Tennessee Death of Employee: What you need to know

An employee may designate a beneficiary to receive payment for any wages or salary due at the time of the employee's death. The law encourages employers to inform employees of this right when employees are hired. If there is no such designation by an employee, employers are authorized by law to pay a deceased employee's wages of not more than $10,000 directly to the surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, to the deceased employee's children. Wages of $10,000 or more must be paid to an executor or administrator or as otherwise ordered by the court of probate (TN Stat. Sec. 30-2-103). Employers that are unsure of their legal responsibilities should contact the local court of probate for instructions.
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Following the death of an employee, managers have responsibilities to the company and to the deceased employee's coworkers. While the business must continue to function, managers must be sensitive to the pain of loss felt by employees. The following tips may be helpful in dealing with the death of an employee:
• Allow employees sufficient time to attend funeral services, without pressure or guilt.
• Expect some employees to have difficulty with concentration, and to express confusion and anger.
• Have some flexibility when distributing work assignments to allow for emotions that may interfere with productivity.
• Respect the grieving person's wishes and listen compassionately.
• Consider having a grief counselor available for employees and offer employee assistance program services.

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