1 in 6 shop workers ‘don’t report assaults’

A union leader has told shop workers that abuse is not part of their job and encouraged them to report any incidents to employers.

John Hannett, general secretary of shop workers’ union Usdaw, was speaking on 11 November after the initial findings of an Usdaw survey found that 16 per cent of assaulted shop workers did not report the attack to their employer.

He said: “All too often, shop workers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job, with over 300 retail staff assaulted every day. So it is very concerning that one in six do not report a violent attack to their employer.

“Anecdotally, we are told that sometimes staff don’t feel it would make any difference if they do report incidents or that it’s just a part of being in a frontline job, dealing with the public and the problems that sometimes throws up.

“My message to shop workers is very clear, abuse is not a part of the job. It is really important that shop workers do tell their manager when they are victims of violence, threats or abuse. If they report it we can help to sort it.”

Meanwhile, NHS Protect – which leads on work to identify and tackle crime across the NHS – released figures on 20 November also showing a significant increase in assaults on health service staff in England.

Overall, there was an 8.7 per cent rise in total reported physical assaults, from 63,199 in 2012-13 to 68,683 in 2013-14. The number of criminal sanctions following reported assaults rose by 191, from 1,458 to 1,649, an increase of 13.1 per cent.

Christine McAnea, head of health at public services union UNISON, said: “It is absolutely shocking that every day more than 188 NHS workers are physically attacked. There can be no excuse for abusing or assaulting staff and all incidents should be taken very seriously. Sadly, violence on NHS premises often go unreported and many workers are left to suffer in silence.”

Lara Murray, an associate solicitor at Palmers specialising in employment law, said: “Employers should take all steps that are reasonable to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their workers.

“In order to discharge their duty of care, it is essential that employers carry out risk assessments to identify whether violence is a risk in their business and identify steps they can take to remove or reduce the risk.

“Systems for reporting incidents should be in place and employers should encourage a workplace culture in which workers feel comfortable in using these systems, because without accurate information on risks, problems may go unnoticed. For more information on risk assessments and putting in place measures to protect employees from violence, please contact us.”