Sweeping changes Legislation contained in the new act will come into effect from 2003 and will make big changes to existing employment law that could affect your small business.

Dispute resolution The legislation will require employers to implement statutory dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures, which, for the first time, will have to be part of every employee's contract.

Beware penalties The regulations give tribunals additional powers to penalise either employer or employee if they have not followed the contractual agreement on procedure.

Parental rights The act has also changed maternity and paternity rights. Maternity leave will increase from 40 weeks to 52, and new fathers will get two weeks worth of paid leave.

Temps have rights, too Part of the legislation that was introduced in October means that fixed-term workers now have the same pay and pension rights as permanent workers.