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The impact of COVID-19 on the construction sector

As international efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 dominate the headlines, every sector will be grappling with the likely short and long-term impact of the virus.

For the construction sector, CECA (The Civil Engineering Contractors Association) has issued the following statement:

We know that our members are already taking action:

  1. Increasing welfare and hygiene facilities and protecting the workforce.
  2. Liaising with clients on contingency arrangements.
  3. Reviewing contractual arrangements to understand options now and in the future.
  4. Liaising with funders and banks to secure sufficient credit.
  5. Contacting HMRC on 0800 0159 559 to discuss arrangements for delaying payment of taxes.
  6. Setting up project specific communication networks with their supply chains.
  7. Reviewing safety critical elements of their projects.
  8. Reviewing programmes.
  9. Ensuring remote access is in place.
  10. Offering those with the ability to work from home to do so.
  11. Protecting business critical functions such as payroll and accounts departments.
  12. Splitting teams to avoid everyone becoming ill at the same time.
  13. Reducing contact between leadership teams.
  14. Cancelling or moving meetings and overseas travel to conference calls or online meetings.

They add: Communication at this time is key. To reassure workers and the supply chain where possible but also to ensure prompt action can be taken to implement Government policy, advice and guidance which is changing rapidly.

Over the next few days Build UK and CECA will be:

a) Providing information on Force Majeure and other contractual clauses for the whole supply chain.

b) Calling on the public sector to provide clarity on each of its construction contracts. In particular on the contractual position regarding delays as a result of the Coronavirus Covid-19.

c) Talking to private sector clients urging them to take a similar stance.

d) Asking Government to: Identify safety critical work on the infrastructure network that is essential and must be continued and to confirm arrangements and prompt payment for this work. Confirm support available to employers to retain essential skills

e) Asking our members to:

  • Set up clear communication channels to all suppliers on their contracts and projects and provide regular updates
  • Ensure payments to their supply chain are up to date
  • Clarify the position over suspension of any works
  • Identify if any activities can continue remotely or be brought forward
  • Ensure projects are ready to recommence work as soon as possible

f) Working with CITB to maintain continuity for all apprentices. Build UK has published an article on managing risks to your staff and workplace, whilst employers and businesses should continue to follow the most up-to-date Government guidance, as well as referring to its advice sheet on home isolation. Members can contact Build UK and CECA via email with any construction-specific queries. CECA say that they cannot guarantee to respond to every message, however if they are aware of sector-specific issues, they may have the opportunity to address them collectively.

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Today we are talking about the impact of COVID-19 on the construction sector.

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