Retail workers set to win protection as SNP to back new bill

The Scottish Government will back new laws being put forward by a Labour MSP aimed at improving protection for shop staff.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 10:48 pm

Community safety minister Ash Denham said the government would back Daniel Johnson’s Member’s Bill, if some changes are made.

The Labour MSP is bringing forward legislation which would make it a new specific offence to assault, abuse or threaten retail staff.

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If this took place when someone was trying to buy an age-restricted product, such as alcohol or cigarettes, that would be an aggravating factor, and the offence could be treated more seriously.

Ms Denham yesterday confirmed to MSPs on the economy, energy and fair work committee the government would back the legislation when it comes before Holyrood for a vote next week.

That will happen if changes can be made removing parts of the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill that would make it an offence to hinder or obstruct retail workers.

Ms Denham said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the key role that retail workers play in serving and sustaining Scotland’s communities.

“This legislation will help emphasise the importance of law enforcement using their powers to protect retail workers.” She added: “Subject to certain amendments being made to thebill in Parliament, the Scottish Government will be supporting this legislation to improve understanding of the extent of offences against retail workers and to ensure a new specific offence can be used for assaults, threats and abuse committed against these workers.”

Mr Johnson, the MSP for Edinburgh Southern, said he was “delighted” the government had agreed to back the Bill at next week’s vote.

He said recent talks with ministers had been “useful in identifying understanding on this important issue”.

The Labour MSP said: “Passing my bill into law will provide an important recognition of the key duty shop workers have upholding the law and the issues they face doing so.

“Most critically, the pandemic has seen people working in retail performing critical roles, supplying the basic essentials to all of us and keeping us safe as we do so. This bill pays an important tribute to these efforts over the last six months.”

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