The Illawarra Business Chamber released the results of a new survey on Thursday showing how Illawarra businesses are being buried under a mountain of red tape.
The latest NSW Business Chamber Red Tape Survey shows federal, state and local regulations cost NSW businesses $8.4 billion and 220 million hours in compliance every year.
Illawarra chamber chief executive Debra Murphy said the research showed 51 per cent of businesses felt they were over regulated.
Ms Murphy said that was a major issue for business and an unnecessary hurdle to employing more staff.
She said the most time consuming and costly compliance tasks identified were understanding and implementing rules, keeping records and filling in forms.
The most complex regulators identified were local councils, and those that regulate planning and employment.
And the most common concern was that rules were overly complex and poorly explained.
Ms Murphy said the federal government's commitment to red tape repeal days and a $1 billion yearly target of cutting red tape were positive steps but the devil was in the detail.
"It all depends on the actual regulations that are eliminated," she said.
"Given businesses are reporting high levels of red tape at each of the three levels of government, we need a concerted effort at local, state and federal levels to reduce the collective red tape burden. Red tape is essentially an artificial barrier we choose to put on our enterprises.
"For every dollar that is wasted on filling out forms and keeping the government in the loop on what's happening in every workplace, is money taken away from growing a business and paying salaries."
The survey also found that red tape costs rise with business size.
Generally it cost non-employing business $3000, businesses with one to four people $9000, businesses with less than 20 staff $18,000, business with up to 200 staff $61,000 and businesses with more than 200 staff $386,0000.
The most complex areas identified in the study were work health and safety, employment law and planning.