All employees can now ask to have flexible working hours due to the government extension of the rights previously reserved for carers and people looking after children.


Part of the right to request flexible working hours, which the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says affects 20 million people, ensures employers must consider the requests for flexible working “in a reasonable manner”.


The changes in legislation affects anyone with over six months service at a company and follows on from the government’s recent announcement that it would prevent employers from stopping staff with zero hour contracts from looking for additional work with other employers.


The government are hopeful the right to flexible working will be especially beneficial to those workers who are looking to improve their employability and prospects through education and training.


Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Modern businesses know that flexible working boosts productivity and staff morale, and helps them keep their top talent so that they can grow.”


"It's about time we brought working practices bang up-to-date with the needs, and choices, of our modern families."


Susannah Clements, Chief Executive of the Institute of Personal Development said: "Employers increasingly recognise the strong business case for flexible working, including enhanced employee engagement and the attraction and retention of a more diverse workforce."


OBAS Group CEO Norman Tenray was featured on BBC Radio Lancashire this morning discussing the pros and cons of the new directive, he later went on to comment: “Early on in my career I worked from home so I understand the pros and cons of that kind of working, but the legislation in general isn't really about that and it’s important that we don’t get the issue confused. The framework overall is sensible, easy to understand and is fair and equitable to both sides being sympathetic to both the employee and the employer.”


“Most professional businesses understand how important it is to work with their key members of staff to ensure they can operate at their maximum capacity in a manner that best suits them. In order to manage this successfully, businesses must address this head on and outline their expectations to their staff so there’s no possibility for a negative dynamic to develop, especially where requests are unsuccessful.”


The construction industry is often ideally placed to allow for flexible working with many jobs being able to be started early and finished later than a normal 9-5 working environment might allow. Conversely, construction is an industry in which time-scales are determined months in advance and where missed deadlines can end up costing hundreds of thousands or more in lost earnings.


As set out in the framework, each application should be considered individually and on its own merit in order to determine if it’s feasible for an employee to work flexibly and in construction it’s likely there will be a lot more issues to be factored in than in most other industries.