Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Make February 29 a public holiday

Various campaigns have recently drawn my attention to the fact that every four years, the British workforce do an extra day's work without pay. It's called February 29.

To its great credit, the National Trust is viewing this as an opportunity to raise awareness of environmental issues, and has given all its employees the day off on Friday week to do something green.

The excellent Big Green Switch website, which seeks to encourage people to find simple, practical ways to reduce their carbon footprint, is also backing the move, and lists a number of things which people can do to help ranging from cancelling their junk mail to planting a tree.

Obviously part of the logic of the NT's move is to save on the carbon emissions generated by people driving into work, which if replicated across the UK workforce, would be considerable.

I agree wholeheartedly with all this both as a means of helping the environment and because there are currently far too few public holidays in this country. A holiday devoted to tackling climate change - even it is one only every four years - would help on both counts.

Regular blog readers will know I have already called for St George's Day to be made a national holiday, along with January 2 (the Scots get this already) and the Queen's Official Birthday.

It's not because I'm a workshy slacker, it's because I think we live life at such a pace and intensity in this country now that we occasionally need to take a step back, and additional public holidays would provide an opportunity to do this.

It would also constitute a belated recognition by the government and the "business lobby" that we are all working much harder and longer hours as a nation, and against the backdrop of much greater job insecurity, than we did 20 or 30 years ago.

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Anonymous said...

If we want to help the environment, the last thing we should do is campaign for more public holidays in winter!

People will just go home, crank up the heating, turn on the television, computer, washing machine, tumble dryer, oven, dishwasher...

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

Not February 29th please pleas would be the end of our hopes for a proper public holiday on March 1st for St. David's Day!!!!

Gareth said...

St Andrew's for the Scots, St George's for the English, St David's for the Welsh.

Empire Day for the British (May 24th) - still celebrated in Canada and Edinburgh as 'Victoria Day'.

janestheone said...

absolutely right. I live in France now and we have a lot more public holidays and they are a GOOD THING - people are just generally cheerier when thereis always another holiday to look forward to. About half the country is off skiing this week.

Anonymous said...

On the plus side it means I get a free day of rent this year