All Staff Get Rights To Work From Home
The right to request flexible working arrangements is about to be extended to apply to all staff and not just parents and carers.
From Monday, workers who have been in their job for six months will be able to ask for flexitime, to job share or to work from home.
The change will extend flexible working rights to around 20 million people.
Many businesses who already offer it say it increases staff motivation and productivity and reduces absence.
It has been an option for all employees at the small advertising agency Osbornenash in Norwich since they set up three years ago - and it has paid off.
Managing director Carole Osborne said: "For us as a business it has helped because we want to be able to recruit the best staff that we possibly can ... it's important that we are flexible around their lives and then also that they can be flexible around what we as a business offer our clients."
The company's senior art director, Neil Wright, has two young daughters and is able to change his hours to suit his family life.
"Obviously family is important to everyone particularly having two children and my wife also works full time," he said.
"It's very valuable to be able to balance life and work equally."
But employment lawyer Fraser Younson, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs, fears it could leave bosses with tough decisions about whose request to prioritise.
Flexibility will not be an option for all businesses and there are various grounds on which they can reject an application.
Christopher Soule, from the Federation of Small Businesses, said that one reason might be if the request worked out as too expensive for the employee's company.
But Mr Soule believes that many companies will embrace the opportunities.
"About 70% of our members already do some kind of flexible working," he said.
"It will make people think about whether it will help their business and improve their business and improve their staff relations."
Workers will have the right to appeal if the decision does not go their way and apply again 12 months later.