New laws to protect retail staff from abuse and attacks from customers have been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill was passed in late January. It makes it a new specific offence to assault, abuse or threaten retail staff.
The MSP behind the legislation, Daniel Johnson, insisted that ‘enough is enough’ after attacks on retail staff increased during the covid-19 pandemic.
His bill was passed with the 118 MSPs voting in favour, an overwhelming majority, after it won the support of the Scottish Government.
If the abuse this takes place when someone is trying to buy an age-restricted product, such as alcohol or cigarettes, that would be an aggravating factor and the offence could be treated more seriously.
The Bill was prioritised following a rise in the number of reported attacks on shop staff during the pandemic. According to the trade union Usdaw, an average of 15 shop staff are assaulted every day in Scotland.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO, said: “Over the past few months Bira has been actively campaigning to protect retail employees and owners from verbal and physical abuse.
“Covid-19 has increased the level of abuse, even more so since retailers have been encouraged to enforce the wearing of face coverings.
“Government officials are sympathetic to the problem and we are delighted to see Scotland leading the way and taking decisive action. Accepting abuse should not be part of someone’s job and we want the relevant authorities to be more proactive in this area.
“Our message to shoppers is simple – respect retail employees and be kind when shopping.”