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NAS Statement on Coronavirus

Earlier this year, the NAS launched its new core values of: Promote, Support, and Develop. 

While we are no doubt living through an unprecedented set of circumstances, we believe that our new values remain just as relevant today as they were before the Coronavirus outbreak. We are therefore making the commitment that we will:

  • Promote our member’s best interests at this difficult time. We will amplify their voice and ensure that their concerns are heard.
  • Support their businesses and employees through advice, guidance, and our targeted membership benefits.
  • Develop our members through webinars and e-learning.

We don’t want to become an alternative to official channels – or dilute their important messages – so we will only communicate where we feel it will add value to our Members, and the sector more broadly. In the meantime, for accurate and up-to-date advice, please visit the following official websites:

  1. GOV.UK – Support available for businesses
  2. GOV.UK – How to access financial support
  3. Scottish Government – Support for businesses
  4. HMRC – Tax helpline for businesses
  5. Money Advice Service – Advice on help/deferral of mortgage payments
  6. Universal Credit – Claiming benefits for Coronavirus
  7. Build UK – Construction site operating procedures
  8. GOV.UK – Decontamination of non-healthcare settings
  9. GOV.UK – Guidance for households with possible Coronavirus infection
  10. NHS – For advice on symptoms and staying at home
  11. Click here for Training/CITB/Apprenticeships (and more) daily updates from NAS Training Manager
  12. Build UK – Guidance on contractual issues caused by Coronavirus

Advice and News relating to Coronavirus

Tuesday 2 June 2020
Construction Leadership Council’s Roadmap to Recovery published
The plan was published yesterday and was collaborated on with a wide range of industry representatives. It is designed to ensure there is a sustainable recovery for the construction industry.

 

Tuesday 26 May 2020
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has launched

The online service for the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme has launched today, enabling employers with fewer than 250 employees to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus‐related SSP. Employers can claim for periods of sickness covering up to two weeks starting on or after:

  • 13 March 2020 ‐ if their employee(s) had coronavirus or the symptoms, or was self‐isolating because someone they live with had symptoms
  • 16 April 2020 ‐ if their employee(s) was shielding because of coronavirus.
Tuesday 19 May 2020
Changes to site operating procedures

Changes to the Site Operating Procedures ‐ Version 4 are minimal and include:

  • Removal of the requirement for face‐to‐face contact to be kept to 15 minutes or less
  • The section on PPE now links to the latest Government guidance on face coverings
  • References to one‐way systems and the reconfiguration of seating and tables and an update on portable toilets
  • The requirement to share risk assessments with the workforce
  • Clarification on when to travel to work, as set out in the Government’s COVID‐19 Recovery Strategy
  • Updated links and wording on social distancing.
Tuesday 12 May 2020
Furlough scheme extended

The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October, the Chancellor announced today. The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of this month.

UK Government’s Working Safely during Coronavirus guides released

The Government has produced eight guides which cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides to keep you and your employees safe.

Open Doors – accommodation for construction workers

Build UK’s Open Doors website has more than 340 accommodation providers across the UK and Ireland for anyone working away from home who needs local accommodation.

Monday 11 May 2020
UK Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy released

Following the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday evening, the Government has released its Covid-19 Recovery Strategy – Our Plan To Rebuild. The strategy makes reference to “Covid-19 Secure Guidelines” – new safety guidelines which will be released later this week that set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely. We will share these once published.

Monday 4 May 2020
Bounce Back Loan Scheme opens

The Government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme has opened for applications today. This scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 (Note: you cannot apply for this if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme).

Tuesday 28 April 2020
Chancellor announces Bounce Back Loan Scheme

A new Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses has been announced. 

  • Small businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 from an accredited lender and access the money 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 online using a short and simple form, from Monday 4 May.

The new scheme will run alongside the existing schemes, such as Business Interruption Loans, provided by the Government due to Coronavirus.

Thursday 23 April 2020
A reminder of Government key measures for Businesses including Grants, Loans and Tax Relief

Please find helpful guidance from Build UK below.

Cash flow is now critical and the Government has made available an unprecedented level of financial support for businesses and individuals affected by coronavirus (COVID‐19). Make sure you are taking advantage of the support for your business:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ‐ Employers can claim 80% of an employee’s monthly wages, up to a maximum of £2,500, plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, by placing them on furlough leave. The online claims service is available now and the Government has published step by step guidance on making a claim. Claims should be paid within six working days.
  • Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme ‐ Employers with fewer than 250 employees, as of 28 February 2020, can recover the costs of paying SSP to employees for sickness absence due to coronavirus or self‐isolation for up to 2 weeks from 13 March 2020. The online system is not yet available so make sure you are keeping records.
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme ‐ Small and medium‐sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, can access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years. The Government will make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender‐levied fees, meaning no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. Apply now from an accredited lender by following the steps on the British Business Bank website and there is guidance from ICAEW on preparing a strong application.
  • Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme ‐ Large businesses with an annual turnover of more than £45 million can apply for up to £25 million of finance (or £50 million for those with an annual turnover of more than £250 million). Apply now from an accredited lender by following the steps on the British Business Bank website.
  • COVID‐19 Corporate Financing Facility ‐ Large businesses which make a material contribution to the UK economy can purchase short‐term debt in the form of commercial paper to finance their short‐term liabilities. Apply now through the Bank of England.
  • Deferral of VAT ‐ UK VAT‐registered businesses which have a VAT payment due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 can defer the payment until on or before 31 March 2021. You do not need to tell HMRC that you are deferring payment and you will still need to submit your VAT returns on time. If you normally pay by Direct Debit, you should cancel it by contacting your bank. Further information about how to repay the deferred VAT will be available soon.
  • Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) ‐ Eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) are eligible for a payment of £10,000. Companies that are eligible will be contacted by their Local Authority to arrange payment.
  • Coronavirus Future Fund ‐ UK‐based companies which rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme can receive Government loans ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. The fund will be launched in May 2020.

To determine which support your business may be eligible for, visit the Government’s Business Support Finder and provide a few key details about your business, such as size, location and turnover.

Tuesday 21 April 2020
Job Retention Scheme has launched
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was launched yesterday, which should help to provide some relief to businesses. Serah Goldsworthy of SGHR Associates has supplied a helpful FAQ sheet for NAS Members on this subject.
 
Wednesday 15 April 2020
Updated Site Operating Procedures

Build UK have released the third version of the Construction Site Operating Procedures, for those who are still working on site. They can also be found at no.7 in the official links above. 

Monday 6 April 2020
Follow up webinar with Citation

Our second webinar with Citation this Thursday 9 April will offer further critical updates on the recent emergency measures introduced by the UK Government for workers being laid off, furloughed or even dismissed as a result of Covid-19. Register your place here.

Friday 3 April 2020
Mental Health and Wellbeing

As well as our webinar next week, we have also shared 8 tips to look after your mental health and wellbeing during Covid-19 on our blog.

Thursday 2 April 2020
Webinar with Blue Lobster Therapy: Mental Health and Wellbeing

Hear from Alana Warburton-Whitehead, founder of Blue Lobster Therapy, an NAS Approved Training Provider. The webinar will focus on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and during the current lockdown. Join us on Tuesday 7 April by registering your place here.

Monday 30 March 2020

Recording of Webinar with Citation

Thank you to those who joined us for our webinar with Citation last week which covered Government support schemes for businesses and how to implement them. The recording of this webinar can now be found in the Members Area of our website. 

Friday 27 March 2020

Further guidance on Furloughed workers, and support for the Self-Employed

The Government have issued further (more detailed) guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or Furloughed workers) on its website,  in addition to information about support for self-employed workers.

Thursday 26 March 2020

CITB Levy suspended

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has announced that it will be suspending the issuing of its levy bills, due for payment in 2020, for an initial period of three months. Read more here.

Model letter for furloughing workers

You can find a model letter for furloughing workers here.

Job retention scheme and Furloughed workers

Please find guidance on these topics here.

Guidance on contractual issues 

Please refer to this document by Build UK for guidance on contractual issues including force majeure.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Government help for businesses

This document sets out the schemes offered by the Government in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Webinar with Citation: Covid-19. 2020 a year of unprecedented change

Get the answers you currently need about Government support for businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak, and how to implement this. Join us on Thursday 26 March for our first, free webinar jointly presented by the NAS and our Associate Member, Citation, who are H&S, employment law and HR specialists. Register here.

Thursday 19 March 2020

Working from Home

With more people currently working from home than possibly ever before, we have shared some tips for employers and employees on how to maintain productivity and team collaboration.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

CSCS/SICCS Cards

The growing concerns surrounding Coronavirus are likely to impact the issuing of CSCS cards. This will also affect SICCS cards that are issued by the NAS. A key requirement for all applications (new or renewal) is proof that the applicant has passed the relevant CITB Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) test. However to contain the spread of the virus, some test centres have started to limit the number of tests they deliver. Find out more here.


IR35 deferral

HM Treasury confirmed last night that the introduction of the IR35 reforms to the private sector will be deferred until April 2021, due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. More information here.

Monday 16 March 2020

Mitigating the impact on your business and employees

We’ve been asked for some general advice from our Members about managing the impact of Coronavirus.

It’s fair to say that this is a rapidly developing situation – with the Government now confirming that they will provide daily briefings to update the public about the virus. We will continue to monitor the news and offer guidance when we can.

In the meantime, there are some general steps that you can take to try and mitigate the impact on your business and employees (courtesy of our partners, Build UK). We recognise that not all of these steps will be appropriate, or feasible, but we’ve listed them in full for your consideration.

  1. Increase welfare and hygiene facilities to protect your workforce
  2. Liaise with clients on contingency arrangements
  3. Review contractual arrangements to understand options now and in the future
  4. Liaise with funders and banks to secure sufficient credit
  5. Contact HMRC on 0800 0159 559 to discuss arrangements for delaying payment of taxes
  6. Set up project specific communication networks with your supply chain
  7. Review safety critical elements of projects
  8. Review programmes
  9. Ensure remote access is in place, where possible
  10. Offer those with the ability to work from home the option to do so
  11. Protect business critical functions such as payroll and accounts departments
  12. Split teams to avoid everyone becoming ill at the same time
  13. Reduce contact between leadership teams
  14. Cancel or move meetings and overseas travel to conference calls or online meetings

If any of our Members would like help achieving any of the above, please let the team know and we will do all we can. Communication at this time is key. We can help set up conference calls, or other remote working facilities to help you, if you are unsure or do not have the means to do this.

It is well known that the construction industry suffers from higher than average mental health problems – and the uncertainty at this time will no doubt be another contributing factor. Many people will be concerned about their financial situation; the future of their business, their employer, and their job.

Membership of the NAS comes with a number of benefits that can help at this time – including dedicated helplines that can support your business and employees. In particular, we would like to remind our Members that the NAS provides an Employee Advisory Helpline to all members (and their employees) that provides 24-hour confidential counselling and advice services 365 days a year. If any members would like more information about accessing this service, please get in touch.

In addition, the World Health Organisation has also provided this general advice for looking after your mental health:

  1. Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that could cause you to feel anxious or distressed – limit the news and be careful what you read
  2. Seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans to protect yourself and your loved ones – take breaks from social media
  3. Seek information updates at specific times and stay connected with people
  4. Wash your hands, but not excessively
  5. Avoid burnout – AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries:

a. Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.

b. Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.

c. Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.

d. Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.

e. Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.

26 February 2020

Steps for Employers

Our first published advice on Coronavirus, provided by Serah Goldsworthy of SGHR Associates, can be found here

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