CALLS FOR GREATER PROTECTION OF SHOPWORKERS AS ABUSE DOUBLES DURING PANDEMIC

·       Reported cases of shopworker abuse have doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, retail workers were abused every fortnight on average in 2019

  • Despite government’s new measures, trade union Usdaw has launched a petition for new legislation to protect retail staff
  • Mandatory facemasks and coverings have caused an increase in abusive and violent incidents – with one retailer reporting 990 incidents in the first week it came in to force

Reported incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers have doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to invigorated calls for action to be taken in order to protect retail staff.

Following the introduction of mandatory facemasks and coverings in shops last month from last month, retail workers have been faced with an increase in abusive and violent incidents – with one retailer reporting 990 incidents in the first week the rule came in to force.

In light of this hike in incidents trade union Usdaw, along with its retail partners, has launched a House of Commons petition to legislate protective measures for those working in the retail sector.

The government has recently published a series of measures it will introduce following the closure of its Call for Evidence of violence and abuse towards retail staff. While Usdaw welcomes this action and hopes they can make a real difference, the trade union believes this will succeed when backed up with new legislation.

Despite the crucial role shopworkers have played throughout the virus outbreak, staff have bared the brunt of some horrific cases of abuse – with some having been spat at, threatened with infection or physically assaulted. According to survey results from Usdaw, shopworkers were verbally abused, threatened or assaulted every fortnight on average in 2019.

Usdaw’s petition calls for legislation to be introduced that would make any verbal or physical abuse or threat against a retail worker a criminal offence. This would carry a penalty that acts as a deterrent and make clear that the abuse is unacceptable.