Hello, everyone. Firstly, Happy New Year. 2021, I'm sure has not gone off to the start that we all wanted. We are back in a national lockdown, number three, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccines are well and truly being rolled out. So fingers crossed everyone, life will come back into some sort of normality at some point this year.
So, as we're all following government guidelines, I am working from home. And thank you for joining Tina Talks at home. And we have today Clay Lowe joining us, and Clay is our fantastic cameraman. And you don't normally get to see Clay. But in the spirit of doing things a little bit differently. Clay is going to ask me the questions that you have kindly put forward via firstname.lastname@example.org. So welcome Clay to Tina Talks today and Happy New Year. When you're ready, fire those questions away.
Awesome. Tina, it's weird being on this side of the camera. Hi. So being on, on Tina Talks, I feel special now. Alright, so there are three questions that have come in. And so we'll take the first question.
So the first question is we had to make an employee redundant due to the pandemic. They're now taking us to an employment tribunal. What evidence do we need to gather to prepare?
Okay, so, unfortunately, redundancies are widespread, and redundancies have been occurring now since March when we first entered into lockdown. And it's really important that employers follow a fair procedure. I have previously discussed this in my previous Tina Talks. And there will be situations when an employee will feel that their dismissal is unfair. And that employee is likely to present a claim in the employment tribunal having first of all complied with ACAS early conciliation. Now, what I've seen is that there are a number of cases that are being filed at tribunal when actually the employer has followed a fair process; but unfortunately, the employee has taken the decision very personal or strongly feels that their dismissal is unfair. An employer is required to defend the claim, it's really important employers that you do defend the claim, and you don't ignore employee employment tribunal correspondence, because you run the risk of an employee winning their tribunal claim by default. So in terms of evidence, that should be fairly straightforward for you to produce if you have followed a fair process. And so you will have undertaking meaningful consultation and that those consultation meetings that you've engaged with the employee, you will have minutes of those consultation meetings. So it's really important that you retain a copy of those minutes, as they will form part of the evidence. In addition, your initial risk letter, and your letters inviting the employee to a consultation meeting. And the outcome of those consultation and meeting letters will all be relevant in terms of evidence. If the employee has appealed their redundancy and followed the correct process in dealing with the appeal, all that correspondence is relevant evidence team. And in all redundancy situations, an employer is required to demonstrate a legitimate business reason. And that might mean that you will be required to demonstrate to a tribunal why you were in the situation that you find yourself in, in the sense that you made redundancies. So it's not okay to just rely on the pandemic. Think about what tangible evidence you have that confirms that you were forced into that situation.
So question number two, my employer will not let me go into the office, but my mental health is suffering by working from home all the time. Is there anything I can do?
This is a global problem, in my view, and I'm sure you've all seen plenty of literature and posts about mental health, declining or suffering as a result of the pandemic. The current situation is that we are in a national lockdown, so we're one step above the tier four system that we were previously in, or some of us were in. And we're not too dissimilar from the situation that we were in, in March. So, unfortunately, as it stands, and you are required to work from home unless you can't work from home, so there will be some roles where it's simply not possible to undertake work from home. And there will be some businesses who will have to close as a result of the national lockdown. And there are some employees that are currently on furlough, in consequence of the national lockdown. But in terms of going into the office, due to deteriorating mental health, and there are a few things that I would suggest you do immediately. And the first thing I must stress is that you reach out, you speak to your line manager, you speak to another manager, if you're not comfortable, or you approach HR, going into the office might not be an option. But that is not the end of the road, in the sense of improving your mental health, there are various options available that an employer can advance to you and talk through talk you through. So please don't feel that as a result of not being able to go into the office, that you are completely isolated. And there is no help out there. Because I absolutely promise you can get some help.
All right, awesome. And the final question, question number three, do we need to supply all equipment for employees to work from home. It would be considerable cost to our business. So can we advise employees to use their own laptops, etc?
Okay, so the simple answer is an employer has no legal obligation to provide you with the equipment that you need to work from home. So I know that lots of employers have relied upon employees utilising their own laptops, and phones to undertake their work effectively from home. Some employers have been able to provide equipment to employees to enable them to work from home. And I guess the point I'm trying to say is you don't have a right to command equipment from your employer. But an employer needs to know if you don't have the relevant equipment that you need to work from home. And I would be surprised if an employer doesn't try and help you out in that situation. And again, this comes down to talking to your line manager or talking to HR and figuring it out. Because if you can undertake your work from home or be you don't have the equipment, I'm pretty certain there has to be a solution to that.
Okay, that was our final question for this Tina Talks.
Okay. Well, Clay, I have to say thank you so much for joining Tina Talks. And I'm not sure we're going to be back in the office. What do you think Clay for the next February edition of our Tina Talks?
I'm not so sure it's not looking good for the home team right now.
No. So that means everyone that Clay will be joining us again in February. Please keep your questions come in. try and try and try to stay positive. We are going to get out of lockdown. Stay safe, everyone.
In the meantime, if you have any employment law questions, please contact one of my team.