All staff are now able to request flexible working conditions from their employers following the passing of the Children and Families Act. The legislation has brought with it alterations in a number of working conditions, including the ability for all workers to be able to work flexibly, altering the way in which employers use workforce management.

Before the passing of the bill, only employees that had either children under the age of 17, disabled children or carer responsibilities were able to ask their company to allow them to work flexibly. However, flexible working has now become a more popular option across the board, with many businesses offering it and a high number of workers wishing it was an option. 

With the passing of the legislation – which will come into effect next month (April), any employee that has been with the company for a continuous period of six months is able to ask to work flexibly after June 30th this year. This means that more people will be able to benefit from job shares, home working, working compressed weeks and other flexible options.

The new legislation will also help to improve other areas of work-life balance, providing benefits for staff and employers. This includes the ability to share parental leave between mothers, fathers and adopters from April next year. Parents will then be able to have a few months off at the same time following the birth or adoption of a new child, or swap their leave time throughout the first 12 months. Leave will be available to either parent in weekly periods.

Jenny Willott, employment relations minister, said: "Current workplace arrangements have not kept up with the times. The Children and Families Act will bring the way new parents balance their working and home lives into the 21st century.

"By enabling any employee to request to work flexibly, we want to remove any cultural assumption that flexible working is only for women, or just for parents and carers. We want these reforms to bring about a culture change in Britain’s workplaces, allowing everyone to better balance work with their personal life in the way that works for them."