A guide to help small businesses to manage the downturn has been launched by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The publication advises organisations to consider alternatives to making redundancies, such as introducing flexible working. It also urges SMEs to brush up on the law about job cuts.
Earlier this year the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development predicted a further 600,000 jobs could be lost during 2009. Many of these losses are predicted to come from small businesses, which are closing at a rate of around 85 every day.
About 13 million people work in 4.7 million small businesses in the UK. The vast majority of these employ fewer than 20 people.
An EHRC statement about the guide, Managing the downturn and preparing for recovery, said it would help organisations to approach the economic challenges they face fairly and ensure they comply with the law.
"It is unlawful to make an employee redundant because of their gender (including transsexual people), religion, age, sexual orientation or because they are pregnant or disabled," it added.