Government announces package of business support measures, as cases of Covid-19 rise
21 December: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced a package of support for businesses impacted by the increased number of Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.
The government will cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK. A factsheet on this support is available here.
On top of grants for leisure and hospitality businesses, more than £100 million discretionary funding will also be made available for local authorities to support other affected businesses through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).
The Prime Minister and Chancellor urged everyone to ‘Get Boosted Now’ to help to protect their communities.
Prime Minister announces move to 'Plan B'
9 December: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a move to ‘Plan B’ as the government continues to assess the threat of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, of which there is now community transmission in the UK. This announcement applies only to England.
Consequently, from Friday 10 December, face coverings will be required in more settings, such as theatres and cinemas.
From Monday 13 December, everyone should work from home if it is possible to do so. From Wednesday 15 December, the NHS Covid Pass will be required for entry to certain venues, including nightclubs and any event with more than 10,000 people.
An NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained by providing evidence of either two doses of the Covid vaccine, or a negative lateral flow test.
It was also explained that once it is clear that booster jabs work against the Omicron variant, and enough people have received their booster, daily testing will also replace self-isolation for people who come into contact with an infected person.
Construction sites are asked to continue to take care to minimise the risk of spreading the virus to keep the workforce safe and sites operational. The CLC are reviewing the Site Operating Procedures and guidance on the Use of Face Coverings in Construction.
Construction Leadership Council (CLC) updates guidance on face coverings in construction
6 December: The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has now updated its guidance on the use of face coverings in construction.
The government position is that face coverings should be worn in crowded and enclosed indoor places in which people come into contact with others they don’t normally meet.
As part of their risk assessment, employers should consider whether to ask workers to wear a face covering. Workers may also choose to wear a face covering where it is not legally required and should be supported to do so.
The use of face coverings and/or PPE is not required in response to Covid-19 whilst carrying out construction activities. The government guidance on Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) – Construction and other outdoor work states: ‘Do not encourage the precautionary use of PPE to protect against COVID-19 unless in a clinical setting or responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19’.
The CLC’s position is that where workers on site are not required to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE), and their workplace is crowded and enclosed (which may include changing facilities or site offices), and they come into contact with others they do not normally meet, their employer should make face coverings available and they should be worn.
In line with government guidance, face coverings are not legally required to be worn in canteens.
Government lays out plan of action to protect against new Covid-19 variant
29 November: The UK government has laid out new measures to protect against the risk presented by the new Omicron variant of Covid-19. Eleven cases of the new variant have now been identified in the UK.
All close contacts of people with the Omicron variant of the virus will have to isolate for ten days. Compulsory face masks will also be made mandatory in some places for everyone without a medical exemption, including in shops and on public transport. All passengers coming into the UK will have to take a Covid-19 test.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has also confirmed further rollout of the vaccination booster programme. Booster jabs will be offered to all over 18s, with older people offered the jabs first. The recommended gap between the second dose of the vaccine and booster has been reduced from six to three months, whilst severely immunocompromised people will be offered a fourth dose of a vaccine.
Government outlines next steps for vaccination programme and options for tackling Covid-19 in winter
17 September: In a press conference on Tuesday 14 September, the Prime Minister outlined the government’s present assessment of the Covid-19 situation and discussed ‘Plan B’, a reserve of additional measures that could be implemented during the autumn and winter to protect the health of nation if the threat from Covid-19 became too high. New variants, the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths, and pressure on the NHS will all be considered when deciding whether these measures are necessary.
The ‘Plan B’ measures include expanding the requirement of vaccine certification to enter certain premises, mandating face coverings in certain areas, and asking the public to work from home where possible. The Prime Minister emphasised that now a large percentage of the population was vaccinated or had antibodies, small changes could make a difference.
The Prime Minister highlighted that cases of Covid-19 were higher than a year ago, but the population was much better placed to fight the disease. Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty emphasised that the disease still had to be taken seriously, and that vaccination significantly reduced the risk of death or hospitalisation in all age groups. Therefore, the Prime Minister confirmed that a single jab is to be offered to 12 – 15 year olds, whilst over 50s and those at greater risk from the virus will be offered a third, ‘booster’ jab, around six months after their second jab.
The government will also continue to urge caution to the public and offer Covid-19 testing.
Right to Work Checks Update
8 September: The government has announced an extension of online Right to Work checks to 5 April 2022 (inclusive), following positive feedback about the ability to conduct checks remotely. The extension will allow the Home Office to ensure the Right to Work Scheme continues to operate in a manner that supports employers whilst they look to implement a longer-term solution post-pandemic.
The process for completing right to work checks also changed on 1 July 2021. Employers are no longer able to accept EU passports or ID cards as valid proof of right to work for new staff, with the exception of Irish citizens. Instead, you should conduct an online check for job applicants that hold digital proof of their immigration status in the UK, known as an eVisa.
A manual check can be completed for UK and Irish nationals who can use their passport, or another identity document, as proof of their right to work. You will also need to complete a manual check for individuals in the UK who cannot prove their immigration status online.
Employers do not need to retrospectively check the status of any EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens you employed before 1 July 2021.
To assist employers in carrying out right to work checks, the government have developed a right to work check video
which can be found on the on the Home Office YouTube channel.
The video guides you through the new right to work check process, including details of applicant information required for both types of check and links to further information.
Fully-vaccinated adults no longer need to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19
16 August: Individuals who have had two Covid-19 vaccines no longer need to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19, as part of step 4 of the government’s roadmap.
Those aged under 18 also do not have to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone with Covid-19.
All individuals identified as close contacts will continue to be advised to take a PCR test, to detect the virus and variants of concern. Anyone who tests positive following the PCR test will still be legally required to self-isolate, irrespective of their vaccination status.
If someone has had or receives their second dose just before, or after, the 16th of August, they need to wait until two weeks after they have had the second jab to benefit from this new relaxation of the rules, to allow the vaccine time to build the maximum possible protection.
Further announcements and advice as UK moves towards reopening
15 July: Further announcements regarding the Covid-19 roadmap have been made following the Prime Minister’s confirmation of the move to Step 4 in England, which will take place next Monday 19 July.
The Scottish Government has confirmed the move to Level 0 on Monday 19 July, but certain measures will remain in place. These include working from home where possible and the mandatory wearing of face coverings.
Wales will move entirely to Alert Level 1 from 17 July, and, if the condition of public health allows to a new Level 0 on 7 August.
Northern Ireland is set to outline plans for easing restrictions soon.
Whilst the legal requirement to wear a face-covering on public transport and in many other enclosed spaces will end on Monday in England, the Mayor of London has confirmed that face coverings will remain mandatory on the London transport network.
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has stated that although the Site Operating Procedures will no longer reflect the latest guidance from the government, businesses may wish to maintain elements of social distancing for now, and the document will therefore remain available for reference. Build UK report that almost 90% of their members surveyed on a recent call indicated that they planned to retain social distancing measures on at least some of their sites until at least 16 August.
The CLC recommends that the good practices used over the last 18 months as a result of the pandemic are retained. It has also updated its guidance on The Use of Face Coverings in Construction to reflect the new government position.
NFRC will be taking a similar position with regards its Covid-19 Guidance Notes and Tool Box Talks (TBTs). Businesses across the roofing supply chain have welcomed the consistency that the Guidance Notes and TBT’s have provided and they may wish to maintain elements of social distancing for the time being.
Prime Minister confirms 19 July reopening
12 July: In a press conference on Covid-19 on Monday 12 July, the Prime Minister confirmed that the move to Step 4 of the coronavirus road map will take place on 19 July. Cases of Covid-19 are rising significantly, but Mr Johnson stated that this wave was foreseen when the roadmap was first set up, and that now was the right time to open up, with the natural firebreak of the school holidays and less cold weather.
The move to Step 4 was delayed by four weeks to allow time for more people to be vaccinated. By next Monday, two thirds of adults will have had two doses of the vaccine, and every adult will have been offered their first. This has weakened the link between infection, and serious illness and death.
The Prime Minister said that guidance will be set out for businesses on a gradual return to work over the summer. The test, trace, and isolate system will stay in place.
The Prime Minister stressed the move towards personal responsibility. The government recommended and expected that people would wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces. Professor Chris Whitty encouraged handwashing, avoiding crowded places, and getting vaccinated; Sir Patrick Vallance added that it was necessary to self-isolate if you tested positive, and encouraged keeping buildings ventilated.
On the possibility of future restrictions, the Prime Minister said he hoped the roadmap would be irreversible but stressed the need for caution, saying that all data would be under constant review until next year and in exceptional circumstances he would rule out nothing to protect the public.
Fully vaccinated UK residents arriving in England after 19 July will not have to quarantine
8 July: Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, has announced that from 19 July fully vaccinated UK residents arriving in England from travel destinations on the amber list will no longer have to quarantine upon their arrival. UK residents under the age of 18 will also not be required to quarantine. Currently, travellers from countries on the amber list, including France, Greece, mainland Spain and the USA, have to quarantine for 10 days upon their return to the UK.
Nearly two thirds of UK adults have now had two Covid vaccinations. However, it is notable that in order to be seen as ‘fully vaccinated’, Mr Shapps said, travellers would need to have had their final jab at least two weeks prior to travel. Furthermore, only jabs given in the UK will count, so those jabbed abroad will still have to quarantine when entering the UK. Travellers will also still need to pay for Covid test, both before travelling and when they return.
Scotland and Wales have not yet announced a similar move, but have said they will consider whether to follow this rule change. Before now, the UK government’s traffic light system, used by England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, has seen all four nations use broadly the same rules.
The next review of the UK’s travel lists will take place next week, on 15 July.
Final stage of Covid-19 roadmap set to go ahead on 19 July
5 July: Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid announced on Monday 5 July that there are no plans to delay further the planned move to Step 4 of the Covid-19 roadmap in England. The move will take place on Monday 19 July, and is to be confirmed one week in advance.
Step 4 includes an end to enforced social distancing, or the ‘two metre rule’, in all settings except for a few key places, such as ports of entry and medical settings. There will also no longer be a legal requirement to wear a face mask in any setting, although the government still advises wearing a mask in crowded, closed spaces. Capacity caps on all businesses will be lifted.
The Health Secretary also told Parliament that working from home was no longer necessary from 19 July.
Build UK are currently reviewing the Site Operating Procedures following this announcement.
Four week delay to final stage of Covid-19 Roadmap
14 June: The Prime Minister announced on Monday 14 June a four week delay to the fourth and final stage of the Covid-19 Roadmap, to give more time to ensure the overwhelming majority of adults in the UK are vaccinated. Current restrictions are expected to remain in place until Monday 19 July, including working from home where possible. The move to Step 4 will be confirmed one week in advance.
There is no change for construction at this time and sites should continue to implement the Site Operating Procedures. The spread of the Delta variant has also delayed the government’s review into social distancing.
Scottish government has also indicated there will be a three-week delay to its plan to move to Level 0—which would mean Level 1 restrictions remain in place until 19 July.
Covid-19 Testing Update
25 March: The government has issued a clarification that anyone who receives a positive result from a lateral flow device (LFD) test undertaken at home should get a PCR test to confirm the result. However, if someone receives a positive result from a LFD test undertaken at a test site, a follow up PCR test is not required and the person is required to self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the test. Any company interested in offering workplace testing must register via the government’s online portal by next Wednesday 31st March and tests will be provided free of charge until the end of June. Build UK has produced a guide to workplace testing.
Open Letter to Scotland’s Construction Sector
25 February: Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart MSP, has published an open letter to everyone working in Scotland’s construction sector. It advises on the impact of the vaccination programme but the need for continued Covid-safe practice on construction sites.
New Devolved Nations Lockdowns
Scotland has entered a new national lockdown until at least 31st January. Scottish Government lockdown guidance states that you must work from home if you can. Construction and essential work in people’s home can continue.
Wales is currently in lockdown with ‘Alert Level 4’ restrictions in place, until they are reviewed on Friday 8th January. Welsh Government lockdown guidance confirms that construction and work in people’s homes can continue.
Northern Ireland is in lockdown, and restrictions will be in place until they are reviewed on 23rd January. They are, however, expected to remain in place until at least 6th February 2021. Construction and work in people’s homes can continue.
New English National Lockdown
6 January: England has entered a new national lockdown, with no set end date. Government national lockdown guidance makes clear that you must work from home where you can, but where it is unreasonable for you to do so you are permitted to travel to work. This includes construction and manufacturing.
Builder’s merchants and suppliers of building products are permitted to stay open.
Tradespeople can also continue to work in and around people’s homes.
Roofing contractors must continue to adhere to the guidance as set out in Guidance Note 14: Working during the Coronavirus and NFRC Covid-19 safe working checklist
Construction can continue in Tier-4
21 December: From Sunday 20th December, London and parts of the South East, and the East of England will move from Tier-3 (Very High Alert) to Tier-4 (Stay at Home) restrictions. The Tier-4 guidance is clear that where work cannot be undertaken from home, this can continue and workers should continue to travel to work. This includes construction, manufacturing and tradespeople working in other people’s homes, It is also permissible to continue to travel into a Tier-4 area from a Tier 1,2, or 3 area for work purposes, where this cannot be undertaken from home. Builder’s merchants can remain open, as long as they can do so safely.
Roofing contractors should continue to follow NFRC’s Guidance Note 14: Working during the Coronavirus as well as the NFRC Safe Working Checklist if working in someone’s home.
Covid-19 Winter Plan
23 November: The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, gave a statement to the House of Commons on Monday 23rd November outlining the government’s winter Covid-19 Plan, following the end of the nation-wide English lockdown on Wednesday 2nd December 2020. England will move back into a regional, tiered approach, from this date. However, regardless of tier, across all of England:
- The stay-at-home requirement will end, and travel will be permitted again, subject to guidance in each tier.
- Shops, personal care, gyms, and wider leisure sector will reopen.
- Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume.
- People will no longer be limited to seeing only one other person in outdoor public spaces—the rule of six will now apply outdoors as it did in the previous set of tiers.
Advice remains that everyone who can work from home should continue to do so, but where people who cannot do so, such as in construction or manufacturing, people should continue to travel to their workplace. Tradespeople can continue to work in people’s homes at all levels.
A summary of you can and cannot do in each tier can be found on gov.uk local restrictions page.
New restrictions in Northern Ireland
23 November: There will be new restrictions in place in Northern Ireland for two weeks from Friday 27th November. Construction and manufacturing will be able to continue, building suppliers and hardware stores can remain open, and tradespeople will be able to continue to undertake work in other people’s homes.
Furlough scheme extended to March 2021 and self-employment support increased
5 November: The Chancellor has announced a five-month extension of the furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) to the end of March 2021. Employees will be able to receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. Employers will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions for hours not worked. This follows an initial extension of the scheme to 2 December. This further extension is intended to allow businesses enough time to recover and get back on their feet, and will be reviewed in January to examine whether economic circumstances have improved enough to ask employers to increase their contribution.
The government has also announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80 per cent of trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.
On top of this, the government also announced:
- Cash grants of up to £3,000 per month for business which are closed.
- £1.1. billion for Local Authorities for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses.
- Plans to extend government-funded loan schemes and the Future Fund to the end of January.
- An extension to the mortgage payment holiday for homeowners.
- Up to £500 million of funding for councils to support the local health response.
- An increase in funding for devolved administrations from £14 billion to £16 billion.
CONSTRUCTION AND MANUFACTURING CAN STAY OPEN THROUGH NEW LOCKDOWN
1 November: On Saturday 31st October, the Prime Minister announced a four-week lockdown in England from 00.01 on Thursday 5th November until 00.01 on Wednesday 2nd December which will require people to stay at home and only leave for specific purposes such as exercise, education or medical reasons. However, in his statement the Prime Minister made clear that:
“Workplaces should stay open where people can’t work from home – for example in the construction or manufacturing sectors”
Tradespeople will also be able to continue to work in people’s home as long as neither they nor the householder have symptoms of Covid-19.
Hotels can remain open to provide accommodation for workers.
Construction firms are being encouraged to review their Covid-safe policies and encourage their workforce to ensure they are maintaining social distancing.
NFRC’s Guidance Note 14 continues to remains the primary Guidance Note for safe working during the Coronavirus pandemic
NFRC’s Safe Working Checklist should be used when working in people’s homes.
Welsh government announce ‘Firebreak’ lockdown
20 October: The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced a two-week national lockdown in Wales from 6pm on Friday 23rd October until Monday 9th November. The guidance states that:
- People must stay at home, except for limited purposes such as for exercise.
- People must work from home wherever possible.
- People must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with either indoors and outdoors.
- No gatherings will be allowed outdoors, such as Halloween or fireworks/Bonfire night or other organised activities.
- All non-food retail, hospitality businesses, including cafes, restaurants and pubs (unless they provide take-away or delivery services), close contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, and events and tourism businesses, such as hotels must close.
- Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will be required to close.
- Face coverings must be worn in indoor public spaces, which remain open, including on public transport and in taxis.
Construction sites and work carried out inside people’s homes can continue as long as sites are managed in a safe way.
NFRC members in Wales should continue to remind themselves of the NFRC’s Covid-19 Guidance Notes.
NHS Covid-19 app launches across England and Wales
28 September: People across England and Wales are being encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 app to help control the spread of the coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers continue to rise.
£2bn Kickstart Scheme launches
02 September: In order to help young people back into work and boost the UK economy, the government has launched a new ‘Kickstart Scheme’ for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit. The government will fund each ‘kickstart’ job, paying 100% of National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week. Employers will be able to top up this wage.
Government will also pay employers £1,500 to establish support and training for those on placement, as well as helping to pay for uniforms and other set up costs. More information about the Kickstart Scheme on GOV.UK website.
Changes to the furlough scheme
01 September: Government will now only pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will have to pay Employers NICS and pension contributions and top up employee’s wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the time they are furloughed. From October this will reduce down to 60% before the scheme is ended.
Green Homes Grant update
28 August: The Business and Energy Secretary, Alok Sharma is urging homeowners and landlords in England to see how they can benefit from the Green Homes Grant on the newly revamped Simple Energy Advice website. For those wanting to install energy efficiency measures through the scheme they must meet PAS2030:17 standards. We are currently seeking clarification on what this will mean for NFRC members.
List of travel corridors
22 August: The government has updated the list of travel corridors again this week. France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Aruba have now been removed, meaning that anyone arriving in England from these countries must self-isolate for 14 days. From 4 am on Saturday 22 August the following countries will be added:
- Trinidad and Tobago
- and Portugal will be added to the travel corridor.
To keep updated on this list and to find out more information on exemptions see Coronavirus travel corridors on GOV.UK website.
HSE Covid RIDDOR Report
21 August: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a report on the Covid-19 reports made by employers under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). Since 10 April 2020, there has been 7,971 notifications made to HSE and Local Authorities – 75% of these came from the health and social care sector.
Job Retention Bonus
18 August: In his ‘Plan for Jobs’ the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a new Job Retention Bonus to provide additional financial support for those employers who decide to keep on their furloughed employees in meaningful employment after the government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end on 31 October 2020.
This will be a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021.
To be eligible, employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. Employers will be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus after they filed PAYE for January and payments will be made from February 2021 onwards.
Self-Employment Support Scheme
17 August: From today, eligible individuals will be able to claim a second and final grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme if their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus since 14 July. This second grant, which is equivalent to 70% of average monthly trading profits for three months and capped at £6,570, can still be claimed if the first grant wasn’t accessed.
Construction Leadership Council publish new guidance on face coverings in England
14 August: The CLC propose that employers make available face coverings as a minimum where workers are not required to wear RPE for their specific task and their workplace meets all of the following criteria:
- an enclosed space;
- where social distancing isn’t always possible; and
- where they come into contact with others they do not normally meet.
Face coverings, face masks and respirators
27 July: BOHS, in conjunction with the Society of Occupational Medicine and the Institute of Occupational Medicine have produced a new one page info graphic explaining the differences and uses of face coverings, facemasks and respirators in respect of COVID-19.
Construction Talent Retention Scheme (TRS)
13 July: The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) have launched a new Talent Retention Scheme (TRS) modelled on a similar scheme in the automotive sector. This intends to retain talent in the construction industry by redeploying workers at risk of redundancy. Individuals can register with the portal, upload their CV and search for vacancies. Companies can use the portal to recruit new talent and advertise jobs. Members can register their interest for the scheme by emailing email@example.com
Trustmark Work Safe/Safe Work Campaign
3 July: Trustmark has launched a new campaign to promote safe working in and around people’s homes. Trustmark have created a three part guide for homeowners on what to do before, while and after a tradespersons come to do work on their home.
Transport for London (TfL) Construction Toolkit
3 July: TfL has published a toolkit for the construction sector which provides the latest travel advice for workers on sites across London. They have asked London based businesses to help by:
- Encourage workers to walk or cycle either all or part of their journey and help by providing lockers, showers and storage
- Change your operating hours or stagger shifts to avoid the busiest times of the network (05.45 – 08.15 and 16.00 – 17.00) and ensure any shifts starting and finishing around these times are allocated to workers who can walk or cycle
- Share specific travel advice with workers for areas of concentrated construction including Vauxhall/Nine Elms, Westminster, City of London, Canary Wharf and Stratford.
- Reducing and retiming goods and services to and from site to avoid peak times.
New CLC guidance on surety
2 July: The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has published new guidance on supporting SMEs to access surety. This document aims to provide companies with practical advice and considerations for discussions with brokers and providers when seeking bonds. It also includes recommendations on the information that should be collected and presented.
1 July: From today, businesses will be able to bring back furloughed employees to work part time. Companies will have the flexibility to decide on the hours and shift patters of their employees but the government will continue to pay 80% of salaries for the hours an employee does not work. From August, the level of government grant will gradually reduce, and businesses will be asked to contribute more. The scheme will remain open until the end of October.
Site Operating Procedures (SOP) Version 5
1 July: The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has published Version 5 of the Site Operating Procedures to reflect recent changes to social distancing guidelines introduced on 4 July.
Prime Minister announces £5bn investment plan
30 June: The Prime Minister has set out his plans for a £bn ‘new deal’ to build back better, quicker and greener. He announced that infrastructure and public sector construction projects would be accelerated including:
- £1.5bn on hospital maintenance and building
- £1bn on the maintenance of schools and new school buildings
- £12bn on affordable homes
- £83m for the maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities
- £900m for ‘shovel ready’ local projects in England
NFRC’s CEO James Talman has issued a response to the investment plan.
Two metre rule to change to one metre ‘plus’ from 4 July
23 June: The government have announced that from the 4 July the guidance on social distancing will slightly change. Where it is possible to stay two metres apart people still should. However, if this is not possible, the people should keep one metre distance, plus take extra measures to mitigate the risk such as:
- avoiding face-to-face contact
- limit the numbers of people in enclosed spaces
- improving ventilation
- using protective screens and face coverings
- keeping non-essential social spaces closed
- providing hand sanitiser
- and changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams.
We will update our Guidance Notes to reflect the changes in due course
Procurement Policy Note PPN 04/20 Recovery and Transition from Covid-19
22 June: The Cabinet Office has published Procurement Policy Note, PPN 04/20-Recovery and Transition from Covid-19. This extends the relief available to public sector suppliers under PPN 02/20 – Supplier Relief due to Covid-19 until 31st October 2020. This applies to all contracting authorities, including central government departments, executive agencies, non-departmental bodies, local authorities and the wider public sector. This states that these bodies must “continue to pay suppliers as quickly as possible, on receipt of invoices or in accordance with the pre-agree milestone dates, to maintain cashflow and protect jobs”.
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules has come to an end
15 June: To help manage the impact of Covid-19 on the road haulage sector, the Department for Transport introduced a temporary and urgent relaxation of the enforcement of both the EU an Great Britain driver’s house rules in England, Wales and Scotland on 23 March 2020. As of 15 June 2020 both of these relaxations have now ended.
CLC publish Trade Credit Insurance guidance
12 June: The Construction Leadership Council COVID-19 Task Force has published trade credit insurance guidance to support construction businesses in the construction and maintenance supply chain, including building merchants and suppliers. The guidance aims to provide practical advice and considerations for discussions with brokers and insurers when seeking trade credit insurance.
Checklists and Fake PPE
11 June: NFRC has issued two new Guidance Notes. Guidance Note 19 is a Site Operating Checklist to assist members in complying with current government and industry guidance on protecting your workforce whilst on-site during the pandemic. Guidance Note 20 gives advice on how to identify Fake or Illegal PPE.
Scottish construction sector moving towards Phase 2
11 June: The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced today that the Scottish construction sector will be able to move to Phase 2 in its Restart Plan.
- Phase 0: Planning
- Phase 1: Covid-19 Pre-start Site prep
- Phase 2: ‘Soft start’ to site works (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
- Phase 3: Steady state operation (only where physical distancing can be maintained)
- Phase 4: Steady state operation (where physical distancing can be maintained and/or with PPE use)
- Phase 5: Increasing density/productivity with experience
Moving to Phase 2 of the plan provides an opportunity for businesses to return to site work on a “soft-start” basis. It also allows businesses to undertake all forms of work in domestic properties.
To provide further assistance to those who will work on sites, Construction Scotland has issued a guide entitled Working on site during the COVID-19 pandemic: Construction Guidance.
The CICV Forum (which NFRC Scotland is an active member of) has developed more detailed guidance on returning to site safely
Face coverings to become mandatory on public transport
5 June: The Government have announced that face coverings will be required while using public transport in England form 15 June, to coincide with the next stage of easing lockdown restrictions. This will apply to all bus, coach, train, tram, ferry and aircraft travel. People should not use medical grade PPE masks for this, as these should remain available for frontline NHS staff.
Guidance still remains to work from home it you can and avoid public transport if possible. People should wash or sanitise before and after putting on their face covering, and avoid touching their covering when wearing it to avoid transmission of the virus.
Reverse Charge VAT delayed until March 2021
5 June: The Government have announced that Reverse Charge VAT will be further delayed by a period of five months from 1 October 2020 to 1 March 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19 on construction.
Construction Leadership Council publish Two Year ‘Roadmap to Recovery’
1 June: The Construction Leadership Council will today publish their ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ for the construction industry. This will is based on three phases:
- Restart: increasing output, maximising employment and minimising disruption
- Reset: driving demand, increasing productivity and strengthening capability in the supply chain
- Reinvent: transforming the industry, delivering better value, collaboration and partnersh.
Updates to Job Retention Scheme and Self Employment Income Support Scheme
29 May: The Chancellor today announced a number of changes to the furlough scheme:
- From August, employers will have to pay employers National Insurance Contributions and pensions contributions for furloughed workers.
- From September, employers will have to cover 10% of a furlough worker’s salary and this will increase to 20% from October
- The Job Retention Scheme will close from the end of October and the deadline to furlough any staff in 30 June
- from 1 July employers will be able to bring back employees that have been previously been furloughed for any amount of time or shift pattern, while still being able to claim grant funds for the hours not worked.
The Chancellor also announced an extension to the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS):
- The scheme will be open for a second and final round of applications in August
- The second grant will be paid in a lump sum, covering three months of average profits. This will be 70% of average profits up to £6,570, to align with the changes to the Job Retention Scheme
See "Chancellor extends Self-Employment Support Scheme and confirms furlough next steps" for more information on these announcements.
Safe return and restart
29 May: CICV Forum have issued a new document for construction in Scotland: Safe return and restart, Expanded Guidelines to Underpin Construction Scotland’s Safe Operating Guidance.
Construction to restart in Scotland
28 May: The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has announced that “from tomorrow, the construction sector will be able to restart site preparation, that’s the first phase of its restart plan. It will be required to consult further with government before moving on to the second stage of that plan”. Alongside this the Scottish Government guidance for construction sites has been updated.
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme Launched
26 May: The HMRC Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has been formally launched today. This allows employers with fewer than 250 employees to recover the costs of paying Covid-19 related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to two weeks. Employers can make their claim on the GOV.UK website.
Preparation for construction work to restart in Scotland from 28 May 2020
22 May: The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has confirmed that the advance preparation of non-essential construction sites in Scotland can begin from 28 May 2020. The Scottish government have also published its route map out of the crisis and will be publishing sector-specific guidance, including for construction next week.
NFRC Domestic Site Operating Procedures
22 May: NFRC have issued new Domestic Site Operating Procedures for members to follow when working in people's homes.
A similar version has also been produced for the CompetentRoofer competent persons scheme; and this has been covered in the National press (The Sun and The Mirror) gaining awareness amongst the general public.
Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
20 May: Government have increased loans for up to £200m for large businesses under CLBILS scheme.
Updated NFRC Guidance Notes
19 May: NFRC have updated three of their Guidance Notes in line with revised CLC Site Operating Procedures version 4:
CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) SELF-EMPLOYMENT INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME (SEISS)
15 May: Updated information on the Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
More flexibility in construction working hours
14 May: The government now expect local planning authorities to approve requests to extend construction working hours up to 9pm, Monday to Saturday.
New Trade Credit Insurance guarantee
13 May: The government have announced that they will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions that are currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance.
Government Job Retention Scheme extended to end of October
12 May: The Chancellor has announced that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended until October 2020. There will be no changes to the scheme until the end of July, but from August to October the scheme will allow for greater flexibility to support a transition back to work, such as being able bring furloughed workers back on part-time.
Employers will also be expected to stat sharing the cost of paying people’s salaries but workers will continue to receive the same level of support as they do now (80% of their salary up to £2,500).
More details are expected at the end of May
Key Worker Posters/Stickers for working in Scotland
12 May: CICV have issued NFRC-branded posters and stickers to assist key workers in Scotland to identify that they are carrying out essential work.
Government Guidelines to re-open society and the economy
12 May: Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Sunday 10th May, the Government have published its COVID-19 Recovery Strategy. NFRC will be reviewing all this revised infornation and publishing new guidance for the roofing industry shortly.
6 May: To benefit organisations that are not VAT registered, HM Government have announced that the purchase of PPE will be zero-rated for VAT for three months until 31 July 2020.
Supplier Trading Status
2 May: For many suppliers and merchants, it is increasingly "business as usual". We have therefore introduced a 'traffic light' system on the Supply Chain page to indicate their current trading status. This will be regularly update us as suppliers advise us of their status.
Working during the coronavirus outbreak Toolbox Talk: Now also in Polish
1 May: The NFRC's Toolbox Talk on 'Working During the Coronavirus Outbreak' as now also available to download in Polish: Praca Podczas Pandemii Koronawirusa.
Updated UK Government FAQs
1 May: UK Government have issued updated FAQs regarding working during the outbreak. This includes advice on "My boss is forcing me to go to work. What should I do?" If you have concerns that you are being asked to work on a site that you do not feel is safely following the latest Site Operating Procedures, please use our confidential reporting facility for assistance.
Working during the coronavirus outbreak
21 April: The NFRC Safety, Health and Environmental Committee have developed a Guidance Note (GN) and Toolbox Talk (TBT) to support contractors returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
7 April: Updated Procurement Policy Note (PPN) which sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current COVID-19, outbreak.
Job Retention Scheme
7 April: The Government have made more details of the organisations and employees that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies to, and the information you will need when the online portal becomes available to make applications.
Health and Safety Executive: Safe Working
6 April: A joint statement regarding working during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, has been released by the HSE, the TUC and the CBI and is intended to clarify their position regarding safe working practices.
Construction Industry Task Force
3 April: The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) issued a press release on the 3rd April announcing the formation of a Task Force ‘to provide a focal point for co-ordinating the industry response to Covid19, and to facilitate communication between the industry and Government.’
It states that its objective is ‘to sustain the industry through the current period when restrictions are in place, and to ensure that the industry is able to drive economic growth and prosperity in the UK once the virus has been beaten.’
NFRC has representation through its memberships of Build UK and the Construction Products Association (CPA) onto this Task Force. In addition it has strong relationships with several other bodies represented.
Advice in Scotland
3 April: New information to clarify instances where the advice for Scotland differs from the advice being issued by Westminster. Includes site closure recommendations and whose children can still attend school.
Updated Site Operating Procedures
2 April: CLC have issued an updated version of their Site Operating Procedures to be observed during the coronovirus outbreak. Following concerns raised by NFRC and other bodies, this revised guidance has been withdrawn and until further notice the industry should continue to comply with version 1 of the Site Operating Procedures.
Flexibility Around CSCS Cards
31 March: Information from Construction Skills Certification Scheme regarding impact of COVID-19 on CSCS cards and recommended temporary measures for sites.
31 March: Updated advice on the new HMRC job retention scheme intended to prevent people being made redundant.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme
27 March: the Government announced a scheme that provides a grant to the self-employed or those in a partnership worth 80% of an individual’s trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next three months. See our Financial Advice page for details.
Work carried out in people's homes
26 March: HM Government advised:
Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.
Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health guidelines, including maintaining a two-metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.
No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
Keeping Sites Operational
25 March: As members of Build UK the NFRC supports its position on Keeping Sites Operational.
24 March: On BBC Breakfast time Michael Gove said construction should continue on site so long as social-distancing measures were followed. On Good Morning Britain, Mr Gove provided further detail, saying that when a site is empty, construction workers could carry on, providing they adhere to social distancing. However, he said that if the repairs and maintenance of existing buildings where there are already families living in, they should not be having works done and workers should not be entering the site.
Some developers have taken the decision to close their sites. For the sites that are continuing to operate, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has published Site Operating Procedures during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic,developed by Build UK, to implement the Government’s social distancing requirements and minimise the risk of spread of infection. The NFRC recommends any contractor continuing to operate to implement these procedures to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus.