30 June 2014
All employees have the right to request flexible working from today.
Previously, the option only applied to carers or people who look after children. Now more than 20 million employees will be able to request flexible working.
The government said the changes would help people balance work with other responsibilities, keep more people in long-term employment and allow companies to retain talent.
The government said it forecasts 182,000 requests a year, with the new right accounting for 81,000 of the new requests.
Of these, 144,000 are forecast to be granted, with 64,000 being employees taking advantage of the extension of the right.
The new right is expected to be of particular interest to older workers approaching retirement and to young people who may want take up training while they work.
Business minister Jo Swinson said: "Extending the right to request flexible working will help to create a cultural shift towards more modern, 21st century workplaces where working flexibly is the norm."
According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, businesses have reported benefits to allowing staff to adopt more flexible working practices.
More than half reported an improvement in employee relationships and staff motivation, with 40 per cent reporting a boost in productivity and 38 per cent seeing a drop in staff absence.
Acas has published a short code of practice to help employers understand the extension to the right and how to process requests.