Builders plead 'force majeure' to government over unvaccinated workers

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Builders are demanding that the situation in the building sector be officially recognized as a case of force majeure, as the extraordinary conditions of the pandemic are making it very hard to fulfil building contracts signed before the full extent of the pandemic became known.

In particular, the Latvian Builders Association (LBA) argues that the requirement for builders to have an interoperable Covid certificate from December 15 could not possibly have been foreseen and will likely further delay projects that have been started. 

"Contracts, which are currently being fulfilled by the builders, have been concluded in advance without knowing and cannot provide for a requirement after December 15 not to allow employees to work in construction without an interoperable certificate," the LBA said.

The government has determined that as of December 15, 2021, employees who perform their duties in person must have a certificate of vaccination or illness. The building sector was given an extra month's grace with November 15 the deadline for most industries, but this is not enough to ensure contracts can be fulfilled as planned, the LBA argues.

According to its figures, the level of vaccination in construction companies varies greatly: there are companies where all employees have been vaccinated, and there are also companies where the number of employees vaccinated is below 20%. The average vaccination rate in construction companies is 70-75%, suggesting around a large part of the workforce could be without jobs in a month's time if they still have no Covid certificate. The LBA estimates that many of these people could rejoin the gray economy, reversing recent positive trends in the construction sector.

"The shadow economy can be predicted to increase its share of construction, despite the long struggle for the reduction of shadow economy indicators. Once again, the government's actions force some specialists to leave Latvia, but entrepreneurs should be allowed to liberalize the rules for importing labor to compensate for the lack of labor. Lack of labor in construction has been a painful problem for some time. Employee morbidity, should also be taken into consideration... [without government actions] the execution of contracts
will be threatened and often impossible," said the LBA.

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