Coronavirus Update – Monday 30March 2020
The pace of change last week was relentless but by the end we had some much needed detail on the financial support offered by Government, including furloughed workers.
Over the weekend, Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, was questioned on the issue of individuals going to work and not feeling safe to do so. He was very clear that, where work cannot be undertaken from home, people should go to work and employers must follow Public Health England (PHE) guidance. Build UK on behalf of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has developed Site Operating Procedures specifically for construction sites to ensure they are compliant.
We are receiving positive feedback on sites moving to 24 hour shifts, revising programmes to minimise trades working alongside each other, and reconfiguring welfare areas to protect the workforce. However, Build UK Contractor members have been clear that no-one should be required to travel or work if the PHE guidance on social distancing cannot be met.
London remains a real challenge and we are specifically requesting that sites change their working hours to avoid putting pressure on public transport, particularly the tube network, during the peak hours of 05:45 ‐7:30 and 16:00 ‐17:30. If construction workers travel later in the morning and evening, they can protect themselves, critical workers and transport staff.
The CLC continues to lead the industry response to the pandemic and:
- is advising employers to issue their workers with a letter explaining that they are a construction worker or supplying services to a construction site in the event that they are asked to verify they are on an essential trip
- has published Frequently Asked Questions on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and furloughing workers.
- is aware that the availability of accommodation for construction workers living away from home is becoming an issue and has raised it with the Government.
The British Business Bank has published Frequently Asked Questions on the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) which is now available to SMEs. It has been confirm that personal guarantees are not required as security for loans under £250,000.
The Government has announced plans to amend insolvency law to help companies keep trading while they explore options for rescue or restructure.
Employers on the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) have written to the Unions postponing the current Working Rule Agreement pay negotiations.
Thanks again to all of our members that have offered PPE for the NHS –if you can supply masks, gloves, gowns or goggles, please contact Build UK.
Businesses should continue to follow the most up-to-date Government guidance and for the latest updates please follow Build UK on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you have any construction-specific queries or feedback on what is happening, please contact Build UK.