Abbey Legal Protection has launched a scathing attack on the Government, claiming its new legislation for part-time workers could result in mass redundancies.

The legal expenses insurer made the comments in the light of the government's Part Times Workers Regulations that come into force on July 1.

Manager of Abbey's Legal Services Centre, Dr Murray Fairclough, said: "The regulations offer little or no financial benefit to many small businesses and will thereby prove counterproductive by acting as a disincentive to recruit part-time staff."

Abbey acts as legal advice provider to the Federation of Small Businesses. The insurer said the federation's member firms have expressed "extreme disbelief" at the new rules.

Included in the legislation are rules that part-timers must have the same rates of pay, training, pensions, sick pay, holiday leave and overtime pay, as full-timers.

Abbey also warned that many small firms could leave themselves open to legal action if they fail to implement the new rules.

Business development manager Leo Gibbons said: "The new regulations only serve to increase the pressure on small businesses.

"We are emphasising the importance of taking qualified legal advice to avoid companies discriminating against part-time workers.