Harrogate coronavirus hospital builder Bam also puts 18% of staff onto government’s jobs retention scheme

Laing O’Rourke is the latest contractor to furlough hundreds of staff with the firm confirming around 1,000 of its UK employees have been switched to the government’s job retention scheme.

The firm has 8,000 staff in the UK meaning around 12.5% of its staff in its home market have been furloughed – the name of initiative introduced by the government last month which sees staff put on paid leave with a proportion of their wages paid by the government.

13Dec19RayORourkePowell-9.5.18-Laing O'Rourke-3

Source: M

Last week, Morgan Sindall, Wates, Sir Robert McAlpine, Mace and Multiplex furloughed around 4,000 staff between them as sites up and down the country ground to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Laing O’Rourke had already told all UK staff they will have to take pay cuts of up to 30% because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Last Friday’s move was likened by chief executive Ray O’Rourke (pictured) to “a war effort”.

He added: “These measures are regrettable but essential if we are to get through this period, and then emerge strongly as a pillar to help rebuild the UK economy and our communities.”

Staff will take pay cuts of between 20% and 30% depending on their pay grade.

Meanwhile, Bam, which is building a temporary NHS Nightingale hospital in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, to deal with the covid-19 outbreak, is also furloughing 440 of its staff.

The firm said the figure represents 18% of its 2,400 UK workforce, adding that furloughed staff will have their salaries paid in full for this month. It said it had not yet taken a decision on whether to top up the May pay packets of those affected staff.

And UK chief executive James Wimpenny warned: “It is likely that in the coming months we will need to take further steps to protect the long-term sustainability of our business.

“Our priorities are to protect lives and livelihoods so we can further protect the vital jobs that will be so important when the pandemic subsides.”

The senior management team is also taking a pay cut of 20% each and has waived their annual pay reviews for this year.

Wimpenny also revealed that 200 staff were either self-isolating or absent from work because they are showing symptoms of covid-19.

Other firms to have furloughed staff include Balfour Beatty, Kier, Galliford Try and Costain – although they have not said how many staff have been affected.