In Covid update

The Government announced on Sunday that it was urging businesses in England to return to work and released OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy on Monday which describes its phased approach to recovery and a roadmap to lifting restrictions. The Government states that “anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.”

The Government has since released its guidance on safety during coronavirus, which includes updated guidance on construction and other outdoor work, as well as guidance for factories plants and warehouses

This guidance recommends that construction firms carry out covid-19 risk assessments as workers return to sites, and companies with more than 50 workers should publish this on their websites.

Information on PPE and face coverings  is included in section 6 of the construction guidance, which also directs employers to HSE Toolkits for advice on risk assessment.

The Government in England and Wales has been encouraging construction sites to remain open wherever possible throughout the lockdown, prompting Build UK to survey its Contractor Members to understand how many major sites are open and the productivity levels being achieved. The latest results showed that on 4 May some 76% of sites in England and Wales were open, including 95% of infrastructure sites, 82% of general construction and 52% of housing. These numbers fall to 20% in Scotland, where only defined critical sites are allowed to open.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak today announced that the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October. The scheme enables furloughed workers across UK to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500.

The Government will introduce new flexibility from August which is expected to allow employers to bring back their workers part-time and will also explore ways through which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills can be supported. New statistics published today revealed the job retention scheme has protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses.

Contractual best practice
The Construction Leadership Council via its Covid-19 Industry Task Force has produced guidance on contractual best practice which provides detailed advice including sample letters under various forms of contract.

Further guidance on Contractual and Commercial Considerations for the Return to Site and other advice is available to download from the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum

The Cabinet Office has also issued guidance on responsible contract behaviour which that parties to contracts impacted by the COVID-19 emergency should act responsibly and fairly, support the response to COVID-19 and protect jobs and the economy.

Safety and rights advice for construction
Guidance and advice on workers’ rights is available from a number of sources including the Trade Unions Congress and the Unite Union which offers a hotline and email to report unsafe working and lack of social distancing on construction sites as part of a campaign to keep construction workers safe, as well as a range of health and safety and risk assessment advice for all sectors.

Useful health and safety advice is also available from the FIS, including a Four Step Protocol to Safe Systems of Work and the COVID-19 Pandemic 2020.