The owner of a hair salon was told she could not run a job advert for a “happy” stylist as it “discriminated against unhappy people”.
AJ’s in Stroud, Gloucestershire, placed an advert on the Jobcentre Plus website on Wednesday stating it was a “happy salon looking for happy people”.
But within hours owner Alison Birch was contacted over the wording of the ad.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the decision was a mistake and has apologised.
Ms Birch, 54, said she thought it was a “wind up” when she received the call but when she checked the number found “it was the Jobcentre”.
Ms Birch said she placed an advert for a “happy” part-time, fully qualified, stylist on the Jobcentre website on Wednesday morning.
But an hour and a half later, she was “amazed” when she got a call from the DWP.
“They said we can’t place your advert because you have put a discriminatory word in it and we need to change it,” she said.
“They said you’re not allowed to use the word happy, in case somebody thinks they can’t apply because they are not a happy person.”
She thought it was a client “winding her up” but when she realised it was the Jobcentre, she was “adamant” she “didn’t want to change it”.
“I only want happy people but I am too scared to advertise my job now in case I discriminate against anybody,” she said.
“Surely by asking for happy applicants I won’t make unhappy people even more unhappy by not offering them a job.
“Anyway I haven’t had an application yet and I am still looking for a stylist.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We mistakenly advised a customer to amend a job advert but have since offered to repost the original copy and apologised for the error.”