Flexible working now an option for everyone.

The Children and Families Act could become one of the most noteworthy changes in working conditions since the Contracts of Employment Act of 1963.

Thanks to the Children and Families Act, which was finally given royal assent last week, all staff will now be eligible to request flexible working and a multitude of other rights.

Employment laws previously only allowed personnel with disabled children, those with children younger than the age of 17 years and those with caring responsibilities to request work flexibility. The new law, which takes effect next month, will allow any employee with at least six months' continuous service to request flexible working after the 30th of June.

Flexible working requests.

Flexible working encompasses a variety of work situations, including – but not limited to – job shares, shortening the working week, and telecommuting.

In addition to opening flexible working up to all individuals, the new law will allow other types of work-life balance, such as the option for adopters, fathers and mothers to share parental leave.

“Current workplace arrangements have not kept pace with the times. The Children and Families Act will bring the way parents balance their working and home lives back into the 21st century,” explains employment relations minister Jenny Willott.

“By enabling any employee to work flexibly, we want to remove any cultural assumption that flexible working is only for women, or just parents and carers,” she added.

It is important to note, however, that the law does not guarantee flexible working for all employees; instead, it guarantees that they may request flexible working and that these requests must be given reasonable consideration.