DESPITE a whole raft of new measures designed to protect workers from unscrupulous employers, many firms are still trying to get away with as much as possible says local employment law specialist, Nicholas Frimond.

Mr Frimond, who has had a number of spectacular successes on behalf of sacked and discriminated-against employees, told the Star: "I don't like seeing employment rights being flouted. Ignorance is not sufficient justification. If you are an employer you have a responsibility to act reasonably towards your employees and that is also good for the company."

Part-time workers being given the same rights as full-time employees; flexible hours and women being able to return to work part-time after maternity leave are among the more recent changes.

Mr Frimond says that in the main the bigger firms are aware of the law but bosses of smaller ones often claim to be too busy to read the advice they are given by the Government.

"They seem to think they can get their law from reading newspapers, while the details circulated by the Department of Trade and Industry are often ignored or not read," he says.

When firms get problems they often fail to consult the workforce before starting to lay people off.

Another major problem is caused by people suffering from depression due to either overwork or bullying at work. This, he feels, is again something that employers should address before it gets to the stage of legal action and tribunals.

"The ‘them and us' attitude that still exists here is unique in Europe," he says. "In Continental Europe they often have works councils that include representatives of the employees and that often takes the heat out of the situation." Mr. Frimond is on 01252 727778.