New laws to give Scottish shop workers additional legal protection from assault and abuse could be on the horizon, following the launch of a public consultation within the next few weeks.

The new protection of workers bill is being launched by MSP Daniel Johnson, who also led a debate in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month.

The debate took place ahead of Respect for Shopworkers’ Week (13-19 November), part of USDAW’S Freedom from Fear campaign, which is designed to highlight shopworker abuse.

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “We can see no justification for not protecting shopworkers, who perform an important role in our communities and have a legal responsibility to enforce the law on age-related sales.”

USDAW’s 2016 survey of 2,805 shopworkers showed that every minute of every day a shopworker was assaulted, threatened or abused.

According to the findings, 50% were verbally abused, 29% were threatened, 8% had been assaulted and 32% had not reported the incident.

“This must not continue and we call on the political parties in Holyrood to come together and act to improve the safety of all public-facing workers,” Hannett added.

Earlier this month a female sales assistant was left in a critical condition following a shocking incident of in-store violence.

The 63-year-old member of staff from the Catrine Convenience Store in Ayrshire was seriously assaulted by an armed robber despite handing over what is believed to have been a four-figure sum of cash.

The attack, which police are treating as attempted murder, highlighted the urgent need for change in the way in which in-store violence was dealt with, the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) said.

SGF chief executive Pete Cheema added: “We know how vulnerable shop staff can be and this shocking incident drives home how important it is to change the way we deal with in-store violence.

“The new proposals will not cover every kind of in-store incident but if taken forward they will ensure that retail crime moves up the agenda, is taken more seriously and that more effective deterrents are put in place,” he added.