Persimmon said it would resume work on April 27, a month after it felt compelled to close its sites due to government restrictions on a pandemic.
Homebuilder FTSE 100, which sold more than 16,000 homes last year, is the latest in a series of big companies to announce plans to reopen this week with new security protocols. Persimmon rivals Taylor Wimpey and Vistry, formerly known as Bovis, both announced plans to resume construction on Thursday. Vistry said he would resume building houses on Monday, while Taylor Wimpey’s first workers would return on May 4.
Beyond home builders, DIY retailer B&Q reopened 155 stores this week. Some of the largest factories in the British auto industry are also planning to reopen, including those owned by Vauxhall, Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin and Bentley.
Dave Jenkinson, outgoing general manager of Persimmon, said the construction industry has government back-to-work support, and said workers could be removed from sites if they don’t follow social distancing guidelines .
Government housing secretary Robert Jenrick on Friday urged more builders to return to work in an interview with Building magazine. The Conservative government, under pressure from its own backbenchers, wants to allow the economy to recover.
Jenrick said, “I welcome developers who reopen their sites after carefully considering public health advice. Building the housing the country needs is vitally important. Construction work can and must continue. “
Lack of explicit guidance for home builders and other sectors has caused confusion, with many companies unwilling to take the risk of reputations asking staff to return to work even if there were no legal obstacle. Home builders in particular have faced protests from the workers concerned.
Jenkinson said: “After spending the last month developing and testing new site protocols that incorporate the necessary social distancing and protection measures, we believe that we are now able to return to the site safely and support the UK economic recovery from the pandemic.
“These new measures are fully in line with government guidelines for public health and will be strictly enforced by a specialized team, anyone who does not meet the standards will be subject to disciplinary action and removal from the site.”
Construction work has continued in some “limited cases” since the start of the foreclosure, added Persimmon.
The company, which had previously been at the center of controversies over executive compensation, including the payment of a £ 75 million bonus to its former CEO, did not use the government leave scheme and covered the wages of employees unable to work. The company, which was also one of the main beneficiaries of the government subsidy for purchasing aid, added that it did not intend to access public funds during the crisis and ” continue to pay all taxes quickly. “
Cancellations of home purchases are still at “historically low levels,” said Persimmon, suggesting that the effects of an impending recession in the United Kingdom had yet to be felt.