The government's new Flexible Working Regulation comes into force today, which gives parents of children under six, or disabled children under 18, the legal right to ask employers to consider flexible ways of working.

Technologies like broadband mean that working from home for part of the week has never been more viable, and the DTI Work-Life Balance 2003 survey published today suggests that most employers welcome the new legislation. It found that 94 percent of the 1,200 workplaces surveyed thought that people worked best when allowed to balance work and home life. It also found that 26 percent of employees were already working flexitime.

But resourcing specialist Parity believes that these figures might paint a picture rosier than the reality. It found that 64 percent of HR professionals didn't know that employees are entitled to potential changes in working hours, and that 72 percent didn't think that the government's new rules would have any impact on employees' work/life balance.

"This lack of awareness is astounding, especially as it comes from people who should be more informed", says Parity's Rick Bacon. Bacon believes that by letting employees take advantage of technologies that allow them to work effectively from home for at least part of the week will lead to a "huge potential benefit for both [bosses and staff]".

This is backed up by the government's findings — 75 percent of employers who allowed employees to work flexitime found that they had a more motivated and committed work force as a result, and 60 percent said they had reduced staff turnover. "Thousands of businesses around the country already recognise that work/life balance polices can improve their business and help their staff," commented Trade and Industry secretary, Patricia Hewitt.

For more information on the flexible working and the new rights call 08457 474 747 or click here.