PROPOSED legislation designed to better protect bar staff from violence and abuse has been welcomed by trade groups.
Daniel Johnson, Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern, launched a consultation on the proposed Protection of Workers Bill last week.
The document (available at notpartofthejob.com) sets out potential changes to criminal law to create new offences for assaulting, abusing, harassing, threatening or obstructing a worker involved in the sale or supply of alcohol and other age-restricted goods.
New statutory offences would sit alongside the current common laws of assault and breach of the peace, which offer protection to everyone in Scotland; Johnson proposes that the maximum penalties for these offences would be the same as the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act: up to 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £10,000.
The consultation, which is open until April 20, also looks at an alternative option of creating a new “statutory aggravation” for offences against a worker involved in the sale of age-restricted goods; this would mean that for cases in which the victim was a member of bar or shop staff, the court must take that into account when sentencing – something the paper says should, in most cases, lead to longer custodial sentences or higher fines.
Johnson said “everybody should enjoy safety and security at work”.
“For too many people abuse and violence has become ‘just part of the job’,” he said.
“This Bill would offer much-needed protection for thousands of Scottish workers.”
The consultation was backed by trade groups.
Marshall Bain, president of the SLTA, said: “We welcome this; we want our staff to be looked after.
“It’s also good to get this issue out in the open.”
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the SBPA, also welcomed the consultation.
“Bar staff, shop workers and door security are legally required to ask for proof of age from anyone who appears under the age of 25, it is only right for them to be afforded the appropriate protection when doing so,” she said.
“It is unacceptable for anyone to receive abuse, verbal or physical, for simply doing their job and implementing the law.”
Willie Macleod, executive director for Scotland at the BHA, said: “There are already protections that exist but there are still incidents that happen. We would support the strengthening of those protections.”