Working in the UK construction industry during the coronavirus pandemic (updated 31/3)

25th March 2020

Georgina Dietrich, a pupil barrister at 3PB, writes about the practical and legal challenges facing those working in the construction sector during the current pandemic.

Read the full article here: Legal and practical challenges of working in the construction industry during the coronavirus outbreak (First published on 25/3. Updated on 31/3).

In summary - 30 March 2020: As the world goes through the different phases of Covid-19, the message in the UK was clear – you must stay at home, unless you have one of four reasons to leave your property: shopping for groceries or essentials; any medical need, which includes providing care or help to a vulnerable person; one form of exercise per day; or travelling to and from work, if it is absolutely necessary and you cannot work from home.

On 24 March, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that building sites should be shut in Scotland, unless they involve an essential building, such as a hospital. In Downing Street Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that construction workers, many of whom work outdoors, could and should continue working, provided they can remain two metres apart at all times. The dilemma faced in the construction industry is that a significant number of people simply cannot work from home and many workers will not get paid if they do not show up for work. This sector is also unusual because of its high proportion of self-employment (36%).

As a growing number of construction sites are closing to protect workers, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has introduced an Income Support Scheme for the Self-Employed which will offer a direct cash grant of 80% of profits (up to £2,500 per month) for at least three months to those who have had a trading profit under £50,000 per annum for the last three years.

To qualify, more than half of your income for each of those years must have come from self-employment. To minimise fraud, the government has decided to limit the scheme to those who are already in self-employment and were trading last year, i.e. excluding the newly self-employed. HMRC will identify eligible individuals and start payments in the beginning of June, backdating payments until March 2020 (please click here for more information).

Whether you are a self-employed worker on site, a small or medium sized contractor, or a main contractor, Covid-19 has and will continue to impact the industry you operate in. This information bulletin looks at some of the legal and practical challenges and solutions you may wish to consider during these testing times, such as:

  • protection of workers
  • contractual performance
  • managing the risk of insolvency.

Read the full article here: Legal and practical challenges of working in the construction industry during the coronavirus outbreak (First published on 25/3. Updated on 31/3).

Find out more about 3PB's construction barristers here.