Employers should offer recruits four-day weeks and green space to grow veg, a report says

A four-day working week - with gardening put forward as a beneficial way of using spare time - should be introduced by all employers, it has been suggested.

Providing a shorter working week - along with space for growing food and plants - could provide the answer to many of today's problems, according to a report.

Not only does growing one's own food help the environment and boost wildlife, but it can also be beneficial for physical and mental health as well as making good economic sense during times of rising food prices.

Report authors Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation and Mollie Conisbee said more time and space is needed in towns and cities to foster rising interest in "growing your own".

To this end, the paper's authors say, new recruits should be offered a shorter working week with less pay or the same amount of working hours compressed into a four-day week.

Private and public sector employers are also urged to make "urban growing space" available for people to grow fruit and veg, while cultivating flowers and other plants could help provide wildlife hotspots as well as improving the look of many urban environments.

Examples cited included a "food from the sky" scheme in Thornton's Budgens superstore in north London's Crouch End and a scheme in Los Angeles in which car park spaces have been taken over as "parklet" green spaces.

It is theorised that a shorter working week could boost employment, cut pressure on public services with higher levels of public health, and also put more money in people's pockets by allowing them to save on tasks which they would pay other people to carry out, such as being carers.

Similar schemes which have paid dividends include one in Utah in the US, where compressing working weeks was found to have saved millions of dollars from the public purse.

Carbon emissions, absenteeism, overtime and road use were all cut during the experiment, brought about following the initial economic crisis in 2008.

Copyright Press Association 2012