The Scottish Parliament Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee has unanimously approved the general principles of a Bill which aims to increase protection for shopworkers.

The ‘Protection of Workers Bill’ aims to increase protection for retail workers and must now be agreed by MSPs and pass two further stages at Holyrood before it becomes law.

The following areas the Bill focus on include:

. Creating a new statutory offence of assaulting, threatening, abusing, obstructing or hindering a retail worker

. Creating a statutory aggravation to that offence where the retail worker is enforcing a statutory age restriction

ACS provided written evidence to the Committee outlining support for the introduction of the Bill and the additional protections that it provides for workers upholding and enforcing the law such as age restrictions.

The 2020 Crime Report shows that 83% of people who work in the convenience sector have been subjected to verbal abuse over the last year and there were over 50,000 incidents of violence estimated in the sector, with 25% of incidents resulting in injury.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Retailers and store colleagues are most at risk from violence and abuse when carrying out their daily work; enforcing age-restricted sales policies, refusing to serve intoxicated customers and trying to prevent shop theft.

“We have been delighted to support the Scottish Grocers Federation in their campaign for the changes to the law that this Bill includes. We’re very pleased that the Committee has approved the general principles of the Bill, creating a new statutory offence for attacks on shopworkers will send a clear message to offenders that these incidents will not be tolerated.”

ACS has produced a short animation video for retailers and their staff, which details ways in which stores can manage and anticipate incidents of violence and abuse, including advice on dealing with shop thieves and enforcing age restrictions.

The video is available here.