Coronavirus crisis is a challenging time for us all
The coronavirus crisis is an extremely challenging time for all businesses at the moment, and the electrical industry is no different.
There’s a lot of uncertainty among employers and staff about the future, with many companies finding that projects are being suspended for at least three months, and some indefinitely. We can now be sure that the impact of COVID-19 is sure to be felt through to the summer at least.
Here at DRF Electrical, we’ve been hit quite hard over the last few weeks, with ongoing tender returns cancelled or deferred until normality can resume.
Current projects at various stages of development have also been suspended, including O2 in Swindon and Travis Perkins in Weybridge which were both within days of completion. Trailfinders in Canterbury has been suspended on the second day of the project, leaving Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath as the only live site but we are expecting that to close shortly.
Although we’re not surprised by the suspensions and we understand the reasons why, it still came as a huge blow. While many businesses in other industries are able to let their staff work remotely, or switch to online services or deliveries, our employees have to be on site to carry out their work.
The Government has announced various measures to help businesses and protect people’s jobs and support wages and pay. But for the moment, all we can do is chase monies owed to us. However, the current climate and uncertainty around the measures to help businesses means that many companies are reluctant to pay. Some clients are using terms like “paid when paid” and “under the furlough agreement payments cannot be made as this would be seen as the company carrying out work”. This is an area that needs clarification as it could have a serious knock-on effect on contractors, subcontractors and the supply chain, who may end up receiving no monies for works or goods supplied. This could leave many in a precarious predicament if the current crisis lasts for as long as the Government predicts.
Clarity is also needed around other schemes designed to help businesses and employees to allow scope for forward planning and measures to be implemented for the end of the crisis.
On a more positive note, we’ve seen an increase in the number of enquiries we’ve received from potential clients asking about our availability for new projects once the crisis is over. We would certainly be in the position to undertake new schemes, so yes is our answer to that question!
At the end of the day, however, the health of both employers and employees is paramount. Stay safe everyone!