JCB has been forced to close its nine UK plants due to a collapse in sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The company has halted production at its manufacturing plants in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham until at least Monday 30 March.
Shop-floor workers affected by the closures will be paid in full for this period, but the company said “no decision has yet been taken” on what happens beyond then.
Office staff will continue to work, with many doing so from home, in line with the government’s guidelines on social distancing.
Graeme Macdonald, JCB CEO, said the “unprecedented” measures were “absolutely essential” to protect the business against the threat of coronavirus.
Demand drops sharply
He added: “As we continue to deal with the health implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become more challenging to maintain business continuity in this volatile economic climate.
“JCB is a global exporter and worldwide demand for our products has dropped sharply as customers cancel orders and defer deliveries.”
With France, Spain and Italy in lockdown, access to key markets for construction equipment has disappeared “overnight”, Mr Macdonald said.
JCB said the period of closure would allow the company to replan production, prioritise orders and ensure parts are available.
Its plant in Pudong, near Shanghai, in China, ceased production last month as the effect of the pandemic initially took hold. But after several weeks of disruption, the factory is now fully operational again.