New law “offers vital protection” – Rhuaraidh Fleming
A new law has been passed that will protect Scottish shop workers from abuse from customers in a move that “offers vital protection” to retail staff according to former retail worker, Rhuaraidh Fleming, who is seeking election for the SNP in North East Fife at this year’s Scottish Parliament election.
In a unanimous vote, the Scottish Parliament approved the new law creating a specific offence of assault, abuse or threatening of staff. The move has been welcomed following reports that key workers in retail have faced increased levels of assault and abuse during the Covid pandemic.
While existing laws offered protection to retail workers from abuse and assault the Scottish Government’s Community Safety Minister, Ash Denham MSP, has noted that the new legislation could “make the general public think more about their behaviour when they interact with retail workers”.
Commenting on the new legislation Rhuaraidh Fleming, former retail worker and SNP candidate for North East Fife at the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections said:
It is sadly my experience that anybody who has worked in any form of retail has experienced abuse. I have worked in public facing roles all my adult working life and have suffered my share of verbal abuse and threats while colleagues have been met with violence.
It is clearly unacceptable behaviour, especially during the pandemic when these key workers are keeping shops open so that people can buy the food and other essentials that they need. This is a difficult time for everybody but that is no excuse for attacking or threatening the people helping to maintain some normality in our lives.
People are scared because of the circumstances we are living in just now but shops across North East Fife are open at the moment because key workers enable them to be open. There is no justification for abusing or threatening retail staff and I hope this new legislation will prevent attacks taking place against staff, in the future.
There is no place for abuse in the workplace. In my time in retail I had to put up with verbal abuse and threats. I have had to submit several witness statements to the Police for the abuse directed towards myself and colleagues all for trying to help people. This new legislation offers vital protection to shop staff and if it can serve as a deterrent to this sort of behaviour, and help to reduce the amount of abuse and attacks suffered by retail key workers, then it will be a success in my eyes.
The new legislation, passed by 118 votes to 0 in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 19 January, was supported by the Scottish Government following its introduction as a Private Members Bill by Daniel Johnson MSP.
The outcome of the Stage 3 vote, and the preceding Stage 3 debate, to approve the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill can be found here.