Lorna Carter

+44 (0)1223 785299 lecarter@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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To work or not to work? Key coronavirus developments for the construction sector

Construction / 24 March 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night and the coronavirus outbreak generally, many businesses face inevitable concerns about their position with their employees and commercial contracts. Those working in the construction sector have been left particularly confused after ministerial advice appears to contradict lockdown measures imposed by government.

This morning, Michael Gove and Robert Jenrick confirmed via various media sources that construction sites can remain open despite last night’s advice. Advice for the housing, construction and building maintenance industries currently includes:

– If you can work from home, do so (unlikely for many in the sector);
– If you are working on site, you can continue to do so, but follow Public Health England’s guidance on social distancing; and
– Outside of work, remember to #StayHomeSaveLives

For a sector which relies heavily on travelling together in vans and gang-work, there are significant concerns about the health and safety of those asked to continue working, as well as their families and friends. ISG, Galliard and Multiplex to name a few, have now decided to take matters into their own hands by closing sites in wake of the growing coronavirus crisis. They plan to start shutting down sites throughout the day.

Whilst the reasons for site-workers concerns are fair and clear, construction businesses should be extremely cautious when shutting down sites or restricting access to sites. Our Construction team provided concise comments on the potential implications of such actions last week. 

In view of the pressure from industry chiefs, unions, general public and media, it is highly likely government’s current position on construction sites will change. We will keep you updated. In the meantime, if you need advice in respect of your legal position for shutting down sites and suspending works, our highly experienced Construction team is on hand around the clock to provide urgent advice should you have any concerns.

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