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Spurs stadium: Mace writes to supply chain MDs over working hours

Exclusive: Tottenham Hotspur stadium contractor Mace has written to the MDs of subcontractors on the £800m project stressing the importance of safe working hours in response to findings of a CN investigation.

The contractor also called on any employees concerned over their working hours to report it to Mace, on an anonymous basis if required.

Further investigations by Construction News into working hours on the Tottenham stadium project have revealed subcontractors are now hiring staff to work five consecutive 12-hour days as a minimum requirement.

CN has obtained evidence of calls from subcontractors and agencies to potential electrician candidates for the project that reveal 12-hour shifts and seven-day working weeks are now expected.

The new evidence represents an increase on the back-to-back 12-hour incentivised shifts revealed by CN last week and suggests 80 hour weeks are now standard on the project.

Workers are being offered weekly rates of around £2,200 to work seven days, a minimum of 12 hours on weekdays and two 10-hours shifts on the weekend, according to calls heard by CN.

One representative of a subcontractor on the project told a potential employee that working hours on the job were “12-hour days Monday to Friday, 10 hours for Saturday, 10 hours for Sunday”.

“That’s the job with overtime galore,” they added, suggesting staff could extend their hours beyond the minimum of 12.

More on working hours

Another agency recruiting workers for the £800m scheme described the days as being a “standard 12 hours”, adding that “it’s not possible to work less than that”.

CN has seen a contract for an agency subcontractor on the Tottenham Hotspur job that showed they had been opted out of working hours regulations as part of the agreement.

The contract also opts staff out of the conduct regulations – laws designed to protect vulnerable agency workers – when they sign the agreement.

Workers that opt out of conduct regulations lose protection from ‘handcuff clauses’ that allow agencies to block staff from working directly with a client for a set period.

Opting out of these regulations also means agencies can charge staff if they become permanent employees and can delay payment to individuals if they have not been paid by the client themselves.

CN witnessed agency staff telling workers that if they decided to leave the Tottenham project they would be blocked from returning to the scheme for a six-month period.

A source that worked on the project told CN they had not been asked whether they wanted to opt out of the working time directive, and said they were unaware they had been opted out of the conduct regulations.

There is no suggestion Mace was aware or in control of any contracts agreed between third party recruitment agencies, operatives, and its subcontractors.

A Mace spokesperson said: “We have written to the managing directors of our subcontractors to remind them of the importance of carefully monitoring working hours and conditions to ensure that people are working safely.

“There are a number of different safety reporting systems in place so that anyone who is concerned about their working hours or conditions can report it to Mace directly and anonymously if necessary. We would encourage anyone with concerns to share them with the Mace team.

“We work closely with our client and our subcontractors to ensure that no one is working excessive or unsafe hours.

“As with many projects, as we near completion on the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, many operatives are choosing to work overtime.

“We are particularly aware of the risks of people working long hours on this project, and so we proactively monitoring working hours across the site and carry out detailed spot checks of our supply chain.”

A spokesperson from Tottenham Hotspur said: “As previously stated in a similar article written by Construction News last week, our stadium construction partners Mace are in control of the stadium site and they have assured us that they have implemented the correct measures to ensure the wellbeing of every contractor.

“The health and safety of everyone on site is of paramount importance.”

Working Time Regulations 

These laws introduced in 1998 make it illegal to work more than 48 hours a week on average - normally averaged over 17 weeks.

This law is sometimes called the ‘working time directive’ 

The 48-hour week can be voluntarly opted out of, although some workers, such as those in the road transport industry, can’t opt out.

An opt-out agreement can be cancelled at any time - even if it’s part of an employees contract

Readers' comments (3)

  • From what I hear no one is doing a lot when they're on site so it shouldn't be too tiring anyway!!

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  • Mace employ senior managers who travel to the site from locations such as Northern Norfolk, essentially spending 16 hours per day out of the house everyday. Leading by example!

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  • It’s mace and the club that just keep thumping the table demanding more labour and that everyone works longer. Hypocrites.

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