The government will seek to grant all employees the right to request flexible working.

The plans, published today by the department for business, will, according to the government, allow 2.2 million more people the right to request flexible working.

The proposed changes would permit all UK employees to request flexible working arrangements from day-one of a new job.

Workers must currently wait until they have been in their job for six months.

The proposals would also see bosses have to respond to requests for flexible working more quickly than the current maximum of three months and would make firms explain why any requests were refused.

The consultation will examine a range of flexible working methods such as job-sharing, flexitime, compressed, annualised and staggered hours, as well as phased retirement – not just working from home.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Empowering workers to have more say over where and when they work makes for more productive businesses and happier employees.

“It was once considered a ‘nice to have’, but by making requests a day one right, we’re making flexible working part of the DNA of businesses across the country.

James Timpson, Chief Executive of Timpson Group, said: ”People are our greatest asset as a business. I focus a lot of my time in creating a great culture, with a big part of that making sure colleagues feel empowered to work in a way that best suits them and also delivers for us.

He went on: “Giving workers more choice about how they work will not only inspire and motivate staff, it will also help businesses attract and retain the best talent to grow their companies.”

A global survey of 200,000 staff published in March this year by TotalJobs.com found that nine in 10 employees reported desiring flexibility over where they work.

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s deputy Leader and shadow secretary of state for the future of work, said: “Labour will give workers the right to flexible working – not just the right to request it – and give all workers full rights from day one on the job.”