Up to half the workforce is unaware of the work-life balance policies their companies offer, suggests research.
A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation at six large employers in Sheffield and Canterbury shows that staff often do not know about the policies open to them.
The research into local government, supermarket and retail banking, carried out by Sheffield Hallam and City Universities, found a lack of staff awareness, training, guidance and consultation about work-life issues.
Managers claim demanding service delivery targets mean it is difficult to agree to unpaid leave and other requests for flexibility.
The research found that one in five employees cares for a dependent adult and one in three cares for children.
Sue Yeandle, co-author of the study, said: "Employers should clearly be doing more to raise awareness of their family-friendly policies among the workforce.
"The need for better training as identified by many managers, is in how to implement those policies fairly, another area that needs to be addressed."
A separate Joseph Rowntree Foundation report finds the majority of dual-income families have one or both parents working outside normal nine to five hours.