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My employer is dead

What happens if your employer dies

The death of an employer is only relevant if you work for a personal employer, not if you work for a corporate employer.

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 as 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, then the Administration of Estates Act 1925 sets out who can apply to the court to 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, 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.

Updated: 01/03/2020


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