July 2020: This chapter was amended throughout as a result of updated Government guidance.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Contacting the Family
- 3. Informing Colleagues
- 4. Reporting Processes
- 5. Queries
Unfortunately, some workers in the adult social care sector have lost their lives as a result of contracting COVID-19. In such an event, the Department of Health and Social Care is asking employers to tell it about the deaths of all types of workers in the adult social care sector, regardless of role or employer, and including volunteers.
Employers include (but is not limited to):
- privately run care providers;
- local authorities;
2. Contacting the Family
In the first instance, employers should:
- contact the person’s family or next of kin to offer condolences, while respecting that they may wish to grieve privately;
- confirm with the family if the news can be shared with others at work;
- answer any questions the person’s family may have about pay, contracts, pensions or other arrangements, ensuring that all procedures are followed;
- put the family in touch with a senior manager or equivalent who can answer questions about returning any personal belongings.
If the family is eligible to apply, the employer should certify and support their application for a £60,000 lump sum payment from the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme 2020. The scheme does not cost staff or employers.
If appropriate, the employer should share information about the Coronavirus Bereavement Scheme with the family. The scheme offers indefinite leave to remain, free of charge, to non-European Economic Area (EEA) family members and dependants of anyone working in health or social care who dies as a result of contracting coronavirus.
If the family of a staff member feels that they are in this position, they can contact the UK Visas and Immigration NHS team directly at email@example.com.
3. Informing Colleagues
- sensitively tell the person’s colleagues that they have died;
- signpost staff to any support that’s available to them and talk to staff regularly to see how they’re coping (see Bereavement Resources for the Social Care Workforce, Department of Health and Social Care);
- let staff know how they can give their condolences (if the person’s family are happy for them to do so);
- share details of any memorial, if staff have been invited.
4. Reporting Processes
4.1 Agency staff and volunteers
The agency should report the worker’s death unless it is agreed by both parties that it is more appropriate for the care provider, where they worked most recently, to do so.
The deaths of volunteers working in adult social care should also be reported in this way.
4.2 Health and Safety Executive
A coronavirus work-related death should be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) if it meets the criteria under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013).
There must be reasonable evidence that the death was caused by occupational exposure to coronavirus. The responsible person should notify HSE by the quickest practicable means and without delay and send a report within 10 days of the death. Failure to make a RIDDOR report is a criminal offence.
HSE will look further at the circumstances and may decide to investigate. HSE’s investigatory work aims to identify any actions an employer needs to take to prevent a recurrence, for sharing broader lessons. It could lead to enforcement action in specific cases, if there are breaches of health and safety at work law.
4.2.1 More information
4.3 Inform Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)
There is no legal duty on employers to submit this information to DHSC. However, it will help to ensure the steps listed below are taken following the person’s death.
Employers should tell the family, friends or colleagues of the person who has died that they are submitting this information.
Following initial notification, DHSC may ask for some additional information in order to:
- provide support to the family and employer of the person who has died;
- allow the Prime Minister and / or Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to send a letter of condolence to the next of kin of the person who has died (depending on the family’s wishes);
- enable medical examiners to scrutinise the deaths of social care workers from COVID-19;
- help the government with the ongoing research into the coronavirus disease.
This process should be followed where deaths have already occurred and if there are any further deaths.
As much information as possible should be provided. The following details about the person who has died should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. This includes:
- their name;
- their job role;
- their employer;
- the local authority/ies in which they worked;
- the date of their death;
- whether it was confirmed or suspected that they had COVID-19.
4.4 The Coroner
The local coroner does not need to be notified of a death from natural causes. Coroners will investigate deaths that are unnatural, violent or where the cause is unknown.
If there is concern that the death should be investigated by the coroner and the death has not already been reported to the coroner by the person’s doctor, family or any other person, the manager reporting the person’s death should inform the local coroner’s office (contact information is available on the local authority website).
Any queries about informing DHSC of a worker’s death should be emailed to email@example.com.