Coronavirus - information for suppliers

Last updated: 4 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for suppliers

images showing our workers on the network

Our approach to the coronavirus challenges is focused on safely maintaining our critical services at all times and minimising the impact on our supply chain, our customers and our staff.

We’re following government advice and will continue to operate for the foreseeable future to ensure that we support and protect our supply chain. We ask that all suppliers support their own supply chains in the same way, making a combined effort to minimise the risk to the overall Highways England supply chain.

In letters from the Secretary of State and from the Transport Minister for Roads, Buses and Places, the government recognises the important part that the construction industry has in supporting the country through this crisis. It has been clear that the industry should continue to operate in accordance with the Public Health England and industry guidance. It has also made it clear that travel is permitted where necessary e.g. for construction workers operating on sites.

Please ensure that your teams have the maximum possible protection aligned to both the latest government advice and the Construction Leadership Council’s advice regarding Site Operating Procedures and that you’re minimising the risk of spreading coronavirus so that we can continue to operate safely while fully supporting our employees and the country.

Key worker status

Highways England will provide a letter confirming that your company has key workers that are supporting the strategic road network (SRN). This must be supplemented by a letter from your company, and the employee will need to have photographic proof of identity e.g. staff pass, driving licence, passport etc. The letter can be used to support attendance at school for your employee’s children as well as confirming the need to travel.

Examples of key workers are:

  • site leadership teams and employees that are based full time on a construction site undertaking operational work
  • any employee undertaking any on-site or off-site safety critical work including structural / bridge inspections
  • any employee supporting maintenance and repair operations on the SRN
  • employees installing / removing temporary traffic management, installing / maintaining vehicle restraint systems and those responsible for safe working practices / site leadership
  • employees that provide vehicle recovery services
  • employees that are supporting the delivery or construction / maintenance materials e.g. asphalt, concrete, roadside technology
  • employees supporting critical IT infrastructure etc

This list is not exhaustive and we will consider other requests. Should you require key worker status please contact the email address below with the roles and justification for consideration.

Coronavirus testing for construction workers

Testing for the virus is now available to construction workers. You can find guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of test available.

Contractual changes

We’ll be adjusting some commercial terms to help with the coronavirus challenges. These include relaxing the place of work requirements allowing people to work from home, coronavirus cost treatment and safety obligations. Details will be made available in the coming days.

Improved payment speed

In order to help suppliers’ cash flow, we’re looking to improve the speed of supplier payments. Payments will only be made for work completed and correctly invoiced – fewer invoice queries will allow us to pay quickly. Please ensure that you continue to pay your own suppliers promptly and make every effort to improve the speed of payments to mirror the Highways England approach.

We’re continuing to expand our use of Project Bank Accounts that speed up the billing cycle and assist with cashflow for the extended supply chain. Should suppliers wish to adopt this approach please ask for more details via the email address below.

No planned coronavirus delays or cancellations

We have no plans to close any sites or delay operations due to coronavirus. If you have any concerns, please discuss them with your usual contact and only escalate via the email address below if required.

Potential advanced starts

Traffic volumes have reduced as a result of travel restrictions and we’re assessing options to start some activities earlier than planned. The majority of these are in the Operations area. If you’d like to make suggestions for potential activities please use your usual contacts with us or the email address below.

Further ideas to help our supply chain at all levels

We appreciate that these are challenging times but we must also use them as an opportunity to accelerate innovation that will help us to deal with the restrictions, e.g. accelerating the digital agenda. We’re also interested in any ideas that could help to overcome challenges that suppliers may start to see, e.g. hotel accommodation, builders merchant availability, red diesel supply etc. Please use the email address below to highlight any opportunities that you think we should consider that could help us with operational issues, flow cash to all tiers for work completed and ensure that we maintain a fit-for-purpose supply chain.

For any questions about these updates, business challenges or ideas that you’d like to share with us, get in touch at Corona.Information@highwaysengland.co.uk or through your normal point of contact within Highways England.