Olivia Blake, Sheffield Hallam MP, has today launched a public consultation asking city residents - including shop workers and transport workers - to feed in their experiences of abuse in customer-facing roles. She is hoping to launch a campaign to change the laws around abuse of public-facing workers.
This comes after horrific attacks on Asda shop workers in London by customers last month, which left one woman needing hospital treatment and led to several arrests.
Research from the Institute of Customer Service has reported a significant rise in incidents of abuse since the start of the pandemic, with more than half of customer-facing staff experiencing abuse from customers since the Covid outbreak – ranging from verbal abuse such as shouting and abusive language to, in the most extreme cases, physical assaults.
With 80 per cent of the UK’s workforce working in customer-facing roles, Ms Blake said there was concern that mounting abuse is affecting staff across every sector – from retail to public services; financial institutions to public transport networks.
She said: “The attack on Asda workers last month was horrific - and what’s worse is it wasn’t a one off. Incidents like this are on the rise. Our front-line workers, who have done so much to keep our communities going over the past year, are facing verbal and in some cases physical abuse on a near daily basis. And there aren’t proper laws in place to protect those in customer facing roles from this abuse. This really needs to change.
“If you have faced abuse at work - in whatever form - I’d encourage you to please take my survey and share your experience, so I can launch a campaign to tighten our laws and protect all of our frontline workers from abuse in their place of work.”
Log onto tinyurl.com/abuseatwork to contribute to the consultation.
The Institute of Customer Service said customer-facing staff have been subject to increasing levels of hostility, with 56 per cent experiencing abuse from customers during the pandemic.
It said 71 per cent felt their role had changed – with additional responsibility for things that may increase the risk of conflict.