Persimmon plans ‘phased restart’ of construction
Persimmon has become the latest housebuilder – following Taylor Wimpey and Vistry – to announce plans to restart work on its construction sites.
The company also revealed that it has not furloughed any staff.
Persimmon said that having closed down its sites and sales offices from 25 March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it would now try to help get the construction sector back to work in line with the government’s objectives, while ensuring that workers maintain social distancing practices.
It said it had been using the shutdown to work with staff, subcontractors and suppliers, to develop and test a range of new site protocols to enable work to restart, that comply with UK government and Construction Leadership Council guidance.
Meanwhile, its staff have continued to work from home on planning permissions, technical drawings, procurement, liaison with subcontractors, and other work required to prepare sites for the restart of activity.
Around 30% of Persimmon’s workforce has been unable to work but the company has not furloughed them, choosing instead to pay them in full. The company said: “The group has not made use of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff, has no current plans to access any of the UK government’s covid-19 funding programmes and continues to pay all taxes promptly.”
It added that it has continued to pay 95% of supplier invoices within 60 days, in compliance with the Prompt Payment Code.
David Jenkinson, CEO, said: “The UK government has been very clear on the importance of the construction sector to the UK economy and its desire to see activity continue through the current period of crisis, provided appropriate public health measures are adopted.
“Nothing is more important to us than the health, safety and wellbeing of the public, our colleagues, sub-contractors and suppliers. Having spent the last month developing and testing new site protocols that incorporate the necessary social distancing and protective measures, we believe that we are now able to return to site safely and support the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic. These new measures are fully compliant with government public health guidance and will be strictly enforced by a specialist team, with any individual failing to uphold standards being subject to disciplinary action and removal from site.
“Persimmon’s strong financial liquidity has enabled us to maintain our operational capability through this period by supporting all our colleagues on full pay, which will allow us to reopen sites swiftly, and emerge from the shutdown well-prepared and ready to deliver the new homes the country needs, aided by our strong work in progress position.”
“The commitment from our colleagues throughout this most challenging period, both to the business and to the wider communities in which we work, has been exceptional and I would like to thank them all for their unstinting support.”