My employer is dead

What happens if your employer dies

On your employer’s death your contract of employment will automatically come to an end. Under Section 136(5)(b) and Section 174 of the Employment Rights Act 1996,  termination of an employment contract by death of the employer counts is a redundancy dismissal. You can claim Statutory Redundancy Pay unless the Personal Representative of your deceased employer offers to renew your employment contract or re-employ you within eight weeks of the death (section 174(2)(b) Employment Rights Act 1996).


Personal representatives and administrators

The person who administers your employer’s estate is called a personal representative. Your employer’s estate is basically the total of all their assets, less all their liabilities. Any claim you have will be made to your employer’s personal representative.

If your employer made a will that names the personal representative, the personal representative will be known as the executor. If the personal representative is a woman, they may be called the executrix. If your employer did not have a will, or does not name an executor, or the executor is unable or unwilling to act the Administration of Estates Act 1925 sets out who can apply to the court be the personal representative.  The personal representative appointed by the court is called the administrator. The role of an executor or administrator is basically the same. They are both personal representatives and you can make a claim to either of them.



Employment Rights Act 1996, S136 (5)

S136  Circumstances in which an employee is dismissed

(5) Where in accordance with any enactment or rule of law—

(a) an act on the part of an employer, or

(b) an event affecting an employer (including, in the case of an individual, his death),

operates to terminate a contract under which an employee is employed by him, the act or event shall be taken for the purposes of this Part to be a termination of the contract by the employer.




Employment Rights Act 1996, S139 (4)

S139 Redundancy

(4) Where—

(a) the contract under which a person is employed is treated by section 136(5) as terminated by his employer by reason of an act or event, and

(b) the employee’s contract is not renewed and he is not re-engaged under a new contract of employment,

he shall be taken for the purposes of this Act to be dismissed by reason of redundancy if the circumstances in which his contract is not renewed, and he is not re-engaged, are wholly or mainly attributable to either of the facts stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1).


Lay-off and short-time

Section 175 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 deals with the situation where your employer dies whilst you are laid-off or on short-time.


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This resource is published by Employee Rescue Limited. Please note that the information and any commentary on the law contained herein is provided free of charge for information purposes only. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. Employee Rescue accepts no responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this update. Further specialist advice should be taken before relying on the contents of this summary. No part of this summary may be used, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the prior permission of Employee Rescue Ltd.

Case Study

Westlake v ZSL London Zoo (2015) An employment tribunal ruled that a London Zoo meerkat handler who got into a Christmas party fight with a monkey specialist over their love rivalry for a llama keeper was unfairly dismissed, however she received nothing in compensation.  The employment tribunal said that two zookeepers who got into a fight at London Zoo’s Christmas party should have received the same disciplinary sanction. At London Zoo’s Christmas party, zookeeper Ms Westlake got into a fight with a colleague, Ms Sanders. The fight appeared to originate over another zookeeper Mr Davies, Sanders’ former boyfriend who was... Read More
Westlake v ZSL London Zoo (2015) An employment tribunal ruled that a London Zoo meerkat handler who got into a…Meerkats v Monkeys
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