New family friendly rules come into force in April, and businesses should act now to get ready for the changes, according to Nick Poole, partner at Darlington law firm Latimer Hinks. Anyone who cares for an elderly parent or a sick husband or wife is to get the right to ask his or her boss for flexible working. Nick said: "Up until now, flexible working has really only applied to parents of young children. We all have the right to ask our employers for flexible working if we have children under six, or a disabled child under 18. From April, the right to formally request flexible working is extended even further. So, someone caring for an elderly parent, or a sick spouse, will get the same rights." Nick warns that bosses need to be aware of the new rules ro request flexible working. Anyone who wants to take advantage of the new rules also needs to follow the right procedures. He said: Employers have a duty to consider requests but can reject them if the desired working pattern cannot be accommodated within the needs of the business. To make a request, the employee needs to have been working for the employer for at least 26 weeks. Agency workers and members of the armed forces are not included in this legislation. From our extensive work with local employers, we know that many are aware of the rule change and ready for it. But, in truth, there are many more that still need to act."