Company outlines steps being taken to safeguard jobs and maintain operations
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Willmott Dixon is following the Government’s advice that construction work, as a key part of the UK economy that cannot be delivered from home, should continue.
The company has around 90 per cent of its projects operational, although like other major contractors, it faces growing supply side challenges in securing trade and material resources which are having an impact on efficiency and output.
The company is ensuring the Site Operating Procedures produced by the Construction Leadership Council, in collaboration with Public Health England, are stringently implemented within its existing H&S protocols governing safe site activity. This includes working closely with supply chain partners and other stakeholders to agree practices and programmes to create a safe environment.
To further protect jobs during the current period of restricted movement required to defeat Covid-19, Willmott Dixon is using the option of furloughing some of its people who are unable to carry out their normal job. So far, over 400 of Willmott Dixon’s people have volunteered to be furloughed to support the company, with a similar number of colleagues joining them this week on the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.
These temporary measures to furlough people will be reviewed at the end of May as the company takes the required action to safeguard the long-term future of its people during the current period.
Group chief executive Rick Willmott says, “The battle to defeat Covid-19 has created an enormous challenge, one which is going to test us all immensely as we strive to protect jobs and be as resilient as we can be to the worst effects of the situation.
“While we had to take the tough decision of asking for volunteers to join the furlough process, I was deeply touched by the large number of colleagues who responded. We appreciate the decency and understanding of everyone who has been through this process; it is our intention to get everyone back to work as quickly as possible.”
“While we don’t know how long this will last, taking the action to furlough some of our people now will help us ensure that we emerge from this in good shape and ready for the future after the pandemic is over.
“Our position from the start of this crisis has been that we must continue to build wherever we can do so, safely and within the prescribed guidelines. I welcome the Government’s proactive support in the last week and its recognition of how construction is making a ‘hugely valued and critical contribution to the resilience of our Nation'*. With most of the industry returning to work, the focus must be on re-engaging with material producers and suppliers where we have seen a marked reduction in capacity in the last two weeks; without their support, outputs will not recover in the short-term.”
Willmott Dixon continues to work with industry bodies to support the process of engagement with materials suppliers to ensure they can increase production to meet demand.
BuildUK produced a survey in early May on construction site output across the industry here.
extract from a letter dated 31 March by Business Secretary Alok Sharma - below.