Call for common policies on violence against staff

A significant proportion of employers are breaking the law by not keeping
records of violent incidents and not having policies in place which deal with
aggressive behaviour.

A survey of 200 HR professionals shows that 35 per cent of organisations do
not keep records of incidents such as verbal and physical attacks by the
public, and 25 per cent do not have policies to deal with aggression.

The research, by the University of Central Lancashire and recruitment
specialist Lawrence Allison Group, shows that the highest proportion of
responses were from four occupational sectors, including retail, health and
social care, manufacturing and local government.

The retail sector had the highest number of incidents, categorised as verbal
abuse, threats of physical violence, acts of physical assault and physical
assaults with a weapon.

"This is a national problem, particularly in retailing, and requires a
government initiative as soon as possible," commented a retail HR manager
in the study.

The report, Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace, urges employers to
implement zero-tolerance policies. It also calls on the Government to produce a
consistent set of guidelines for employers that would enable them to develop
effective monitoring and training systems.

Co-author Tom Swan said, "Conflict resolution procedures can increase
staff morale, reduce sickness and stress levels and enable organisations to
comply with health and safety regulations and human rights legislation."

Commenting on the research, Jim White, director of HR at Safeway, said,
"Retailers are on the front line of shop crime. Statistics show that you
are more likely to be injured in the workplace through dealing with customer
theft than any other activity."

Safeway has prepared 1,400 staff for incidents through its managing theft
and conflict in the workplace course.

By Mike broad

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