The number of employers who expect to lay off staff in the next three months has risen sharply.
A report by recruitment firm Hudson on hiring expectations shows that a quarter of firms surveyed intend to cut staff numbers during the quarter.
Overall confidence has fallen 19 percentage points to negative 11%, measured by the number of employers expecting increases in staff levels minus the number expecting decreases.
Hudson executive general manager Marc Burrage says some employers are asking staff to take salary cuts or job-share to avoid redundancies.
Mr Burrage says employers are feeling the pressure of the recession, and the report backs up economists' predictions that the unemployment rate will continue rising over the next 18 months.
It follows an employment confidence survey that found confidence among workers has slumped to a record low as the recession leaves many fearing for their jobs.