Midlands businesses have been warned to brace themselves for a raft of new laws.

No fewer than 13 pieces of legislation come into operation tomorrow, all of which will impact heavily on industry.

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce says businesses should be prepared for the influx, which includes an increase in statutory sick- pay rates, the Employment Relations Act 2004 and Work at Height regulations.

Annette Fitzgerald, head of policy at the Chamber, said: "It seems to be unlucky 13 for businesses - no matter what sort of company or organisation you run, it is likely you will be affected by, at least, one of these new laws.

"Businesses cannot afford to be caught out by the regulations. Not all of them are bad news - for example the new tax breaks for employer-supported child care, which should help employers hang on to skilled workers who have become parents.

"However, it is obviously disappointing that we are looking at an increase in regulation and red tape that again will impact on SMEs."

Under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations, workers in organisations with 150 or more people will have the right to be informed and consulted with on major decisions which may affect employment.

Organisations with 100 or more employees will come within the scope of the legislation in 2007 and ones with 50 or more employees in April 2008.

However, a minimum of ten per cent of employees would have to petition for the changes meaning many small and medium sized businesses may not be affected.

Linked with this, the Employment Relations Act, sees the extension of the period of time employees are protected from unfair dismissal during a lawful industrial action to 12 weeks.

Also, intimidation by unions or employers during statutory union recognition ballots will be made illegal for the first time.

Damian Kelly, employment partner at Eversheds in Birmingham, said: "The new measures in the Employment Relations Act should not be swept under the carpet by businesses. For example, employers need to be aware that even a slight attempt to influence a ballot will be breaching the new laws."

Commenting on the Information and Consultation Regulations, he added: "Employers must not underestimate the importance of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations.

"Without doubt, many large organisations will already have sophisticated consultation procedures in place which are supported by the workforce. However, these companies should not fall into the trap of believing that the new regulations will therefore have no effect."