Abuse against shop workers is the biggest employment risk to occur during the pandemic, according to a survey of the UK’s top 100 retailers by law firm TLT.
The firm asked retailers about perceived risks versus those that have actually materialised during the pandemic, with mental health issues being the fastest growing perceived risk, and abuse is second, while a third (31%) said they experienced abuse against a shop worker.
Around 69% of retailers said harsher punishments are needed to reduce the risk of abuse, and 37% say it’s becoming more difficult to attract and retain staff.
Perran Jervis, head of retail and consumer goods at TLT, said: “Shop workers have been praised for their work on the front lines of the pandemic, but they have paid the price of being vulnerable to violence and abuse.
“This is affecting all retailers – not just one or two sectors – and our data shows that the industry as a whole feels very strongly that a firmer deterrent will be the most effective method to reduce incidents of violence and keep staff safe.”
He added: “In the absence of a new law, we can expect retailers to look at more creative ways to protect their staff, and for landlords, local authorities and police to work together to help solve the problem.
“It also needs the government to encourage retailers to engage with it on a way forward. Having the right support in place for all members of staff – including training and counselling – is vital for retailers to fulfil their duty of care towards their employees.”