The recently announced equalities bill may result in illegal discrimination against job candidates due to misinterpretation by employers, it has been suggested.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), misunderstandings concerning the legislation may result in the unfair treatment of applicants.

Under the terms of the bill, employers will be able to appoint people specifically because of their race or gender in situations where candidates are equally well qualified and where doing so would promote diversity.

Commenting on the bill, the confederation’s chief executive Kevin Green said: "The REC is concerned that what is a relatively minor measure could be misinterpreted and bring about illegal discriminatory practice."

He added that, in order to avoid legal pitfalls, firms should use professional recruiters who have a greater awareness of the legislation.

Mr Green went on to say that, in reality, recruitment is about finding the best person for the job, regardless of their background.