COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Industry

The coronavirus outbreak is having a devastating impact on the construction industry. Most businesses in the industry are doing their best to keep sites operational wherever it is practical and safe to do so.

The construction industry has played a key role during these exceptional circumstances, building temporary hospital wards, installing complex and life-saving oxygen systems, as well as continuing to ensure people have safe and healthy homes to live in.

As construction sites of all sizes across the UK continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic, businesses need to ensure the protection of the workforce and minimise the risk of spread of infection.

To enable the construction industry to adhere to the government’s social distancing recommendations, whilst still being operational and delivering key services, the Construction Leadership Council has published Site Operating Procedures (SOP), which provides a standard approach across the industry for all businesses and workers to adopt during these unprecedented times. The SOP has been aligned with the latest guidance from Public Health England and will reflect any changes.

The Site Operating Procedure includes advice for businesses on:

  • Self-Isolation;
  • Procedure if someone falls ill;
  • Travel to site;
  • Site access points;
  • Hand washing;
  • Toilet facilities;
  • Canteens and eating arrangements;
  • Changing facilities, showers and drying rooms;
  • Avoiding close working;
  • Cleaning

‘It is also vital that the health and safety requirements of any construction activity must not be compromised at this time. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available, or social distancing being implemented, it should not take place’ [1].

Not only is the construction industry having to adapt ways of working to continue to be operational during these unprecedented times, there are a number of other challenges currently facing the industry:

  • Project delays – many projects are time sensitive, with the majority of contractors having various projects lined up over the course of the year. This could cause future projects to be lost and in addition, contractors could face penalties set out in the contract for delays in completing the work:
  • Supply chains – due to lockdown across the world, there have been delays with delivering supplies and many containers have ended up in the wrong places;
  • Temporary suspension of work – This is likely to occur because of a reduction in the numbers of workers due to them becoming unwell or having to self-isolate;
  • Increased health and safety measures– to try to protect people from contracting the coronavirus.

Wherever possible, businesses should plan ahead of future challenges which may be faced either during or as a result of the current global pandemic.

Government Support Schemes

To date, the Government has announced the following support, and have created a business support finder to make it easier for people to see what support is available for businesses and workers:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – helping business to pay employees who have been furloughed. Grants will be for 80% of salary, up to £2,500 per month. Businesses can opt to top up employees’ wages to 100% of their salary. The scheme will be open until the end of July without any changes to how it currently operates;
  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme – grants worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month, for each self-employed worker;
  • Rebates for Statutory Sick Pay and support through the Universal Credit system for the self-employed;
  • Paying tax – deferral of VAT payments until 31 March 2021; defer your self-assessment payments until 31 January 2021; or seek support through HMRC’s Time to Pay service;
  • Getting a loan – Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS);
  • Business rates relief – Small Business Grant Fund.

If you would like further guidance or support on this matter or require advice on other people management matters please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk

Copyright Clover HR

 

References

  1. https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/news/site-operating-procedures-during-covid-19/

 


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