The right to request flexible working is to be extended to parents of children under 18 from next year, benefiting an estimated 300,000 people, the Government has announced.
Ministers said the move would make it easier for people to balance work and family life.
A consultation will be launched later this year looking at how to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, and the design of a new system of flexible parental leave.
Employment relations minister Edward Davey said: "We want to help parents and create a fairer, family friendly society. We will be launching a consultation later this year to make sure the law better supports real families juggling work and family life, and the businesses that employ them.
"This immediate change will give parents of all children, regardless of age, the same right to request flexible working.
"The plans we'll unveil later this year are much more ambitious but these interim measures are an important first step."
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: "Companies are missing out on the skills and talents of too many people who are forced to choose between raising a family and having a job, so we will be working with businesses to change this in a way that will make life better for employers, employees and the economy."
Currently the right to request flexible working is available to parents of children aged under 17, parents of disabled children under 18 and carers of certain adults.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Extending the right to request and improving parental leave arrangements will help make Britain a more family-friendly place to work. Unions have always negotiated good flexible arrangements with progressive employers but some businesses need a push."