and post the Death Certificate by recorded delivery to: HR Benefits Team, Department 10406, 7th floor, 1 Angel Square, Manchester, M60 0AG. The Death Certificate will be returned to the deceased colleague’s family by recorded delivery after the death in service payment has been made.

The payment will be sent by BACS transfer to the family and the HR Benefits Team will let you know when that’s happened. There’s nothing more you need to do - but you might just want to contact the family again to check that everything’s been received.

Accidental death (pension and non-pension scheme members)

If the colleagues’ death was the result of an accident, either inside or outside work, there may be an additional death in service payment. If you’re dealing with an accidental death, contact Insurance Services for more information on

If there’s going to be an inquest into the cause of the colleagues’ death, their family will get an Interim Death Certificate in the meantime. This means that we can still pay the death in service payment but we’ll have to put any accidental death payment on hold until the inquest is completed.

If the colleagues’ death is ruled as an accident we can then pay the additional amount. The colleagues’ family will need to tell you when the inquest has finished and send you the full Death Certificate. You’ll need to complete a new DIS6 or DIS7 form and follow the process as above.

Former colleagues

If a colleague dies within two years of being made redundant, they’ll be covered by a different scheme. If you’re told about the death of a former colleague, you should tell HR Services.

Meeting with the deceased colleagues’ family

If the colleague wasn’t in the Pace Pension Scheme there’ll be some information you need to complete the forms – so you might need to meet with their family.

For pension scheme members, you won’t have any paperwork to ask the family to complete as Pensions will request information directly. But it’s still good to meet the family to offer them your support and to check they’ve been contacted and understand the process.

Get in touch with the colleagues’ family to arrange a suitable date and time - remember to be sensitive to the timing of the colleague’s funeral. Once you’ve arranged the meeting, there’s a template letter (DIS8 on the intranet within the managers’ forms and letters page) you can use to confirm the arrangements.

If the colleague wasn’t in the pension scheme, you’ll need to ask their family to bring along an original copy of the Death Certificate.

When you meet the family, make sure you have a colleague go with you - ideally someone who worked closely with the colleague who’s died. If the situation’s particularly sensitive and you’d like HR support, speak to ER Services. If the relatives don’t speak English, you may also need to arrange for an interpreter to be present – see below.

During the meeting it might be helpful to ask the family if they’re able to give you any Co-op property you know the colleague had - like a laptop, mobile phone, access pass or keys. You should also ask if there is any other support they need.


If the colleague wasn’t in the pension scheme, you’ll have been sent two forms (DIS6A and DIS6B) which you need to complete with the colleagues’ family when you meet them, as follows:

  • If the colleague has died of non-accidental causes, complete one copy of each form and ask their next of kin to sign them.
  • If the colleague has died as a result of an accident, complete two copies of each form with identical information and ask their next of kin to sign both copies.
  • If the cause of death hasn’t been established and the case is going to inquest, complete one set of forms, ask their next of kin to sign them, and add a note to the form that the case is going to inquest.

It’s really important that the forms are completed accurately as the death in service payment can’t be made without them.

Bank account details

If the colleague wasn’t in the pension scheme, you’ll need to ask their family for the bank account details where they want the payment to go. These details should be recorded in form DIS6B which you should send to the HR Benefits Team so they can arrange the payment.


Sometimes you may need to get in touch with the family again to ask them for a copy of the deceased colleague’s Will, so we can check who the executor of their estate is – the HR Benefits Team will tell you if this is needed.  

Cars and IT equipment

If the colleague had a Co-op car, please call the Transport Department on 0844 600 9090 and they’ll arrange to collect it.

If the colleague had IT equipment, such as a laptop or mobile phone, that has been given back to you, call the IT Service Desk on 0330 606 1844 to arrange for this to be returned.

Completion of the process

Once the Pensions Department or the HR Benefits Team have confirmed that the death in service payment has been made, you should contact the colleague’s family again to check whether there’s anything else they need.

There’s a Manager Checklist on the Intranet (DIS9), which you may find useful as a reminder of all the things you need to do when dealing with the death of a colleague.

If managers need further advice about the death in service process they should contact HR Services.

If an interpreter is needed to attend a meeting with relatives who don’t speak English, you should contact ER Services for advice.

Supporting colleagues

It’s not unusual for people to experience shock, sadness and sometimes anger when told of a colleagues’ death. We need to provide support for these colleagues to help them in this difficult time.

Remember that many colleagues may want to attend the funeral to pay their respects – so talk to them about this and agree what can be accommodated.

Remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can provide colleagues with support. They can contact the EAP on 0800 069 8854. It’s independent and totally confidential. And there’s no charge for Co-op colleagues.

You may want to contact the EAP directly to let them know that a colleague has died and that they may get calls from a number of colleagues seeking support. You can also make a management referral to the EAP if the colleague doesn’t feel able to call them directly. You’ll just need to complete a referral document which the colleague must sign and then the EAP will call them.

In some circumstances it may be appropriate to provide the support of an experienced trauma counsellor. If you think this would be help, you should contact the EAP to arrange it.

Other sources of support

Cruse Bereavement Care: 0808 808 1677

Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland: 0845 600 2227

Bereavement Advice Centre: 0800 634 9494

Macmillan Cancer Support: 0808 808 0000