The Government's commitment to increasing flexibility for working parents and improving the employment rights of temporary workers and has been met with a mixed reaction.
In Wednesday's draft Queen's Speech, the prime minister announced that extending the right to request flexible working to parents of children up to the age of 16, from the current age of six, was likely to come into force in April 2009.
Gordon Brown also renewed the commitment to introduce legislation that would mean temporary workers getting the same rates of pay, holiday entitlement and other benefits as permanent employees.
The Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) welcomed the first proposal, pointing to research which showed that flexible workers were "happier and more engaged with their work" and more likely to perform better.
Mike Emmott, CIPD's employee relations adviser, said: "In a tight labour market, flexible working is part of the package that can help recruit and retain the talent organisations need to deliver their objectives."
But the move to improve agency workers' rights after a short period of employment did not prove as popular.
A spokesman for The Forum of Private Business said the move would prove a "nightmare" for many entrepreneurs.
"Taking on agency staff to cover absences has often been a reasonable solution, as it suits all parties," he said. "Removing the incentive to employ temps on a part-time basis could leave many businesses with serious staffing problems."
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) agreed, warning that new rights would "increase bureaucracy" and "complicate" things.
Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the BHA, said: "There is talk of reducing the induction period to six weeks, which we think is too short. We would support a move that gave workers the same rights after a longer period of say six to 12 months, but not any shorter."
By Gemma Sharkey