The Government has confirmed that provisions on positive action will be implemented on 6 April, under the Equality Act 2010.
A commencement order published this week permits employers faced with two or more candidates of equal merit to choose a candidate from a group that is under-represented in the workforce in their recruitment or promotion processes.
Last week, the Government issued guidance on the provisions and urged employers to ignore scare stories about the Act's implications for business.
Companies have been urged to look at the guidance before the law changes and the Government has stressed that this does not mean giving someone a job just because they are from a minority, and that positive discrimination remains unlawful.
Stephen Simpson, senior employment law editor at XpertHR, explained: "We've now had confirmation that this controversial section of the Equality Act will be coming into force in April 2011. Employers that intend to make use of positive action - which is entirely voluntary - can start reviewing their recruitment processes now.
"Employers should make clear in their recruitment policies that their recruiters can use positive action only when there's a genuine case of under-representation and candidates are equally qualified. They should have watertight criteria to assess candidates and still recruit anyone who is judged by those criteria to be the best person for the job. Also, those criteria must not be indirectly discriminatory."
Read more on the Equality Act commencement order on XpertHR.