More than two million workers are likely to ask their bosses to let them work from home from the first day of a new job, according to the plans presented by ministers today.

The plan would relax the current rules that allow employees to apply for flexible hours once they have been in a position for six months.

It was launched after millions of people worked from home during the Covid pandemic, and many companies decided to keep some measures permanently.

Ministers plan to maintain rules that allow companies to reject applications if they have “good business reasons” to do so.

But they want to put pressure on employers to negotiate with their employees rather than rejecting requests outright.

However, it is a watered-down version of the move in the 2019 Tory Manifesto, which promised to make flexible working the “standard” instead of asking for something that must be asked for.

It was launched after millions of people worked from home during the Covid pandemic, and many companies decided to keep some measures permanently.

Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Empowering workers to have more say in where and when they work leads to more productive companies and happier employees.

Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Empowering workers to have more say in where and when they work leads to more productive companies and happier employees.

Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Empowering workers to have more say in where and when they work leads to more productive companies and happier employees.

“It used to be considered ‘nice to have’, but by getting inquiries right from the start, we’re making flexible working part of the DNA of companies across the country.

“A more committed and productive workforce, a higher qualification level of applicants and better retention rates – the business case for flexible working is convincing.”

The government said a number of flexible working methods are also being examined, including job-sharing, flextime, reduced working hours and partial retirement, and working from home, a trend that has accelerated as a result of the pandemic.

There are also plans for nationwide entitlement to one week of unpaid leave for family carers who combine work and care responsibilities.

Ministers said there are some circumstances where companies cannot offer flexible hours, so they should still be able to decline an application if they have valid business reasons.

Minister for Women and Equality, Liz Truss, said: “When we leave the pandemic behind, we must seize the opportunity to make flexible working an option for all.

“No one should be delayed in their career because of their place of residence, their home, or their responsibilities to their families.

“I want everyone to have the same opportunities, regardless of their origin or location. This is right for workers, families and our economy. ‘

But Labor vice-leader Angela Rayner, who is also the shadow future labor secretary, said this reflected “another broken manifesto promise.”

She said, “Work will give workers the right to work flexibly – not just the right to request it. Labor will make flexible working a positive force so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of flexible working, from better work-life balance to less commuting and more family time. ‘

TUC Secretary General Frances O’Grady said: “Flexible working should be a fundamental right open to all.

“But under these plans, employers still have a free hand to reject all or all requests for flexible working hours.

“Instead of tinkering with the margins, ministers should change the law so that workers have the right to work flexibly from day one. The right to ask nicely is not a right at all.

“Not all jobs can support every type of flexible working – but all jobs can support some type of flexible working.

“All job advertisements should make it clear what flexibility is available.”

In labor law, there are eight reasons why an application for flexible working hours can be rejected by an employer

In labor law, there are eight reasons why an application for flexible working hours can be rejected by an employer

Matthew Fell, CBI’s Chief Policy Director, added, “Companies have learned a lot about the pros and cons of flexible working hours during the pandemic, and many companies expect more formal and informal inquiries in the future.

“Employers support employees who demand flexible working hours from day one.

“Companies want to work with the government to make sure they can say ‘no’ when they’ve properly considered requests but can’t take them for good reason,” he added.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We have long highlighted the benefits of flexible working hours – from opening up career opportunities for women, carers and disabled people to helping employers attract and retain a more diverse range of people Workforce.

“The benefits are obvious, and the pandemic has shown that various forms of flexible working can work in practice to the benefit of both the employer and the employee.

“Consultation with the government is a welcome first step towards making flexible working a standard from day one, if possible.”