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The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on all of our lives. We are here to support you and your business during this difficult and uncertain time.
Since the start of the outbreak, the FMB has prioritised ensuring our members have the right information to keep safe and to keep their business on track. We know small builders were affected hard by the first lockdown, with 96% of FMB members having to stop some or all of their work.
Through our coronavirus hub we have shared tailored guidance, resources such as contracts, reminders of our member helplines and other support services, as well as the latest official advice where you live. We have also made sure that governments across the UK have heard the call of small builders. Working collaboratively across the construction industry we have made the case for financial support for small businesses, for sites to remain open safely, for a focus on the repair, maintenance and improvement sector, and an assurance that we will build back better and greener.
With new variants emerging and the virus still circulating, we urge all FMB members to continue to operate with caution and with the safety of others in mind, following the latest government advice at all times. We will keep these pages up to date. See What are the rules where I live for the latest in your area.
The FMB sits on the leading construction industry bodies that are working with the governments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
This guidance sets out advice to members and their clients about what steps they may want to think about when starting or restarting a building project during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The guidance is based on three principles:
As always, all activity should be underpinned by open communication and collaboration. This guidance is aimed at members working in the domestic sector and is a framework to help businesses decide whether work can be carried out safely on their specific site, and what steps they might consider putting in place as they return. You should check official sources of information before making any decisions about how to proceed, and you should keep the situation under review. There are links to that advice throughout this document.
FMB members also have access to our specialist advisors. Please log in to the members area to access helpline numbers or call 0330 333 7777 for further information.
With the virus continuing to circulate, it remains important to stay safe on site. Our new interactive half hour course for members has been developed in line with current Public Health and industry guidance. It will provide you and your team with health and social distancing guidance and a downloadable FMB certificate on completion. If you have not accessed our elearning portal before please contact us on 0330 333 7777 or email us for a login.
Governments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are responding to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. Construction work, whether work inside people’s homes or housebuilding, can continue, with everyone paying attention to the latest COVID-secure guidance. From mid-January, employers throughout the UK can get help with the costs of Statutory Sick Pay paid if an employee has to take time off because of COVID-19. Find out how to claim on the GOV.UK website.
You should follow the latest advice and guidance where you work.
Following the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant, England has adopted Plan B measures and the COVID threat level has risen to four – this means that there is a high or rising risk of transmission. In practise, this means:
General advice to wash your hands frequently, keep your distance where possible, and ventilate rooms, remains, alongside a drive to get more people vaccinated and boosted remains. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has also produced updated site operating procedures protecting your workforce during Covid-19 and has also advised that in crowded and enclosed sites, and where workers come into contact with others they do not normally meet then face coverings should be worn.
You should also follow the latest UK Government advice.
At present, there are no imposed restrictions on undertaking building work within people’s homes. See the links below for further guidance:
The Scottish Government confirmed that from Monday 18 April:
FMB Members can continue to refer to a close working checklist to help construction professionals plan for projects that involve close contact in enclosed conditions. This checklist was produced by the CICV Forum in Scotland.
On 28 January, Wales moved from Covid Alert Level 2 to Level 0.
The Welsh Government has produced guidance on what businesses, employers, organisations, activity and events organisers in Wales must do at alert level 0 to comply with the regulations.
Before you start or restart work you will need to:
Liaise with your suppliers and workers to check whether they are able to meet your requirements. The FMB contracts are based on the parties working together on a project, and that includes finding solutions to this unexpected and unpredictable situation. You will need to cooperate with your clients, staff, suppliers and subcontractors.
Agree any changes to your FMB contract on the works period or completion date, price for the works, quality of materials due to limited supplies, working hours or methods to reflect the requirements above and remobilisation costs. These should be recorded in writing and signed by both parties using the FMB Change of Works Form (available on the Contracts page in the Members’ Area). Other forms of contract will have similar mechanisms for dealing with changes.
Ensure your client understands the uncertain nature of works and that you have recorded any assumptions that are reflected in your revised date, price, quality, or other statements. FMB members can contact the FMB Dispute Resolution Team for advice if they are unable to reach agreement with their client.
Communicate with your client what you will both do in the event that future restrictions are placed on the works or your site that may prevent works being carried out or cause further changes to the time, cost or quality you have listed in your changes.
Continue to communicate clearly, openly and regularly as the situation is still changing. You should inform your clients of any unforeseen problems or delays as early as possible and discuss how these affect your clients’ aims for the project. You should do this remotely in order to maintain social distancing.
You should have notified your insurer that you were stopping work, and you will also need to notify them that work has restarted. Specifically:
You may need to notify your bank if you have obtained funding to finance the project.
If you are going to return to work, what precautions can you take to protect yourself, your workers and clients?
While many legal restrictions, including the 2m rule, have been (or are due to be) lifted, official guidance remains to limit the close contact you have with those who you do not normally live with. This is relevant when working in people's homes.
Please also see our new elearning module on staying safe on site during COVID. This half hour course for FMB members has been developed in line with current Public Health and industry guidance. It will provide you and your team with health guidance and a downloadable FMB certificate on completion. If you have not accessed the elearning portal before please contact us on 0330 333 7777 or email us for a login.
Carry out a risk assessment: As the responsible contractor and employer, your risk assessment will be your starting point. It is vital that the risk involved in each job is assessed and documented, and that key considerations to do with health, safety and welfare are the primary concerns for any work you undertake. Legally, only employers with more than five employees are obliged to produce a written risk assessment, but the FMB would encourage all members to keep a written note of their assessment of the risks involved in the work. This will mean that you can more easily share your findings with others, including workers, and that you can demonstrate the steps you have taken if there are any incidents that could lead to an investigation or insurance claim in the future. No one can completely eliminate risks, but it could be very important for you to show how you have done everything reasonably practical to minimise the risks, using sensible measures and following advice and guidance.
Keep following existing legal obligations: Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment, or equality law, and it is important that you continue to comply with these.
Include your workers in the process: It is important to take a collaborative approach with workers when assessing risks and proposing measures to mitigate them. Employers must engage with workers, or workers representatives in order to agree any changes in working arrangements. Your workers are able to choose their own representative, employers cannot decide who the representative will be. The aim is to have clear and consistent communications, to achieve understanding and compliance. It is good practice to have workers confirm in writing that they have received and understood information about such changes.
Resources to assist in assessing risks: To help, you can download the FMB's basic risk assessment Word template or find more comprehensive templates in our Document library (available to FMB members only).
Some actions to consider: In producing your risk assessment you should follow the commonly used hierarchy of risks:
Eliminate the risk – can the risk be eliminated, for example by not carrying out a particular task?
Reduce the risk – for example by using social distancing and good hygiene.
Isolate the risk – for example by limiting work to very small teams who stay together.
Engineered controls to reduce risk – such as physical barriers.
Administrative controls to reduce risk – such as staggered breaks or start times.
Using PPE to reduce risk, which should be the last resort, not a substitute for other measures.
Once you have completed your risk assessment, you should regularly review and update it as the situation changes.
21 July 2021: As lockdown restrictions ease, many of the COVID-support packages are winding down. If you’ve been using one of the schemes, it’s important to ensure that you’re using it correctly and are aware of any upcoming changes.
We've produced a summary of key points for homeowners if they are considering whether to start or continue with building works in their home at this time. Additional information for homeowners is available in our Building during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic guide.
Official advice is changing often, and this list is not exhaustive, so you should check official sources of information before making any decisions about how to proceed and keep the situation under review. This document offers general guidance only. FMB members can contact our advisors for help with a specific enquiry. The advisory helpline numbers are in the Members’ Area. If you require support with accessing FMB membership benefits, please call the Membership Team on 0330 333 7777, or email [email protected].
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