A bill calling for tougher penalties for assaults on shop workers has been proposed in Scottish Parliament.

The bill, which is being brought by Hugh Henry MSP, calls for the assault of shop workers to be recognised as an aggravated crime, as it currently is for emergency service employees under the Emergency Workers Act 2005.

Proposing the bill, Henry said: “Violent physical assaults against workers serving the public in Scotland are an all too common phenomenon. Progress has been made in strengthening criminal penalties for assaults against some workers, too many still lack sufficient protection at work.

“The Emergency Workers Act 2005 sought to provide additional protection to certain groups of workers by introducing tougher penalties for those found guilty of assaulting, hindering or obstructing those workers,” he added. “This proposed legislation seeks to apply these protections to any worker who provides a face-to-face service to the public.”

Retail workers union USDAW said the bill was badly needed. “Shop workers provide a vital service to the public but they are all too often seen as an easy target for violence and abuse,” said USDAW general secretary Hannett. “Our latest survey showed that one in 10 shop workers has been assaulted while at work. We have already started campaigning for a similar law in England and Wales.”

The bill is due to be drafted in May of this year and is being supported by workers’ unions USDAW, UNITE, UNISON, CWU and ASLEF.