Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are concerned over government plans to extend parental leave.

This is according to new research commissioned by Citrix Online which suggests that 58 per cent of such organisations believe that an extension of maternity leave would negatively impact on their business.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent reported that increasing paternity leave would have negative commercial implications.

However, it was also revealed that SMEs are supportive of flexible working arrangements, with 74 per cent of those questioned stating that they have introduced flexible practices for their staff.

"Working parents worry about the effect that having children will have on their career aspirations, so it is promising to see that businesses are recognising the benefits of flexible working and introducing options that will really help employees," stated Denise Tyler, founder of Mother@Work.

Recently, the Trades Union Congress criticised employers who see pregnant employees as an "inconvenience" after research suggested that more than half of managers assess someone’s chances of falling pregnant before employing them.