The Government has sent a message to the public sector that it must show restraint when considering pay increases.
In new guidelines, the Government has told departments to take into account the impact on private sector wages before boosting pay rates.
Any increases must also be managed within existing baseline budgets.
The Labour Party claims the guidelines amount to a pay freeze.
However, State Services Minister Tony Ryall says the aim is to make sure state sector agencies are acting responsibly in the current climate.
He told Morning Report he expects there will be pay rises in some parts of the public service, but within the resources of the departments.
Mr Ryall has also stopped two investigations looking to address the pay gap between men and women in the public sector.