New proposals to extend the amount of paid leave available to workers in Northern Ireland will hit small businesses the hardest, a small businesses organisation has claimed.
The proposals outlined for consultation by the minister for employment and learning, Maria Eagle, would see paid leave for Northern Irish workers extended by either eight or ten days, bringing it in line with the rest of the UK.
However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has expressed its concern about the impact the legislation could have on the 65,000 small businesses in the country.
"The government forget that 89 per cent of all local businesses employ less than ten staff and providing further extra paid leave to employees will cause considerable disruption to them," said FSB policy chairman, Wilfred Mitchell.
Small businesses were being prevented by recruiting extra staff due to a mixture of "government red tape, bureaucracy and excessive employment legislation", he added.
However, Ms Eagle stated that the new measures were essential to give employees a greater work life balance, pointing out that many low-paid workers still had to take bank and public holidays out of their annual leave entitlement.