The Small Firms Association has said it is against the idea of introducing mandatory pension provision for all workers. 

Less than half of all workers here are members of a pension scheme. The rest will be solely reliant on the State pension, which will put a considerable further burden on the Exchequer in coming years.

The Government has set up a working group to advise on recommendations on the issue. The Universal Retirement Savings Group is due to report by the end of the year.

In its submission to the Universal Retirement Savings Group, the SFA says mandatory pension provision will prove costly to employees, to business and the state, without any associated benefits in the long term.

SFA Director Patricia Callan said that despite the improving economy, many small business are still struggling to keep afloat and therefore it is unacceptable to impose an increase in the cost of employment.

Ms Callan said that any direct contribution obligations on employers will simply add to the already high cost base, where labour costs are running at 121% of the EU average.

"The introduction of a Universal Retirement Savings System will increase unit labour costs in Ireland, putting many jobs and businesses at risk. It will negatively impact national competitiveness and jeopardise foreign direct investment into Ireland," she stated.