Responding to Coronavirus (Covid-19)
CORONAVIRUS LATEST FeRFA UPDATE
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30/07/20 LATEST NEWS
From 1 August 2020, the level of grant available under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be reduced each month. In August, employers will still be able to claim 80% of a furloughed worker’s wages; however, they will now have to pay National Insurance and pension contributions.
The deadline for submitting claims for furlough periods ending on or before 30 June is this Friday 31 July. If you have over-claimed through the scheme, you can repay your grant by either correcting it in your next claim or making a repayment to HMRC if you are not making another claim.
With hotels reopening across the country, the Open Doors website will now only be used for areas of localised lockdown to ensure construction workers can still find accommodation in these areas. The site currently provides details of five hotels in Leicester, for example.
Scotland moves to Phase 4
Construction sites in Scotland have now been given the go ahead to progress to Phase 4 of the Construction Restart Plan, which is steady state operation with physical distancing being maintained or controlled close working with PPE. Following confirmation that the supply of medical-style PPE to the NHS and social care is assured, the guidance from Construction Scotland is that the wearing of medical-style PPE can be added to the range of control measures available.
New measures to stimulate construction
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has announced a number of new policies, which are intended to support construction activity. These include:
- Changes to Use Classes Order ‐ From 1 September 2020, a number of existing uses will be condensed into a single commercial, business and service use, which means that planning permission will not be required for changing use going forward.
- A new permitted development right ‐ From 31 August 2020, commercial buildings will be able to be replaced with residential buildings using a streamlined prior approval process, rather than a full planning application. The system will include a number of qualifications.
- Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme ‐ A new £3 billion scheme will increase investment in providers of affordable housing and support the delivery of a significant number of new affordable homes.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published the draft Building Safety Bill, which sets out wide‐ranging measures to keep residents of high‐rise buildings safe. These include establishing a new Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to oversee more stringent rules for such buildings. Further information can be found in the latest Grenfell Update from Build UK.
Build UK has published an executive summary of the National Infrastructure and Construction Procurement Pipeline 2020/21, to help the industry understand recent Government announcements on the delivery of £37 billion of economic and social infrastructure projects. It shows a breakdown of 340 public sector contracts by sector, together with when they will actually be awarded.
Cost Assessment Toolkit
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has published a Cost Assessment Toolkit to help the industry assess and forecast the cost implications of disruption due to coronavirus, in order to make more informed investment decisions.
Public transport opens up further
Although people travelling to work are still being encouraged to use alternative means of transport where possible, commuters and others may now use public transport in England for any journey. Face coverings are mandatory on public transport in England and Scotland (and in Wales from 27 July) and travellers should maintain social distancing where possible.
Transport for London (TfL) continues to encourage people to avoid using the network during peak times (05:45 – 08:15 and 16:00 – 17:30) and has published a construction toolkit with guidance for businesses.
Build UK has released a short film, which summarises what the industry has been through over the last few months and how we can, if we really want to, transform construction.
FeRFA supports Construction Talent Retention Scheme
FeRFA is supporting the newly-announced Construction Talent Retention Scheme and is also encouraging its member businesses to get involved.
- This Scheme is designed to keep skills in the sector, matching displaced workers with employers seeking new staff
- It is based on a proven model which has safeguarded talent in other sectors
- It is supported by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and all leading sector trade bodies
The Scheme is a partnership between the Government and industry designed to ensure the retention of skills in the UK construction sector.
Due to launch formally later this month, the Construction Talent Retention Scheme will comprise an online portal which supports the redeployment of staff at risk of redundancy across the sector, while also enabling temporary employee loans between businesses. The Scheme gives displaced workers from other sectors a route to find new employment in construction.
It is a not-for-profit free-to-use programme with funding from BEIS secured until the end of the financial year, providing an online platform for any organisation looking to hire, while ensuring that candidates’ skills and experience are given a prominent profile within the industry.
Businesses can register their interest in the scheme on the Talent Retention Scheme website.
Deadline for SEISS claims is next Monday
The deadline for eligible individuals to claim their first grant under the Self‐Employment Income Support Scheme, worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits for three months up to £7,500, is next Monday 13 July 2020.
Individuals will also be able to claim a second and final grant from 17 August, where they can confirm their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus from 14 July. The second grant will be equivalent to 70% of average monthly trading profits for three months, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £6,570. Individuals will be able to claim for the second grant even if they did not make a claim for the first one.
Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Jobs’
This week’s Summer Economic Update contained a number of measures of interest to our sector.
- The ‘Job Retention Bonus’ – a one-off £1,000 bonus for employers for each furloughed employee who is still employed on 31 January 2021.
- The £2 billion ‘Kickstart Scheme’, aimed at creating new jobs for young people aged 16-24.
- £2,000 grants for businesses who take on apprentices below the age of 25.
- £111m in increasing traineeships.
- £17 million of funding to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in 2020-21.
- Nearly £900 million to double the number of work coaches to 27,000.
- Over a quarter of a million more young people to benefit from an extra £32 million investment in the National Careers Service.
Full details of the all the measures announced can be found on the Government website.
SITE OPERATING PROCEDURES v5
The Construction Leadership Council has introduced an updated version of the Site Operating Procedures for construction sites. The main change has been made in order to reflect the latest Government guidance on social distancing, which comes into effect in England from Saturday 4 July. The ‘one metre plus’ guidelines require workers to stay two metres apart, or one metre with risk mitigation where two metres is not viable.
Other changes to the Site Operating Procedures ‐ Version 5 are minimal and include:
- Updates to the ‘When to Travel to Work’ section
- The latest peak times for public transport
- Entry systems to be regularly cleaned rather than between each use
- Drivers to have access to welfare facilities
- Canteens that have been closed or offered a restricted service may now re‐open.
It should be noted that the changes to the social distancing regulations are not set to apply initially in either Wales or Scotland.
The Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum leads the sector in Scotland and has relevant information on its website.
Relevant information for Wales can be found on the Welsh Government website.
Latest news on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
‘Flexible furloughing’ comes into effect today. This allows employers to bring furloughed employees back to work for any number of hours or any shift pattern, whilst still claiming the grant for hours not worked. Flexible furloughing agreements must be for a minimum of one week and confirmed in writing. Guidance is available for employers, along with an online calculator to help with working out claims.
Build Build Build!
The Government has announced a £5 billion programme of brought-forward capital investment projects to support jobs and the economic recovery.
The Prime Minister has stated the ambition is to build better, greener and faster and Chancellor Rishi Sunak will chair a new taskforce known as Project Speed. The investment in infrastructure will include the following elements which are of interest to the resin flooring sector:
- £1.5 billion this year for hospital maintenance
- Over £1 billion to fund the first 50 projects of a new ten‐year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020‐21
- £560 million and £200 million this year for repairs and upgrades to schools and FE colleges respectively
- £142 million for digital upgrades and maintenance to around 100 courts, £83 million for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities, and £60 million for temporary prison places
- £900 million for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next.
NEW GUIDANCE ON CJRS
Recently the Government has issued updated guidance relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This includes advice on how the scheme is going to change on 1 July, from when employers will be able furlough staff flexibly
- From now on employers can only furlough an employee who has previously been furloughed. The exception is employees returning from statutory maternity and paternity leave, provided that their employer has previously furloughed other employees.
- Employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and on any work pattern while still claiming grant for the hours not worked. Flexible furlough agreements must be for a minimum of one week, and employees can enter into a flexible furlough agreement more than once.
- From 1 August, employers will have to contribute towards the cost of furloughed employees’ wages.
- When making a claim, employers will need to provide the number of hours an employee would have usually worked as well as the number of hours they actually worked. There is an onlineCoronavirus Job Retention Scheme calculator which will be helpful when it comes to working out claim amounts for flexible furloughing.
Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund
Small businesses in England that have not been able to get support from other sources may be able to apply to The Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund. This is designed to assist small businesses with their ongoing fixed property‐related costs. Local authorities are offering grants of up to £25,000 based on economic need.
Staged introduction of Brexit changes
January to July 2021 will see a staged introduction of border controls for EU goods imported into Great Britain. This will give businesses affected by coronavirus more time to prepare. The new UK Global Tariff (UKGT) will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff from 1 January and there will be changes to customs requirements, tariffs, and checks at entry ports. Companies are advised to identify the materials and products that they and their supply chains import and the implications of the new requirements.
Ending of drivers’ hours relaxation
FeRFA members involved in logistics should be aware that the relaxations that were introduced on drivers’ hours have now ended.
To help deal with the unprecedented consequences of the outbreak of COVID-19 on the road haulage sector, the Department for Transport introduced a temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of both the EU and GB drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales back in March.
These relaxations have now ended. Full details can be found on Gov.uk.
REMINDER! Face coverings now mandatory on public transport
From today face coverings are compulsory on public transport in England to help reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus, when social distancing is not always possible. Anyone using public transport who does not wear a face covering could receive a fine.
Other guidance regarding travelling is available on the Gov.uk website.
ENGLISH AND WELSH CONSTRUCTION SITES NOW BACK IN BUSINESS
Many resin flooring contractors who were working on construction sites before lockdown will now be back at work. Latest figures from Build UK show an improving picture of productivity at construction sites in England and Wales. Contractor members of Build UK have reported this week that almost all of their sites are now open.
97% of infrastructure and construction sites are operating, up from 93% a fortnight ago. Output continues to rise slowly, with infrastructure sites achieving 89%, up from 85%, and construction sites improving from 74% to 78%.
Members that include housing in their portfolios have confirmed that 93% of housing sites in England and Wales are now open, up from 68% a month ago, with output rising from 53% to 78% during that period.
In Scotland however just 21% of projects are running and output is at 27%. The Scottish Government is currently implementing Phase 1 of its COVID‐19 route map through and out of the crisis, which aligns to Phases 0 and 1 of the Construction Re‐Start Plan developed to get the industry back to work safely.
However it is not until Phase 2 of the Construction Re-Start Plan that work will begin to be carried out within physical distancing parameters. Tomorrow (11 June) is the earliest that there could be an update on when sites might be able to open.
Those who are now working once again on-site should ensure that they are operating within the guidelines of Version 4 of The Site Operating Procedures.
Temporary changes to environmental regulations
Operators who hold environmental permits are being allowed to store additional waste, beyond what their permits normally allow.
This follows publication by the Environment Agency (EA) of a new Regulatory Position Statement. Operators taking advantage of this will need to demonstrate a need due to COVID-19 restrictions and that the wastes being stored are authorised under the permit.
CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME AND SELF-EMPLOYED SCHEME BOTH EXTENDED TO OCTOBER
The Chancellor has announced extensions to both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. The extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will enable employees to continue to receive 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month until the end of October 2020.
There will be no changes to the scheme until the end of June. It should be noted however that the final date an employee can be furloughed for the first time is 10 June.
From July employers have the option to bring employees back into the workforce part-time. They will have to pay salaries for the days that they work, while the Government will continue to pay full employment costs for the days they are furloughed.
Between August and October, when the scheme will end, the level of furlough will gradually taper off and employers will be responsible for making a larger contribution. By October the Government will be paying just 60% of employees’ wages for the days that they are furloughed.
Full details of the changes to the scheme can be found on the Gov.uk website.
The website also has details of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which is also being extended. Eligible individuals will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profit, and capped at £6,570 in total. Build UK has a fact sheet on the SEISS, which can be found on their website.
New survey on the construction workforce from Build UK
Build UK has asked FeRFA to share the CLC People Survey with members. To help understand the implications of a reduced workload on the construction workforce, including apprentices and graduates, the CLC is asking all employers to complete the survey. It should take no longer than 10 minutes and the information provided will be confidential with no company details required. The deadline to complete this is Friday 5 June.
Latest construction industry output figures
Build UK had updated the data for sites open and construction sector output in the last few days. These figures can be found here.
The return to work
The latest data from Build UK Contractor members on sites open and output is available here.
If members are able to provide information on sites which are now open, as well as output figures, that would help Build UK to build up a picture across the supply chain. To make it easier to compile this data, there is a survey which FeRFA members are encouraged to complete, from which a summary will be created. Click here to partake in the survey.
CITB assistance with new site operating procedures
To help employers implement the new version of the Site Operating Procedures, CITB has produced some checklists which are designed to make this easier:
- CC01: COVID‐19 ‐ Site operating procedures compliance checklist: An interactive checklist to protect the workforce on site
- CC02: COVID‐19 ‐ Health, safety and environmental risk assessment template: A guide and template on control measures for those undertaking risk assessments of the workplace and specific activities on site
- CC03: COVID‐19 ‐ A toolbox talk for construction workers: Designed for managers and supervisors to deliver health and safety information and engage the site workforce in the Site Operating Procedures
- CC04: COVID‐19 ‐ Weekly site operating procedures checklist: An interactive checklist to ensure ongoing compliance with procedures.
CITB restarts HS&E testing
Following the Government announcement on 10 May regarding easing the lockdown, CITB is re-establishing Health, Safety and Environment testing operations in England. The majority of Pearson Professional Centres in England are now operational again. To find your nearest test centre and confirm whether it is open, visit the booking website, select the test you wish to take and entre your postcode.
The Internet Test Centre (ITC) network is being reintroduced on a one-by-one basis, once they have confirmed that they can implement social distancing measures.
The reintroduction of testing will assist CSCS’s ability to issue cards, since it is a key requirement for all applicants (new or renewal) that they have passed the relevant CITB Health, safety and environment (HS&E) test within the last two years.
For further information from CITB, visit the COVID-19 page on the CSCS website.
New guide on the ‘Safe return to work’
With increasing numbers of sites returning to work, insurance specialist and FeRFA member COBRA has published a new Guide entitled ‘Safely returning to work after lockdown’.
The Guide has been designed as a resource to assist in the return to work and to support businesses in the planning and the protocols required in order to prepare and safeguard employees and the business itself during the return to work process. It should be read in conjunction with the Government’s latest advice as well as any sector specific advice for your industry.
The document includes a full checklist of processes to be carried though to enable a safe return to work and also a listing of useful resources for businesses.
The COBRA Guide can be downloaded from the FeRFA website.
Open Doors website now a comprehensive resource
Workers in the resin flooring sector who have to work away from home during the current situation will find that Build UK’s Open Doors website is now a very useful resource.
It offers over 27,000 beds across the UK and Ireland for construction and key workers. If you require accommodation and none is shown locally, you can send Build UK the site postcode or location. Working in partnership with trade body UK Hospitality, Build UK is adding further providers where there is demand.
Site Operating Procedures Version 4 published
The Construction Leadership Council has now published Version 4 of the Site Operating Procedures This is to take into account the revised guidance on Working Safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Construction and other Outdoor Work, which was issued by the Government on 11 May.
There are relatively few differences contained in the new Site Operating Procedures, the most notable being the removal of the requirement for face-to-face contact to be kept to 15 minutes or less.
SEISS claims portal is now open
The claims portal for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme opens today.
Potential applicants can check their eligibility online. Those who are eligible will be given a date and time from when they can submit their claim. The earliest claims are being submitted today and in order to receive the money this month, applicants will be asked to get their claims in during the next few days.
This SEISS offers a taxable grant to those whose businesses have been adversely affected by coronavirus. The grant amounts to 80% of average trading profits over the past 3 years, up to a maximum of £7,500. HMRC says it will be paid in a single instalment within six working days of a claim being completed.
Although it has been announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to be extended until October, the Government is yet to clarify whether this extension also applies to the SEISS.
The Recovery Strategy
The ‘UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy‘, announced in the last few days, has been put together with input from the construction industry. The Strategy focuses of course primarily on health, while also protecting the economy and employment, as well as seeking to ensure that public services can be funded as we come out of the crisis.
As more people go back to work, there is new guidance on Working Safely with Coronavirus (COVID-19). This document covers different sectors of the economy, including Construction. The Construction Leadership Council is likely to introduce a new version of the Site Operating Procedures this week which will take into account the updates in this document.
There is as yet no requirement for construction workers to wear face coverings or other PPE. However the guidance says that employers should support their staff in wearing PPE if they choose to do so.
Construction Sites Gradually Reopening
The results of the most recent Build UK member survey show that construction sites are gradually reopening in England and Wales. Overall 76% of sites in England and Wales are now operating.
The sites with the highest operating rate are those relating to infrastructure. The housebuilding sector has the lowest proportion of operating sites.
Overall productivity stands at 48%. While England and Wales, including London, have seen significant increases in productivity, the overall figure is dragged down by the low levels of productivity in Scotland, due to the Scottish Government’s instruction that sites, apart from those involved in essential work, should not be operating.
It is to be hoped that the figures for the UK as a whole will continue to improve, in view of the Government’s desire to ease the current restrictions. This will only happen if the figures on the number of infections support it – and everyone in the construction sector can play their part by ensuring they follow the Site Operating Guidelines.
Read the full statistics here.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
This scheme is now open for prospective claimants to check their eligibility online.
Go to the SEISS page on Gov.uk for all information about the scheme. Note that this also confirms that all grant received will be subject to Income Tax and Class 4 National Insurance Contributions. Further information about the taxation aspects can be found on the Chartered institute of Taxation website.
Accommodation for Construction Workers
For construction workers who have to stay the night away from home, the Open Doors website, created by Build UK and UK Hospitality, now offers significantly expanded coverage, with accommodation options in all regions of the UK. The system is taking bookings and can be used by anyone in the construction supply chain.
The website also lists sites which are in need of accommodation. If none are shown locally, details of these can be sent to Build UK with the site postcode, so that providers can be added where there is demand.
Accommodation for construction workers
Build UK says there are now almost 140 accommodation providers listed on its Open Doors website. Together they are offering over 10,500 beds across the UK and Ireland to construction workers working away from home. The system is now taking bookings and can be used by anyone in the construction supply chain.
The website is also listing sites which are in need of accommodation. If none are shown locally, details of these can be sent to Build UK with the site postcode, so that providers can be added where there is demand.
Eligibility checker for Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) now open
Self-employed workers, in the resin flooring sector can now check online at the Gov.uk website that they are eligible to claim SEISS.
This scheme pays 80% of profits, averaged over three years, to those whose businesses have been affected by coronavirus, up to a maximum of £7,500. The scheme, which is administered by HMRC, only pays out to those whose trading profit is less than £50,000 annually, who derive the majority of their income from self-employment and who can show at least one year of accounts.
As well as establishing eligibility, the website performs a number of identity checks and takes contact details, providing a date later in May when the claim can be made. It does not inform claimants how much they are entitled to.
HMRC says it has got the necessary systems in place ahead of the original deadline and that those eligible will receive the money into their bank account by 25 May or within 6 days of making their claim.
Bounce Back Loan Scheme now open for applications
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is the latest business support scheme from Government and it is now open for applications. The scheme enables businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 at a 2.5% interest rate, capped at 25% of turnover, with no fee to access the scheme.
The Government guarantees 100% of the loan and there will not be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months
Loan terms can be up to six years and no repayments will be due during the first 12 months.
Eligible business must be based in the UK and must have a business bank account. They must have been negatively affected by coronavirus and must have been trading on 1 March 1 2020, and not have been an ‘undertaking in difficultly’ as of 31 December 2019.
Companies who wish to apply will find a list of lenders on the British Business Bank website.
Latest advice on tax issues
Build UK has made new advice available for business owners who are concerned about tax issues. Produced in partnership with KPMG, the new web page contains details on all the key tax measures introduced by the Government.
- Deferring tax payments under the ‘Time to Pay’ scheme, including corporation tax and income tax payments due on 31 July;
- Business rates and property-related grants;
- VAT payment deferral.
Full information can be found on the Build UK website.
VAT abolished on PPE until 31 July
The Government has abolished VAT on sales of PPE from 1 May to 31 July 2020. Although primarily designed to assist VAT-exempt care homes, the measure will benefit all purchasers of PPE, on which the standard VAT rate is 20%. The aim is to relieve the financial burden on frontline workers and other users of PPE during the coronavirus crisis.
Further details are on the Gov.uk website.
Accommodation Assistance For Workers Who Have To Stay Away From Home
Build UK has launched a website to help workers find accommodation if they have to stay away from home overnight.
The initiative comes at a time when a severe lack of hotel rooms for travelling construction workers, including those in the resin flooring sector, is proving a major problem, as more sites look to restart.
Accommodation providers of all kinds have been closed since the lockdown started, with the only exceptions being key workers – and the key worker list only includes construction workers involved in infrastructure repair work. However resin flooring contractors are now coming under pressure from main contractors to return to site, and this is sometimes not possible due to lack of accommodation.
However now anyone looking for a bed for the night can use the Open Doors website to find accommodation providers who have space for construction workers. The website is live but is still a work in progress carrying limited information currently, since accommodation will continue to be added.
If there are sites that require accommodation and none is shown in the right area, they are welcome to send Build UK the site postcode or location so that providers can be added when there is demand. Contact details are on the website.
Construction Workers Eligible For Covid-19 Testing
The Government has now clarified that coronavirus (COVID‐19) tests are available to anyone who travels to work because they cannot work from home and is showing symptoms of coronavirus.
Crucially this specifically includes construction workers, which has not been clear until this week’s update.
It also includes people who live with such workers, if they also have symptoms.
There are two different ways in which a test can be arranged:
- Self-referral – workers and members of their households who have symptoms can book a test directly using the online system.
- Employer referral – employers can refer workers for a test via a secure portal.
Full details regarding both methods of referral can be found here.
New Business Support From Government
The Government has announced a new support package for business. This is the Government-backed Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses which will open for applications on Monday 4 May.
The scheme will sit alongside the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and will enable small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 from an accredited lender and access the cash within days. The Government will pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months, as well as providing lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan.
No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. Loans can be applied for by filling in a straightforward online form and the Government says applications will be processed quickly. The detail about the Bounce Back Loan Scheme can be found on Gov.uk.
CFJ May Available to Read Online
The May issue of Contract Flooring Journal is now available to read online. Click here to read the issue.
Update on contractual challenges created by COVID-19
Build UK has drawn attention to the latest version of its Guidance on Contractual Issues Caused by Coronavirus. This update emphasises the need for a collaborative and long‐term approach to completing projects, and is probably relevant for many in the resin flooring sector.
Drawn up by Build UK and London law firm Wedlake Bell, the Guidance will provide some clarity in a situation where ‘force majeure’ could be interpreted as an unforeseeable circumstance which changes the performance of contractual obligations. The main message is that all parties should speak to each other to find solutions to any issues. Since the whole industry is in the same situation, it is in everybody’s interests to do so.
CSCS Cards – expiry grace period extended
Those in the resin flooring sector who wish to apply for or renew their CSCS cards may have found that they are currently unable to sit their HS&E tests due to the closure of Pearson Vue HS&E test centres and Independent Test Centres.
In recognition of the fact that COVID-19 will prevent workers from meeting CSCS’s card application requirements, the industry is being asked to support the following temporary measures:
- Employers and those responsible for site access and card checking procedures should use their discretion towards workers whose cards have expired since March onwards. But a worker must always hold the correct card for the job they do on-site.
- CSCS has extended the grace period for card renewals from 6 months after the card expires to 12 months. This means that the card can be renewed, once the CITB HS&E test has been passed, up to one year from the card’s expiry date.
CITB has launched a temporary “LITE” version of the HS&E test. This is not accepted by CSCS to issue a card and should only be seen as a temporary measure for those employers needing to determine a worker’s health and safety knowledge. Further details of this are on the CITB website.
CSCS will continue to monitor the situation and where necessary introduce further proactive measures to limit the impact on CSCS applicants and the wider industry. Further information is available on the CSCS website.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
Although most focus this week so far has been on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which was launched yesterday, businesses with a turnover of up to £45m should be aware that the Government loan scheme designed to help them is already in operation.
CBILS enables businesses which fall into this category to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to six years. Full information is on the gov.uk website.
Assistance for businesses from Companies House
Build UK has today drawn attention to a couple of initiatives from Companies House, designed to lighten the load during the coronavirus crisis.
Firstly, the companies regulator is temporarily pausing the strike-off process, to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they need to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register.
Additionally since 25 March companies have been allowed a further three months to file their annual accounts. This is designed to help businesses prioritise the management of coronavirus impacts on their operations. Further info here.
15/04/20 UPDATED SITE OPERATING PROCEDURES NOW AVAILABLE
The Construction Leadership Council has made available a new version of the Site Operating Procedures, designed to keep construction sites, including resin flooring work, operational in a safe manner during the coronavirus pandemic. FeRFA has been instrumental in helping develop the latest version, via its discussions with Build UK.
The document is based on Public Health England guidance on social distancing and has support from across the industry, as well as from Government.
The most important updates in the new version of the document are:
- Confirmation that the HSE is the enforcing authority for the Public Health England guidelines;
- A requirement for sites to monitor the implementation of the procedures;
- Further details on who should not travel to work;
- Guidance for those who have no option but to share transport to work;
- Planning of work to avoid close working;
- First aid and emergency service issues.
The guidance in other countries of the UK may differ from the above. The latest guidance in Scotland can be found here.
The latest guidance for Wales is here.
The latest guidance for Northern Ireland is here.
Be assured that throughout this period all the normal FeRFA contact details are still operational and our office is fully resourced, although our staff are working remotely. Please contact us with any queries you might have on firstname.lastname@example.org.
FeRFA pushes Government for industry support
FeRFA is currently involved in weekly calls with Build UK, helping to develop an industry response to the coronavirus crisis and working with partners to secure the most effective support for the resin flooring industry. The collective views of Build UK are taken up by the Construction Leadership Council Task Force, which meets daily and provides a communication channel directly into Government. FeRFA is therefore ensuring that the views of its members are represented at the highest level in working to resolve the coronavirus crisis.
Construction Sites in Scotland
The Scottish Government has taken a more rigorous approach to the closure of building sites than has been applied in the UK. It has now published guidance on what it considers to be essential projects and those that are non-essential and should not be working at this time. Projects which are related to the fight against Covid-19 are among those which can continue. These measures will be reviewed in three weeks.
Network Rail Supplier Payments
Any FeRFA members involved in Network Rail projects will be interested to know that Network Rail has committed to move to immediate payments for its suppliers. This means that payments to SMEs will be seven days quicker and payments to other suppliers will be up to 28 days quicker. Read the full details here.
Further Updates on Job Retention Scheme
Following queries from industry, the Government has issued further clarifications regarding implementation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will be of interest to employers in the resin flooring sector who are getting involved in the scheme.
The Government hopes to launch its online service for the Job Retention Scheme by the end of April. Once the portal is live, employers will need to submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings. The Government says it aims to pay the first grants by the end of April.
Businesses which need more immediate support may be able to benefit from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which is delivered through the banks.
Employers whose businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and who wish to take advantage of the Job Retention Scheme, can furlough employees and apply for a grant for up to 80% or £2,500 per employee per month, whichever is lower. This is in addition to costs such as Employer NI and minimum auto enrolment contributions. If they wish, employers can top up individuals’ salary, however they will not be able to claim for anything above the 80%. Whilst on furlough individuals should not provide any services for the business.
How to Claim
The grants should be claimed for the date the employee finishes work and starts furlough, not when the decision is made or confirmed to the individual in writing. The company will need to keep records of the employees being furloughed and these should be kept on file for up to 5 years. The gov.uk website additionally states that companies can claim for “any regular payments you are obliged to pay your employees. This includes wages, past overtime, fees and compulsory commission payments. However, discretionary bonus (including tips) and commission payments and non-cash payments should be excluded”.
What types of employees can be claimed for?
Employees can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible, fixed or zero-hour contracts. Foreign nationals are eligible to be furloughed.
Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train whilst furloughed, however whilst they are training employers should pay at least the Apprentice National Minimum Wage, National Minimum or National Living Wage, whichever is appropriate, for the time spent on training. The Government says: “This means you must cover any shortfall between the amount you can claim for their wages through this scheme and their appropriate minimum wage”.
The grant can also be claimed for employees who fit into the following group, if they are paid via PAYE:
- Office holders such as Directors
- Salaried members of limited liability partnerships
- Agency workers
- Limb b workers
The minimum length of period an individual can be furloughed for is three weeks. When they returned to work they must be taken off furlough. Employees can be furloughed multiple times, however each occasion should be for the minimum period of three weeks.
Working for other employers
If allowed within the contract of employment, employees are permitted to work for another employer whilst they have been furloughed.
Employees who left the company after 28 February
If an employee was either made redundant or they stopped working for the employer after 28th February, employers can re-employ them and place them on furlough. Any employee, taken on after 28th February will not be eligible for the scheme.
Any employees that started unpaid leave after 28th February can be claimed for under the scheme. Employees who are in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay, cannot also be furloughed, however once their claim for SSP has ended they can be placed on furlough.
Employees who are shielding or who are staying at home with someone who is shielding, in line with public health guidelines can be furloughed if they cannot work from home and if the employer would otherwise have made them redundant. Employees unable to work, as they have caring responsibilities due to the effect of COVID-19 can be furloughed.
Latest Government Guidance
As a reminder the latest guidance from Public Health England and from BEIS for both employers and employees can be found on the gov.uk website. This was most recently updated on 6 April.
Be assured that throughout this period all the normal FeRFA contact details are still operational and our office is fully resourced, although our staff are working remotely. Please contact us with any queries you might have on email@example.com
01/04/20 INSURANCE UPDATE FROM COBRA INSURANCE
Employers Liability Insurance
UK Employers’ Liability Insurance is designed to provide cover for an Insured’s legal liability for injury arising out of the Insured’s actions or failures to act where a duty of care is owed.
If an Employee suffers death, disease, illness or injury as a result of an Employers negligence, they may look to bring a claim against their employer. However, the employee in question will need to prove their employer breached that duty of care and that in turn led to said injury, disease or illness. For example, an employer failing to undertake adequate risk assessments or providing adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
If a legal liability were to be established, a UK Employers Liability policy is designed to respond in accordance with the terms, conditions and exceptions of the policy.
To protect your employees and your business consider the following points if employees have to work:
- With the requirement of 2m distancing, can employees travel in separate vehicles?
- Can you equip your vehicle with suitable hand cleaning products and sanitiser?
- Do employees have access to suitable rest areas where they can be 2m apart?
- Have you undertaken adequate risk assessments regarding social distancing?
- Have you provided and obtained signed acceptance of adequate/suitable PPE to employees?
- Consider how manual handling of large items can be undertaken to allow for social distancing?
- Do you have a suitable cleaning regime for shared company vehicles?
- Can tools and plant be cleaned adequately to protect employees?
- If employees use public transport can they travel outside of peak times?
- Is shift working possible to reduce numbers on site at any one time?
- Do you have suitable systems to dispose of used PPE?
Public Liability Insurance
UK Public Liability Insurance is designed to provide cover for an Insured’s legal liability for injury and/or damage to third party person/s and/or their property arising out of the Insured’s actions or failures to act where a duty of care is owed.
If a third party such as a customer or member of the public suffers death, disease, illness or injury as a result of a companies’ negligence, they may look to bring a claim against the company. However, the person/s in question will need to prove the company breached that duty of care and that in turn led to said injury, disease or illness. For example, proving that they contracted the disease either whilst at a contract site under the companies control or from the contractor working in their property.
To protect your customers, members of the public and your business, consider the following:
- Restricting access to contract sites for customers. If access is vital, providing suitable PPE and communicating your safe distancing protocol to them at site induction or before the visit in writing
- Introduce a safe delivery area, where suppliers can deliver to the site whilst maintaining safe distancing, ensure delivery driver wears suitable PPE before unloading
- If handing a site back to a customer, ensuring a suitable cleaning regime is introduced to ensure site is clean and safe.
- Ensure any waste PPE is safely stored away from Public Access and disposed of correctly.
Business Interruption Insurance
The core purpose of Business Interruption Insurance is to respond to losses sustained as a consequence of an insured material damage loss, for example, following a fire or flood at an insured premises. Some policies may also include extensions for losses following certain events where there is no physical damage, albeit these are usually subject to lower limits and typically for losses occurring at the insured’s premises or within a specified distance thereof.
With the Coronavirus one of the key triggers will be whether the policy includes a “Contagious diseases”, “Infectious diseases” or “Notifiable diseases” section/extension of cover. There are two issues, one is that these extensions are rarely included under in a construction policy and secondly if they are included is insurers all having differing definitions/listings of what diseases are included and/or are potentially included.
Many insurers list of specified diseases mirror those listed as notifiable under “The Health Protection (Notification) Regulations” at a particular point in time, and do not necessarily reflect the current list or include Coronavirus (COVID-19). Whilst some insurers have a wider, more favourable definition of notifiable diseases, and will include cover (albeit almost certainly restricted to whatever inner limit is stated in the policy). Any potential cover for a reduction in profit from contract sites would rely upon both a contract site and a notifiable disease extension being included within the extensions on your policy.
If in any doubt, contact your insurance broker or insurer to establish the cover you have in place.
Directors & Officers Liability Insurance / Employment Practices Liability Insurance
For any company there is always a possibility that claims may arise against directors and offices in the event a business is considered to have inadequately prepared itself to handle how an outbreak may affect the business. Even prior to the current lockdown in the UK, you may have seen examples of businesses such as Facebook restricting social visitors to its offices, and others such as Pfizer, Microsoft and Apple warning shareholders about the impact Coronavirus will likely have on their operations and results.
Insurers would expect policyholders to take appropriate prudent measures to protect both their employees and the business. For example, organisations should be reviewing their current plans or put plans in place by establishing a pandemic coordinator or team to focus on this issue (including addressing such issues as protecting customers and staff and securing supply chains where appropriate).
Any claim brought by an employee (against their employer) for breach of employment law would ordinarily be the subject of a claim under an Employment Practice Liability Insurance policy, for example, an employee claiming for wrongful termination. Employers should check whether they have such coverage in place (it may be arranged in isolation or as part of a Management Liability policy).
Construction Site Closures
Whether planned or unplanned, a construction shutdown can have a significant impact on a project’s potential for loss. The following resource offers guidance on how to maintain site safety and security during periods of inactivity.
Conducting a risk assessment is the critical first step to prepare for a shutdown. The risk assessment helps determine potential exposures to loss and serves as the foundation of your site control plan.
The assessment should involve a documented inspection to identify conditions that could result in loss during the shutdown. Examples may include material storage, points of access to the job site and immovable equipment. Be sure to consider different types of losses, including bodily injury, property damage and construction defects. Take photos and/or videos, and keep detailed notes documenting the pre-shutdown condition of the job site.
Site Access and Security
Determine the extent of activity that will need to take place during the shutdown. If work will continue intermittently, create a list of personnel authorised to access the site. Share security and safety protocols with all affected parties. Identify the resources needed during work activities, such as on-site power, water supply, equipment and safety gear.
If no work will be performed during the shutdown, the assessment should provide an estimated site closure and reopening time frame.
Use and maintenance of surveillance systems; site inspection frequency and responsibility; coordination between trades; emergency communications; location-specific exposures (weather, theft/vandalism, accessibility to emergency responders); anticipated shutdown; and reopening procedures.
Site Control Plan
Once the risk assessment is complete, develop and implement a written site control plan. The plan should address all areas of concern identified in the risk assessment, such as the examples provided below.
Materials and Equipment
Reduce or eliminate material inventory and make alternative storage arrangements. Redirect or cancel incoming deliveries. Materials left on-site should be properly protected, inventoried and catalogued. Use a protective film or wrap over materials stored outdoors to minimise contact with moisture. Protect immovable materials with a secured tarpaulin cover.
Implement enhanced controls when storing critical equipment like switchgear or materials with a long lead time. Secure tools and equipment in locked containers or sheds. Keep high-value commodities out of view. Coordinate with subcontractors to ensure that nonessential tools and equipment are removed from the project, if possible.
Once the site reopens, inspect all materials and equipment prior to use. Dry out or replace materials exposed to moisture. Be sure to conduct a thorough inspection of systems installed prior to the shutdown to verify they are in good condition and operational. Remove or repair damaged materials, as needed.
Extended project shutdowns provide unique exposures for cranes. Secure cranes from unauthorised access. Lower lattice boom cranes and fully retract telescopic booms. If booms are left in the air, initiate a process to check for boom creep, eroding ground conditions, vandalism, etc., and monitor weather that may require lowering booms. Tower cranes are required to weathervane unless approved by manufacturer. Don’t leave equipment or supplies hanging from cranes. Consider gas tank locks on equipment. Consider returning rental equipment to suppliers. Cranes should be removed from low-lying areas.
Review the project’s fire prevention plan and document specific actions taken to remove, isolate and protect fuels, combustibles and flammables. Identify sources of ignition such as electrical systems and temporary heating. Ensure that all fire detection and suppression systems are in place and monitored.
Equipment Stability and Ground Conditions
Inspect all excavations, trenches and site drainage areas. Backfill or cover and secure all open excavations. Eliminate any potential for trench collapse. Verify that all scaffolding is secured and inaccessible. A competent person should inspect scaffolding through the duration of the shutdown before and after weather events.
Water and Weather Intrusion
Identify personnel responsible for monitoring weather throughout the shutdown. Establish protocols for weather event responses, including communication to impacted trades.
Confirm that all buildings are weather tight, with windows and doors securely boarded up. Inspect permanent and temporary roofs to ensure that they can properly protect against the elements. Inspect all water removal gutters, downspouts and drainage systems, including drain guards. Seal or install curbs on all slab penetrations to prevent floor-to-floor water transmission.
Maintain all documentation related to the shutdown with the job file, including risk assessments, inspections, photos, notes, control plans and correspondence with project personnel throughout the inactive periods.
Other Insurance Considerations
Working from Home
With many employees working from home there are two main issues, one is to ensure you notify your insurers if the employees have taken work property home, to ensure there is cover in place for your property, in the construction industry this could possibly extend to tools, plant and materials. The second is to ensure that if the staff are clerical in nature that their work area is safe and that you check in with them regularly to make sure they are OK, working from home can be stressful especially if the house has many occupants.
Employees should also check that their home insurance does not prohibit home working and/or notify insurers where appropriate.
Tools & Equipment
If employees are not working and unable to return tools and equipment to your premises, ensure the tools and equipment are stored in a safe and secure location and not left in vehicles for a prolonged period of time, establish where they are storing the equipment and that the security is sufficient. Advise your insurance broker or insurer.
Many businesses and employees are offering their services as NHS Volunteers, some will be offering home based calls whilst some will be offering to deliver supplies or food. The latter presents two issues, firstly cover under motor insurance if using company vehicles, some insurers are agreeing to this use as it is voluntary, but suggest you contact your insurance broker or insurer for verification. The second issue is cover for employees carrying third party persons and/or delivering supplies or equipment if done so as part of a company volunteering to help. If they are carrying out deliveries and collections, risk assessments will need to be done for tasks such as manual handling, getting in and out of vehicles, and loading/unloading vehicles. You will also need to notify your Liability insurers, so they are aware of the changes.
Closure of Contract Sites
With many contract sites closing, questions arise regarding insurance cover. Most contract works policies contain two significant areas with regards to this, one relates to cessation of work over 90 days, whilst we are currently looking at only 21 days, this is something which may need further action if we get close to 90 days. The second important area is the reasonable protections condition, which ordinarily would expect plant to be removed from site, ideally to own premises, and hired plant to be off hired to plant hirer, and finally materials stored securely and the site left secure so third parties cannot gain access.
With own premises left unoccupied whilst people are working from home, you should notify your insurers to ensure that full cover is maintained during this period, and ensure that all other policy terms and conditions applicable (such as security conditions) are met.
Cybercrime has been a big topic for the past few years with claims rising rapidly. With many staff working from home, IT security and controls can become relaxed, especially if staff are using their own computers to connect to your systems. Cyber criminals will undoubtedly see this relaxation of security as an opportunity and look to target businesses. Staff should be reminded to vigilant when opening e-mails and also when downloading software or files to equipment which connects to your servers as they could accidentally introduce viruses or malware, crippling your systems at such a critical time. If Cyber insurance is already in place insurers should be advised with regard to any changes to your normal security protections, to ensure this does not compromise existing coverage.
30/03/20 LATEST NEWS ON CORONAVIRUS FOR THE RESIN FLOORING SECTOR
Update to Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Government has advised that businesses furloughing staff during the coronavirus outbreak will receive further financial support. The costs of employer national insurance and pension contributions will now be covered by the Government, in a move which could save businesses £300 a month per employee. Further information is available on the gov.uk website.
Update on Guidelines for working on Construction Sites
For the time being construction sites are able to keep operating, provided they operate to the Construction Leadership Council’s guidelines on safe working. Some sites have shut down voluntarily. However Build UK has issued an update to the above guidelines, which provide further advice on their safe implementation.
For those sites that are still operating, HR Specialists Stallard Kane have produced a Risk Assessment, which should be observed to avoid the spread of Coronavirus in any work place. This document, along with others from Stallard Kane, can be found on their Coronavirus Advice page.
Extra Support for the Self-Employed
There are now measures in place to support self-employed workers in our sector. These workers will now be eligible for a taxable direct grant amounting to 80% of their profits, with a cap of £2,500.
Their self-employment must form the majority of their earnings and they should be able to show accounts for the previous three years – and the payments will be calculated on average profits over those three years. The Chancellor said that new entrants to the trade with only one year of accounts will still be able to apply.
The scheme will last three months initially and the money will be paid in a lump sum in early June. It will be administered by HMRC and those eligible will be contacted automatically, meaning there is no need to apply.
In announcing the measures, the Chancellor admitted that traders who were new in business and did not yet have any accounts would have to be reliant on the social security system.
Accounts and Tax
The Government has announced that from 25 March 2020, businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts.
This joint initiative between the Government and Companies House will enable businesses to prioritise managing the impact of Coronavirus. Full info is available here.
The Government is also permitting postponements of all VAT payments for the next three months until the end of June 2020. VAT returns still need to be submitted however.
Be assured that throughout this period all the normal FeRFA contact details are still operational and our office is fully resourced, although our staff are working remotely. Please contact us with any queries you might have.
26/03/20 LATEST NEWS ON CORONAVIRUS FOR THE RESIN FLOORING SECTOR
Site Operating Procedures
At the present time, many construction sites are continuing to operate, although there is now mounting pressure to close them down, apart from those involved in hospital building. Construction workers heading to their jobs have been cited as one of the reasons why the tube in London has continued to be too crowded for ‘social distancing’ to be practised.
So while flooring contractors are still at work, their sites should strictly follow the Site Operating Procedures, developed by Build UK to limit the spread of Coronavirus. The Construction Leadership Council has also said that if construction workers cannot maintain two metres social distancing during their journey to site, then they should not go to work.
Flooring contractors, who are laid off, either now or in the event of a wholesale closure of construction sites, should visit FeRFA’s Coronavirus support page for information on how they can get support.
In order to protect businesses which might be under cashflow pressure in the present circumstances, the Government is preventing the eviction of commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent due to coronavirus.
This new measure, included in the emergency Coronavirus Bill, will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months.
Regarding commercial insurance, unfortunately most commercial insurance policies do not cover pandemics or unspecified notifiable diseases, such as COVID-19. However, those businesses which have an insurance policy that covers Government-ordered closure should be able to make a claim (subject to the terms and conditions of their policy). Insurance policies differ significantly, so businesses are encouraged to check the terms and conditions of their specific policy and contact their providers.
News for Apprentices
As you are aware, the UK Government and the NHS have been providing the public with regular advice and updates regarding the evolving situation around COVID-19. We have been advised that all training and testing which is classroom or test centre based should be temporarily suspended. CITB strongly recommends that all ATOs cease face-to-face training, which is what we are doing. For courses that are part way through, we are suspending the course and will reschedule once the current restrictions are lifted.
We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis and, as Government advice changes, will communicate any changes to our recommendations to you.
Remember that throughout this period all the normal FeRFA contact details are still operational and our office is fully resourced, although our staff are working remotely. Please contact us with any queries, suggestions and also any specific issues you want us to take up with our partner organisations in the construction industry.
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