Almost two-thirds of employers think that the paternity leave provisions of the Work and Families Act will cause them difficulties, according to a CIPD/KPMG survey.
The legislation will, from April 2007, extend maternity and adoption pay from six to nine months and allow fathers up to 26 weeks' additional paternity leave. It will also extend the right to request flexible working to carers of adults.
Smaller employers are more likely than larger employers to cite potential difficulties extending paternity leave and are less likely to see potential benefits.
Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: "Most good employers recognise the importance of work-life balance and, as the survey shows, many already offer more than is provided for in the Work and Families Act.
"However, it is clear from the survey that there is scepticism about some of the provisions of the Act, especially those relating to paternity leave.
"The government needs to reassure employers about the administration of the new provisions."
In response, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Employers have nothing to fear from these modest proposals and much to gain. Any move that enables working fathers to play a greater role in that first important year of their children's lives should be welcomed. As a result they are likely to return to work with a much greater sense of work-life balance and a renewed commitment to their jobs."
Only 4% of employers think that the new right for carers to request flexible working will cause them significant difficulties.