Employers could face a surge in flexible working applications when the new legislation comes into effect later in the year.
A new survey conducted by YouGov reveals 26 per cent of British workers (excluding sole traders) are likely to request flexible working arrangements, HR review reports.
Some 69 per cent of the working population has never made a flexible working request, with 13 per cent of these reluctant to do so because of the financial implications and nearly a quarter (22 per cent) believing their request would be unlikely to be accepted.
However, attitudes could change when the new legislation comes into force. All employees with a minimum of 28 weeks' service will be able to request flexible working as of June 30th 2014, whereas previously only employees with children under 17 or with caring responsibilities were able to change their working patterns.
The employees most likely to request flexible working are 18-24 year-olds, with 31 per cent of this group considering making a request. Women (30 per cent) are more likely to request flexible working than men (22 per cent).
Croner, a Wolters Kluwer company providing information and consultancy to HR, health & safety and business professionals, commissioned the survey of 2,328 Britons.
Richard Smith, head of employment law at Croner, said: "For SMEs, flexible working will not be the easiest policy to implement, particularly if there is sudden rush of applicants this July. However, once the trust and change of mind set has been established the rewards of a flexible work force will become clear."
The research suggests there are significant business benefits to be had from implementing flexible working arrangements.
Some 27 per cent of those surveyed whose businesses allowed flexible working said it provided a boost to productivity, while 28 per cent said it reduced sickness and absence.
However, 16 per cent of respondents and 19 per cent among the 45-54 age group said it could raise tensions in the workplace.