More companies need to address new employment legislation or face potentially damaging claims, according to a specialist.

Philip Bury, employment expert at Staffordshire law firm Ansons, said: "A large proportion of my workload is advising individuals who are bringing claims against employers."

Mr Bury says one of the biggest areas for concern is a large percentage of companies not following regulations on disciplinary and grievance procedures although the law changed two years ago.

He said: "This particular legislation is extremely important because simply by not following procedures a company is laying itself open to higher tribunal awards.

"Companies should review employment policies and ascertain whether they could be vulnerable. If so, they should take steps to put new procedures in place to ensure they are compliant with current and proposed legislation."

On October 1, new regulations will come into force to protect individuals from age discrimination, which will help ensure that people are no longer denied jobs or harassed because of their age. All employers will have to incorporate the changes into their employment policies, including addressing the issue of retirement age.

Mr Bury continues: "If an employer's normal retirement age is below 65, it must be objectively justified and, if they try to force a member of staff to retire below the normal retirement age, it must have a fair reason for doing so and follow the correct dismissal procedures or the individual could bring a case for unfair dismissal against the company.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg - there is no doubt more employment legislation to come, including proposed changes to maternity and paternity rights.

"It is a fact of life that employee rights are increasing but the regulations must be followed. A large claim against a small business could threaten it's future, which would have a knock-on effect for other employees."