New research has indicated that UK firms could be hit with a growing number of employment tribunals over the next few months, as more companies freeze pay and increase working hours.

According to a survey from law firm Speechly Bircham and King's College London, more than half of businesses questioned had observed a rise in office hours and bosses have been warned this trend could trigger an increase in stress and absences.

"The combination of increased workplace conflict, longer hours and rising stress levels is a potent cocktail which could lead to a significant rise in tribunals and industrial action," said Speechly Bircham partner and head of employment Richard Martin.

In addition, 42 per cent of participants claimed to have experienced difficulties in hiring since the government's introduction of a non-EU immigration cap, while one-third were struggling with a shortage of key workers.

Last month, the government unveiled its Employer's Charter, aimed at redressing the balance between employees and employers in workplace disputes.

Posted by Ross George