Construction firms are set to be hit by an increase in employment litigation in 2007 because of changes in the law including the smoking ban, age discrimination legislation and the introduction of the CIS tax scheme.

The smoking ban comes into force in Wales on 2 April, in Northern Ireland on 30 April and in England on 2 July. There will be a total ban on lighting up in the workplace, including sites and work vans.

Edward Goodwyn, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, has warned that the ban will set non-smoking staff and non-conforming colleagues at loggerheads, contributing to a rise in tribunal cases over the coming year.

The workforce has a big stick with which to beat the employer

Edward Goodwyn, Pinsent Masons

He also warned that the rise in tribunals would be exacerbated by the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations, which were introduced in October, and the revamped CIS tax scheme, which will be launched in April.

Goodwyn said: “I think next year will be very difficult. Now you have got many other laws, lots of areas to bring claims, many of which don’t have statutory caps. The workforce has a big stick with which to beat the employer.”