A DORSET legal firm is urging employers to ensure they are up to speed with a shake-up of workplace laws that have come into force from this month.

Battens Solicitors, who have offices in Weymouth and Dorchester, is highlighting changes to the employment tribunal process and the introduction of penalties of up to £5,000 for bosses who lose unfair dismissal claims. Dawn Gallie, pictured left, head of employment at Battens Solicitors, said the new employers’ penalty is in addition to legal costs and any compensation award payable to the successful claimant. She said: “This could be hugely detrimental, especially to smaller businesses, and may result in the settlement of claims just to avoid this risk.”

Under a separate procedural step, employees are now mandated to involve ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, before they submit a claim to the employment tribunal for unfair dismissal or discrimination.

An ACAS conciliation officer will then liaise between the employee and the employer to see if a resolution can be achieved and a tribunal claim avoided.