Bosses 'should offer four-day week'

GardenerAll employers should introduce the option of a four-day working week, with gardening promoted as a beneficial way of using the extra time, it has been suggested.

Spending less time in the office and gardening both have a range of benefits, and a scheme to provide a shorter working week and space for growing plants and food could "provide the answer to every headline problem at the moment", it was claimed.
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Gardening and growing food are good for physical and mental health, improve the environment and boost wildlife in towns and cities and even help make urban communities more resilient against food prices spikes and climate change.

But to harness the growing interest in gardening and "growing your own", more time and space for growing plant and vegetables in cities are needed, said a leaflet by Andrew Simms, of the New Economics Foundation, and co-author Mollie Conisbee.

So, all private and public employers should offer new recruits, and possibly existing staff, the option of a four-day week, either with the same amount of hours compressed into four days or a shorter working week with less pay.

Alongside the four-day week, employers should seek to provide urban growing spaces where people can grow vegetables and fruit, as well as plants and flowers which make cities look nicer and provide wildlife havens, their leaflet suggests.

Options range from rooftops, such as Thornton's Budgens supermarket in Crouch End, North London, which has a "food from the sky" project, to individual parking spaces in car parks which are being taken over in Los Angeles in the United States as "parklets".

The shorter working week could increase employment, relieve pressure on public services as people are healthier and have more time to be carers, and allow people to save money doing tasks they would otherwise have to pay someone else to do.

The authors point to other places in the world where a shorter week has delivered benefits, such as Utah in the US where the working week for state employees was compressed into four days, saving the state millions of dollars.

Absenteeism, overtime and official transport use were reduced and carbon emissions cut by 14% in the experiment introduced as a response to the economic crisis in 2008.
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