Employers can expect a significant rise in the number of requests they receive for flexible working when new legislation comes into force in April, according to international law firm Bird & Bird.
From April 2007, employers will be obliged to consider requests for flexible working from those who care for adults including spouses, partners and relatives, as well as from parents of young children.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) figures indicate that 1.4 million carers will be eligible to request flexible working under the Work and Families Act 2006.
Bird & Bird employment lawyer Elizabeth Lang said: "The current flexible working arrangements available to parents of young children are generally considered to work successfully.
"The extension of these rights to carers, and the broad way in which the definition of carers has been drafted, will mean that employers can expect a significant increase in the number of requests from employees to work flexibly.
"Some clients are already aware of prospective requests by employees who will qualify for the right after April".