Luke Hung and Sally Yang
Although Taiwan is currently not in the level 3 COVID-19 epidemic alert period, still there has been a decrease in the number of workers on construction sites, which affects the progression of projects. In practice, construction sites have data related to the number of workers at work and the number of workers who cannot work on the sites, and are facing difficulties in substantiation. The Public Construction Commission of the Executive Yuan (hereinafter, the “PCC”) issued the Gong-Cheng-Guan-1120300061 Explanatory Circular of January 30, 2023 (hereinafter, the “Circular”) to amend the Handling Methods for Extension or Suspension of Public Construction Projects During Non-Level 3 COVID-19 Alert Period and announced the same on the Internet on February 20 to provide more flexibility for suppliers in applying for extensions of time and procuring agencies in handling such matters.
This Circular is highlighted below:
1. A supplier is provided with more room to request an extension of time or the revision of the contract through the change from “verification and determination” and “verification and approval” to “formal examination.”
According to the handling principles previously announced by the PCC on May 4, 2022, when construction operations are affected, data relating to the number of workers expected to work on the construction site and the number of workers unable to work are used to calculate the number of days of extension based on the attendance rate. This was previously to be “verified” by the authorities, but this Circular adjusts it to a “formal review” conducted ex officio based on the principles of good faith, speed, and simplicity, and supporting materials are required only in case of abnormalities.
2. To address the impact of materials, facilities, equipment, international technical personnel, and other matters on the progress of an individual project, the original limit of “transportation affected by epidemic prevention measures” has been adjusted to directly include all the above items that affect “the timeline for entry to the construction site due to the epidemic” in the criteria for granting an extension of time.
3. For the calculation of the extension of time specified in the schedule, a new definition is added to explain that if a construction site worker of an individual project has symptoms of respiratory infection (including fever or cough) during the period of independent health management, he or she can be included in the list of unavailable workers in order to avoid the situation that the epidemic spreads again since the diagnosed patient is still infectious during the period of independent health management.
Since the number of available workers may be affected by employee diagnosed cases, home isolation, or the need for family care during a non-level 3 alert period, resulting in a delay of the project, it is recommended that the supplier should maintain complete records of the number of “unavailable workers” and request the authorities to ex officio conduct a “formal review” under the principles of good faith, speed, and simplicity.
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