NEC ECC: Coronavirus protocols is determining that non construction staff should stay away from site

I under an NEC3 (Option C) contract, if a project agreed that non essential project personnel were to work from home, how could the ‘defined site’ be adjusted to accommodate home workers in exceptional circumstances?

Working from home is already covered in the Schedule of Cost Components and Working Areas wouldn’t necessarily need to be extended to include everyone’s home addresses.

Under the Schedule of Cost Components in the people component it refers to:

(1) People whose normal place of working is within the Working Areas. This covers people who are usually working on Site or in other areas already included in Working Areas (e.g. if the site offices are not within the Site) and so when these people are working at home due to Coronavirus they should still be covered.

(2) People whose normal place of work is not within Working Areas. This usually covers people who are based away from the Site (e.g. in a regional or head office) and so would not automatically be covered unless the location they are working at has already been added to Working Areas. To ensure these people can continue to be included in Defined Cost you should use clause 15.1 to submit a proposal for adding other areas to the Working Areas, there is nothing to say this can’t be a person’s home address. It should be in the PM’s interest to consider this proposal as you should be able demonstrate that working from home will help to mitigate the effects of Coronavirus on the project.

One caveat to all of this is that you need to be able to demonstrate that costs associated with anyone working remotely are incurred in order to Provide the Works (last sentence of the first paragraph of the Schedule of Cost Components), particularly with people who aren’t normally within Working Areas. It would make sense to ensure the Project Manager is aware of who is working from home and what they are doing whilst there.

I’d suggest an early warning notification and risk reduction meeting with the Project Manager to discuss and agree all of this to ensure the parties expectations are aligned.