A BODY representing small and medium-sized firms said it opposes plans to bring in a mandatory pension scheme.
Almost one million workers have no pension plan in place, but the Small Firms Association argued that it would be too expensive to provide a universal scheme.
The group said that forcing those with no pension arrangements to pay for their own retirements will put too much of a burden on both employees and businesses.
The Department of Social Protection has set up a group to look at issues around setting up some sort of system for those with no occupational scheme. In a submission to the department, the SFA said it was fundamentally opposed to any more towards a mandatory, universal retirement system.
SFA director Patricia Callan said too many smaller firms were struggling to keep their doors open. Such a scheme would add to the costs of employing people.
"The introduction of a universal retirement savings system will increase unit labour costs, putting many jobs and businesses at risk," Ms Callan said.
"It will negatively impact national competitiveness and jeopardise foreign direct investment," she added.
"The Government's focus is all wrong. There are many aspects of the pension system that require urgent attention, such as the inequity of treatment between public sector workers and those in the private sector, especially owner-managers," Ms Callan said.
But Ciaran Phelan of the Irish Brokers Association said there was no alternative to a mandatory scheme, given the pending pensions crisis and the fact that the State will be unable to meet its pension liabilities as our population ages and the numbers working to those retired reduces.
"There will be pain all-round but this absolutely needs to happen," he said.