• Company directors are leaving themselves open to prosecution and imprisonment by ignoring guidelines on the health and safety of their employees, an employment law specialist has warned.

    Tony Hall, managing director of West Yorkshire-based Legal Personnel and Management Services (LPMS), said: "Too many companies put the lives and careers of their employees at risk when simpleand cost-effective solutions are readily available, provided by highly qualified consultants."

    LPMS has revealed that fatalities among Britain's workers rose by 34% in 2000 to 2001, up from 75 to 295.

    The sector with the most deaths was construction, where 106 people died (up from 81).

  • Unfair dismissal and discrimination cases against employers will rapidly increase as employees realise they can legally access all emails written about them.

    Lewis Silkin partner James Davies, who specialises in employment law, issued the warning after a high-profile case involving legal firm Charles Russell.

    A secretary sued the firm for sexual and racial discrimination after a solicitor at the firm sent an email to a partner asking for her to be replaced by a "fit busty blonde".

    The secretary was paid up to £10,000 compensation in an out-of-court settlement.

    Davies said employers had to learn the serious nature of the comments made in emails.

    "It amazes me how often people say things they shouldn't. Employers should ensure their employees know that as well."

  • Payouts to victims of discrimination in the workplace have reached a record £3.35m, research by the Equal Opportunities Review (EOR) has showed.

    The sum awarded by employment tribunals increased by £980,000, or 38%, in 2000, compared with the previous year.

    The EOR research also showed a rise in payouts for disability cases, but a slight fall in sex discrimination cases.

    There were 316 discrimination cases where compensation was awarded in 2000: 186 of sex discrimination, 75 of race,

    4 of disability, five of race and sex discrimination and two of disability and race discrimination.

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