Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has supported legislation to give greater protection to retail workers, particularly where they are selling goods or services that are age restricted.
The Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill, which will make it a specific criminal offence for retail workers to face threats and violence while doing their jobs, was passed unanimously.
Speaking during the debate, Mr McArthur praised retail workers in Orkney and across the country for ‘going above and beyond to serve their communities’ during the pandemic but went on to highlight that, worryingly, many had faced unacceptable instances of abuse during this time for simply doing their jobs.
Orkney’s MSP explained that this had demonstrated the weaknesses in the current protections available for retail workers and therefore welcomed the steps being taken in the Bill to address the problem.
Mr McArthur commented:
“Nobody should ever go to work and expect to be on the receiving end of abuse, harassment or threats for simply doing their job. Too often, however, we hear reports of this being the case for many retail workers.
“In some ways, the early stages of the pandemic exposed the seriousness of the problem. Even in Orkney, shopworkers experienced unacceptable verbal abuse or threatening behaviour, despite working flat out to help our community in already challenging conditions.
“Parliament heard evidence that retail workers usually avoid reporting incidents to the police for fear of not being taken seriously. That cannot be right and underlines the case for changes in the law. Hopefully, this bill will give retail workers more confidence that their concerns will be acted upon in future.
“Of course, legislation alone won’t completely eradicate the problem. However, this bill should send a strong message that any type of verbal or physical abuse directed toward those working in our retail sector will always be deemed unacceptable and never tolerated.”