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COVID-19

AN UPDATE ON COVID-19 (UK)

Our response 

From the outset of this crisis, the health and safety of our people has been our priority. We have been and will continue following the latest Government guidance to make all our locations as safe as possible and slow the spread of the virus.

As the crisis has impacted our revenues and cashflow, we have also sought to maintain some level of operations and to protect the 8,000 UK jobs we directly sustain. We have implemented temporary pay cuts for our management and engineering employees – a 30% reduction for our executive and 25% or 20% for other job grades – and these will stay in place until we deem the crisis to be over. Our construction workforce is not affected by this decision.

We have also placed a number of people in furlough, both corporate employees and members of the workforce who either have no work to do because the projects they are working on have been suspended, or because they cannot complete their tasks from home. 

Government guidance – safely delivering our projects


The Government views the construction and manufacturing sectors as critical to supporting the national response to the current crisis and to restarting the UK economy as soon as circumstances allow. On 31 March, The Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, wrote an open letter paying tribute to all those working in the construction industry. He outlined that: “Our country and our economy needs all our support. And the construction industry has answered the call to action.”

The Government wants construction work to continue in line with Public Health England’s (PHE) guidance on social distancing, which is reflected in the new and updated Site Operating Procedures (SOP) developed by the Construction Leadership Council. This desire was reiterated by the Prime Minister in his address on 10 May, in which he said construction workers should be ‘actively encouraged’ to go to work.

We have made significant changes across all our sites to ensure compliance with the new and updated SOPs and this has enabled us to maintain operations across the majority of our projects. We will continue to work in line with these procedures and adhere to any further guidance provided by Government. In early March we began reducing the concentration of people in our offices, manufacturing facilities and on all our sites to comply with social distancing guidance. All work that can be done remotely, like digital engineering, design and office-based support services is being carried out by employees working from home. Those employees able to do their work from home will continue to do so.

Laing O’Rourke is also a manufacturing organisation, operating numerous facilities that support our Design for Manufacturing and Assembly approach. Secretary Sharma also published a letter on 8 April outlining the Government approach to the manufacturing sector, here.

However, work on several of our projects, especially those in constrained city-centre locations, remains suspended although we are working with clients to finalise restart plans for the Northern Line Extension, Crossrail and Edinburgh St James. At Tideway, a small number of the workforce have returned to site and we hope to gradually increase numbers over the coming weeks and months. We will continue to bring people back to work as soon it is safe to do so and in line with UK Government workplace guidance; and by that given by Scottish Government in relation to Edinburgh St James. 

Delivering for our NHS

During the last few months, we have prioritised the safe delivery of our four ongoing hospital projects to provide all possible support for the NHS.  

On Monday 27 April, several finished wards containing 384 beds were handed over at the new Grange University Hospital at Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran – months ahead of schedule - and are now available for patients should they be needed during the Coronavirus outbreak. Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s Chief Executive, Judith Paget, said that the extra beds are an important part of the Board’s pandemic response plan, even though they are not needed immediately.

“At the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak we needed to plan for the worst case scenario,” she said. “I would like to thank Laing O’Rourke and Gleeds for the great amount of effort and skill they have shown to get these areas of the hospital ready for us to use. Thankfully, the general public have observed the advice on staying at home and social distancing, so we don’t need to open the extra beds just yet. I would urge people to keep following the government guidance to protect themselves, to ease the pressure on our NHS services, and to save lives.”

On 1 May, we handed over a new state-of-the-art ‘step-down’ unit which will help patients recover from covid-19 and other conditions in part of the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Steve Warburton, Chief Executive of Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our construction partners and suppliers have worked quickly to create this fantastic facility, but equally our staff have demonstrated their ingenuity and innovation to plan the way in which they’ll give our patients the best possible care. It’s an amazing achievement to have created this unit in such a short time, and we’re very grateful to everyone involved.” 

Most recently, on 18 May, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre - Liverpool announced that it would open its new 11-storey specialist hospital in the heart of Liverpool on 27 June. The new Centre will play a vital role in the second phase of the NHS response to coronavirus by providing normal clinical activity for people with cancer. It will also release capacity in other hospitals in the region. The Laing O’Rourke-led team began construction of the 110 fully single en-suite patient bedroom Cancer Centre in 2017. Dr Liz Bishop, Chief Executive of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool is the culmination of an eight-year vision for transforming cancer care in a region with one of the highest rates of cancer in the country. It brings state-of-the-art facilities and pioneering cancer treatments to Cheshire and Merseyside at a time when they are more vitally needed than ever. We are tremendously excited about opening Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool. It has been a huge labour of love and I would like to pay tribute to our staff, the Laing O’Rourke site team, our suppliers, subcontractors and all the partners who have helped to bring it to fruition.”

Last updated: 28 May 2020