Not part of the Job

by Michael Addison in Informative Articles | posted:

protection of workers bill retail


Violence shouldn’t happen in any job. Well, unless you’re a boxer or UFC fighter that’s expected. For those who work in the retail sector, violence and abuse at work have become “just part of the job”, with 92% of retail workers in Scotland having endured physical and/or verbal abuse at work.


There are no current laws specifically for the safety of those who work in retail, the UK laws for offences against the person remain in place. Is this enough of a deterrent?


Preventing violence to retail staff


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guide from 1995 is very much from a different time.  The information provided for small businesses suggests you follow the following methods:

  • The time your shop is open, the number of staff are issues you can’t address to prevent and control violence.
  • Security measures such as CCTV are too expensive. Conceal your tills and keep the amount of available money at a low level.
  • Small retailers should keep a log of all incidents; this may highlight measures or specific time incidents happen more.
  • Organise with your local crime prevention officer local self-help groups so you can find ways to deal with the problem yourselves.


This advice isn’t particularly helpful. Although, the point about limiting available money at the till has a modern answer. [View our card policy blog here]


Why does violence happen against retail staff?


The British Retail Consortium (BRC) discovered these incidents happen when staff challenge customers shoplifting or when asking for proof of age. Since there is little to curb this behaviour, staff have little to protect them. Violence can increase absenteeism, staff turnover and a business’s profits.


What’s being done?


Protection of Workers Bill


Daniel Johnson Labour MSP for Edinburgh South finished a final consultation recently on a proposed Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-Restricted Sales etc) (Scotland) Bill. The main findings found on “not part of the job” reveal some alarming figures.  There has been a 363% increase in violence or abuse towards retail staff, with many testimonials from customers using physical force.


The bill would propose a new statutory offence created to protect retail staff encountering physical or abusive behaviour at work. This will bring added confidence to workers, to not work in fear of a customers reaction to ID or criminal behaviour.


In the meantime, you can start the culture by encouraging workers not to take abuse as part of the job and report incidents to managers at first notice.


Retail Building Safety


Have you checked if the fire alarms working?

Is the fire door secure?

Are your electrics functioning correctly?

Is your general waste disposed of efficiently?


If there are any doubts about the security of your building, view our specialised retail hub for further information. We provide small businesses such as yourselves competent and reliable washroom, safety and waste facility services.

retail hub