Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has said that changes to sick pay rules are the 'least bad' option for businesses
Minister Bruton insisted that amendments introduced in the Budget, including the provision that workers need to be out of work for six days before claiming sick benefit, will not make it harder to set up a small business.
Most employers cover sick pay on a voluntary basis and are now under pressure to extend pay for sick workers.
But Minister Bruton said the rules will not make it harder to take on new staff.
"This is not a measure directed at small business in any way," he said.
"It is unfortunate that we've had to reduce sick cover for workers in the way that has occurred; but against a background of a very difficult economic situation and the need to balance our public books, this is a measure that was the least bad of a range of measures," he added.