Purpose | Psycho-social support | Reporting the death | Death-in-service benefits | Access authorisations |
Access to records and property of the deceased staff member


In the event of a death in service of a staff member there are certain actions which must take place. These guidelines attempt to clarify the process to be followed for line managers.

These guidelines cover the following areas:

  • Psycho-social support for UCT colleagues and family
  • Reporting the death
  • Death-in-service benefits
  • Payments on death
  • Access authorisations
  • Access to records and property of the deceased staff member

Policy details

Psycho-social support

In the event of the death of a staff member the Organisational Health section of the Human Resources Department offer psycho-social support in the form of either individual or group counselling sessions for staff in the department concerned. Line managers should encourage their staff to utilise this support.

Contact: Blanche Claasen-Hoskins can be contacted for further information.

Reporting the death

The Human Resources Department must be notified immediately with regard to the date, and time of death of a staff member.

The HR145 form must be completed by the line manager and submitted to HR. The following events will be actioned once this form is processed.

  • Immediate payment of an ex gratia gratuity to the dependent(s) of the deceased staff member by UCT (see below)
  • A letter of condolence is prepared by HR from the Vice Chancellor to the next of kin.
  • Death in service benefits and payments
  • Communication to ICTS on access authorisations

Contact: Rowina Nefdt can be contacted for further information.

Death-in-service benefits

Ex gratia gratuity

The University pays the dependant(s) of a deceased member of staff one twelfth of the annual cost of employment to assist with immediate expenses (this is a gift and is not recoverable). This gratuity is only paid if the staff member dies before the retirement age specified in their employment contract.

Contact: Rowina Nefdt can be contacted for further information.

UCT Retirement Fund (UCTRF)

For permanent and T2 staff on the UCTRF the benefit paid from the UCTRF to their dependants is the total of: -

  1. between one and five times their at the date of death, depending on the amount of death cover elected by the member in terms of the UCTRF rules; plus
  2. the balance in their Accumulated Retirement Savings in the UCTRF;

The UCTRF Board must allocate benefits (1) and (2) in terms of the Pension Funds Act, taking into account those persons that are legally and/or financially dependent on the deceased and the member's nomination form.

The dependants of the deceased can choose how much of the death benefit must be paid to them as pension and/or a lump sum. Once they have received the benefit, the dependants have no further claim against the UCTRF.

In addition to 1 and 2 above the member's beneficiaries will receive:

  1. between one and five times the member's cost of employment at the date of death, depending on the amount of death cover elected by the member, that will be paid from a separate Group Life Assurance scheme (reduced by any disability lump sum benefit already received from this arrangement) which will be paid to the person/s nominated by the member; plus 
  2. a funeral benefit of : 
  • ​​​​​​​R30 000 (unless the member opted out of this benefit) which will be paid to the person nominated by the member or
  • R60 000 if the member elected higher funeral cover
    which will be paid to the person nominated by the member.

Contact: Rowina Nefdt for further information.

Medical aid subsidy

Applicable to permanent staff appointed before 1 January 2018. On the death of a permanent member of staff on the UCT medical aid scheme the spouse/partner and/or child dependants may continue their membership of the medical aid scheme. The University subsidises the membership for spouse/partner and/or child dependants at the date of death.

See: Medical aid subsidy

Contact: Debra De Gouveia-Meyer can be contacted for further information.

Staff tuition fees

Dependants of deceased staff members pay staff tuition fee rates in accordance with the staff tuition fee rate policy. The amount paid is linked to the conditions of service prior to death in respect of the staff member.

Contact: The Faculty / Department HR Practitioner may be contacted for further information.

Group life assurance scheme

The spouse of a deceased staff member may continue membership of the Group life assurance scheme directly with the Provider.

Contact: Rowina Nefdt for further information.

Payments on death

  • Payment of the pro-rata salary to the estate is made at the end of the month in which a member dies. The salary is calculated and paid until the date of death.
  • Payment of any leave due to the member and a pro-rata bonus is also paid to the estate as soon as the estate bank details are available.

Liabilities due to the University by the deceased staff member will be offset against these payments. If the liability is greater than the total of the pro rata salary and leave payments the payment of such debt will be pursued with the Estate.

The next of kin need to provide the following:

  • Certified copies of the death certificates (x3)
  • Certified copies of the identity document of deceased staff member (x3)
  • Certified copies of identity document of spouse
  • Certified copies of identity documents or birth certificates of dependants

Contact: Rowina Nefdt can be contacted for further information.

Access authorisations

Access to the following will be cancelled once the termination form has been captured:

  • UCT network;
  • UCT supported information systems such as SAP, PeopleSoft;
  • UCT supported email;
  • UCT buildings;
  • UCT library;
  • Parking disc (where the information is fed through to the Traffic Office for cancellation of the parking disc).

Access to records and property of the deceased staff member

Policy and Rules on privacy and access to electronic records

On the death of a staff member access to the electronic records held by UCT is governed by the following clause in the Policy and Rules on Internet and Email use:

"UCT reserves the right to interrogate electronic records held by UCT, but this right will not be exercised without the written permission of the Vice-Chancellor following due process involving consultation by the Vice-Chancellor, or the Vice-Chancellor's nominee, with at least two of the six non-decanal non-executive senior professors (i.e. the six professors who have held professorial rank for the longest not including Executive Officers or Deans) for good cause shown, or without a court order or summons, or in compliance with a request for a copy of a record made under the Promotion of Access to Information Act."

This policy can be found on the ICTS website www.icts.uct.ac.za under "About > Policies and guidelines".

Access to electronic and hard copy records (business, research related, and personal) by the University, colleagues and family members

UCT's policy on electronic records recognises the individual's constitutional right to privacy. This is the first point of departure for addressing this question of access (and it does not follow, necessarily, that a deceased staff member's spouse has a right to access to these records). The second is UCT's right - notwithstanding the fact of the individual academic's ownership of the Intellectual Property - to a royalty-free perpetual licence to use and adapt his teaching material, on a not-for-gain basis, within UCT.


The Vice Chancellor (VC) must approve access to the records and the manner in which such access is given. The group who access such records must include a nominee of the Head of Department and a nominee of the VC and may include a family member, friend or colleague of the deceased. This group, approved by the VC, will manage records in the manner laid out below.

  1. this group will hand over to the Head of Department (or his/her nominee) copies of material relevant to the business (this includes teaching notes and records);
  2. this group will hand over to the appropriate research collaborator(s) copies of all research material after securing their commitment to respect the staff member's Intellectual Property (IP);
  3. this group will allow, where requested, a family member access to, and where they wish, copies of all material held on the staff member's computer; and
  4. this group will provide the HOD with a copy of all departmental records especially material relating to his/her activities as a line manager, Head of Department or Executive Officer.

Intellectual Property (IP) of such records

Any Intellectual Property belongs to the deceased staff member's estate, and must be handed over to the executor. The executor should seek advice from the Head of Department and others about how to have any such material published. Alternatively, the staff member may have contracted with publishers and the future of such contracts will need to be dealt with by his/her estate.

The same principles apply to hard copies and files. The estate owns anything to which the deceased staff member could claim IP ownership. This includes lecture notes but the department has a right to copies of these (to copy, adapt and use as above). The general administrative files are departmental property.

Material property

All property purchased with UCT funds (departmental or research funds) belongs to UCT. Property purchased by the staff member with his/her own after-tax earnings belongs to the staff member's estate.

Research and other funds in the name of the deceased staff member

This needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, along the following lines.

First, the conditions of the award of research or other funding may require any balance to be returned to source.

Secondly, where this is not the case, commitments to students etc must be met, and the fate of the balance is to be decided by the University Research Committee (URC), or by delegation, by the Dean, in consultation with collaborators and the Head of Department. For example in a group, the decision rights on a fund might simply devolve to the person who takes over leadership of the group. The key is that these funds are UCT funds, subject to such constraints as the source-funder may have imposed. Where all else fails, and all commitments have been met, decision-rights revert to the URC.

Access to incoming mail

The Head of Department may open incoming mail (email and hard copy mail) addressed to the deceased staff member related to his/her work. Personal mail, if requested, should be forwarded to a family member or friend with the request to return it if it involves work related issues.

Page last updated: 3 November 2022