NEC ECC: Client is refusing to instruct social distancing claiming it is our choice and therefore not a CE (due to Covid-19)

The Client is refusing to change the Work Information / constraints with regards to social distancing. We as a Contractor would be looking to follow the government guidance with regards to social distancing (which in doing so will take longer to complete the works). The Client is arguing that it’s our choice to follow guidance and social distancing therefore not a compensation event as they have not changed the constraints within the Works Information. As a Contractor we would look to adopt social distancing to ensure safety of our men and following government guidance however looks like we will not be paid for any delays or additional costs. Is there a way around this? As seem very unfair

Will be interesting to see the panels view on this but have you seen the Government document “Covid-19 and responsible Contractual behaviour” and the CLC’s “Covid-19 contractual best practice guidance”

Whether or not they instruct you does not mean you should not be doing it. You need to instruct your workforce/supply chain how to work particularly given this is their health and safety that we are talking about here. It is then a separate issue as to whether these measures you have to put in place whose liability they are under the contract i.e. is it a compensation event or not.

I do not think the Client can ignore the rules particularly when it concerns health and safety. The rules are that you have to put in place social distance measures, and where that is not feasible there needs to be other protective measures is place to minimise the risk i.e. additional PPE etc. Can you imagine the ramification to the Client if the Contractor decided not to social distance on site and the Client stood back and did nothing about it??

I have said in previous posts - I do not think all Clients have been as forthcoming as they should be in terms of whether Contractors should carry on working and if so with what measures in place. This whole issue should be treated like the intent of the early warning process - i.e. let’s see what the issue is and agree the actions to be taken to avoid or minimise that risk. Once we have collectively agreed the measures we need to do as a project to maximise safety, after that we can figure out/worry about whose liability that is. This unfortunately has been the case on many projects I am aware of.