Persimmon to restart sites

Persimmon reported at the end of April, that since the closure of its sites and sales offices in late March, it had devised and tested “a range” of new site protocols to allow for a return, “while ensuring the necessary social distancing restrictions are strictly enforced”.

The move was welcomed by housing secretary Robert Jenrick who tweeted that where social distancing guidelines can be followed “construction can and should continue”.

Persimmon says its measures had been made in consultation with colleagues, subcontractors and suppliers and in compliance with government and Construction Leadership Council (CLC) guidance. Those not adhering to Persimmon’s new standards would face disciplinary action and dismissal from site, it added.

Looking back over the past few weeks, the business said that, after transitioning to home working, its sales teams had continued to assist customers through virtual viewings and online reservations. During the five weeks to April 19, it secured around 820 gross private sales reservations.

And other colleagues had continued to progress planning permissions, technical drawings, procurement “and all other work required to prepare sites for the restart of activity, to ensure this can be achieved swiftly”. Persimmon added that its office staff would remain working at home until official guidance changes.

Persimmon has not used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff and said it did not intend to access any of the government’s support schemes. Work has stopped for around 30% of Persimmon’s staff who are on full pay.

David Jenkinson, Persimmon’s 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, subcontractors 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.”