Workplaces will feel like TV dramas ER or Casualty next year, with managers facing traumatised or anxious workers affected by job and pay cuts according a gloomy new report.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) believes next year could be the worst for jobs in two decades, with 600,000 workers facing redundancy and others having their pay frozen.

The CIPD report also warned that when the recession ends, more than a million jobs could have been lost in the UK.

The institute, which represents managers and personnel staff, forecast that unemployment will stop short of three million, but it warned that the period between New Year and Easter will be the worst for redundancies since 1991.

Chief economist John Philpott said: “This time last year, in the face of some scepticism, the CIPD warned that 2008 would be the UK’s worst year for jobs in a decade. It was, but in retrospect it will be seen as merely the slow motion prelude to what will be the worst year for jobs in almost two decades.

“The CIPD’s annual barometer forecast is that the UK economy will shed at least 600,000 jobs in 2009. Overall the 18-month period from the start of the recession in mid-2008 until the end of 2009 will witness the loss of around three quarters of a million jobs, equivalent to the total net rise in employment in the preceding three years.

“Assuming the economy bottoms out in the second half of 2009, job losses are likely to continue into 2010, in all probability taking the final toll of lost jobs to around one million.

“Our current expectation, based on available survey evidence and employer soundings, is that the number of redundancies will jump sharply in the early months of 2009, once employers take stock of the economic outlook.”

A survey of 2,600 workers by the CIPD showed that more than one in four did not expect a pay rise next year, a similar number believed any wage increase will be lower than in 2008, while some feared a wage cut.

CIPD reward adviser Charles Cotton said: “With job cuts seemingly lurking around every corner and trading conditions tight, employees are realistic about their pay prospects for the year ahead. Employers will need to work hard to find new ways to motivate their employees to perform.”