The right to request flexible working has been extended to every employee on 30 June.
The legislation was due to take effect on 6 April, but was postponed because of a delay in the Children and Families Bill’s progress through Parliament.
Previously, the right was only available for carers or people who look after children.
The government has predicted that an estimated 20 million employees will now benefit from the extension.
As part of the right, employees can expect their request to be considered in a reasonable manner by employers, making it simpler than the previous process organisations had to undergo before making a decision.
However, employers will be able to turn down a request for flexible working for one of eight reasons:
- Burden of additional costs.
- Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.
- Inability to reorganise work among existing staff.
- Inability to recruit additional staff.
- Detrimental impact on quality.
- Detrimental impact on performance.
- Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work.
- Planned structural changes.
Sarah Jackson, chief executive officer of Working Families, said: “This is an important step forward in making work, work for all, no matter what their family circumstances.
“The main beneficiaries of the extension of the right to request flexible working on 30 June 2014 are those people who want to work flexibly for reasons other than a caring responsibility.
“Whatever the reason, individuals who want to find the right work-life fit for themselves will now find it easier to combine working with their outside interests and commitments”.
Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte, added: “The flexible working legislation introduced today is a step in the right direction for UK business, but there’s more that can be done.
“Beyond the wellbeing of employees, the ability to operate a truly agile workforce will also have a positive impact on the performance of a business, but organisations must realise the cultural shift that is required to ensure that flexible working becomes a reality.”