Prime Minister Gordon Brown is considering plans which could see the minimum wage reduced in Northern Ireland, it is believed.
Mr Brown is believed to be considering reducing the minimum wage in NI
The minimum wage is set at £5.35 across the UK, however, if the plans go ahead it will be reduced in NI, Scotland, Wales and the north east of England.
Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey said he was disappointed with the idea.
"We have difficulty in getting people to leave benefit and go to work, this would make matters worse," he said.
"I think for that reason we have got to remember that the people who are receiving the minimum wage tend to be those people who are doing very basic jobs and I honestly don't think penalising them will improve our economic prosperity."
A government spokesperson would not comment on the issue.