New employment laws including changes to paternity leave will be damaging to British businesses, a new report has warned.

A survey of 1,300 firms by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) showed that over half believed giving extra paternity leave to fathers would be detrimental.

One in five said abolishing the default retirement age, which is being phased out from this week, would also harm their business, saying they will lose the ability to manage their workforce after they turn 65.

David Frost, director general of the BCC, said: “In the face of promises by the Government to listen to the needs of business and cut red tape, these two new pieces of employment regulation will hit businesses hard.

“The Budget revealed a policy to exempt start-ups and existing firms with fewer than 10 employees from new domestic regulation, but this week’s changes show there is an urgent need to review and scale back policies already on the statute books.

“The Government must go a step further and show all businesses that it is serious about deregulation. Arguably, any exemptions should include a wider scope of firms, not just micros.

“Our survey results show that employment law changes are causing great concern among employers, who, instead of concentrating on running their business, have to cope with more and more shifts in employment law. Every change, no matter how small, costs employers time and money.

“Unless practical steps are taken to help free businesses from red tape, the burden on employers will only increase, and barriers to job creation and economic growth will remain.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The extension of family-friendly working over the last decade has helped to drive record employment rates for working families, which businesses have hugely benefited from.

“Good employers should have nothing to fear from these employment changes, which have been consulted on extensively over the last few years.”