Two employment bodies have called for the government to offer more support to the half a million workers facing redundancy or reduced hours.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have asked for wage and training subsidies for employees whose firms move to short-term wages and temporary lay-offs during the recession.
It was also suggested that the government pay 60 per cent of wages and National Insurance contributions during the lay-offs or reduced hours.
John Wright, national chairman of the FSB, said the idea would "begin to alleviate the cash flow crisis that is engulfing many small businesses" as well as helping them to "join in a recovery when it comes".
He added that it would be a "national investment which will eventually pay for itself".
The TUC has recently warned bosses not to use the recession as an easy way to make workers redundant by unfair means.