Monday, 11 January 2010

Crimes against fashion . . .

Forget those shell suits and muffin tops – there are a few more serious crimes against fashion to think about. The number of thefts from retail shops has risen by a massive third in one year (according to the results of a survey published by the British Retail Consortium last week). The survey also highlighted that violence and abuse against shop staff has doubled in the last year, with physical violence rising by 58% and verbal abuse rising by 37%.

However, the number of incidences of violence or abuse against staff may actually be higher as many victims do not report them to their employers.

Fashionista notes that employers owe certain duties towards their employees in such circumstances, even where the offences are carried out by customers/thieves rather than the employers or their staff. For example, employers have legal obligations to provide employees with a safe workplace, a safe system of work and a suitable working environment and they also have a duty of trust and confidence to uphold, otherwise they could find themselves in breach of the implied terms of contracts with employees and subject to oh so unfashionable tribunal claims.

Further, if harassment of staff is on the basis of, for example, sex or race, employers are also under an obligation to take reasonable steps to protect their employees from such harassment - or face a potential discrimination claim.

Employers should therefore not ignore incidences of violence or abuse by customers (or thieves) in shops. Crimes against fashion (the abusive and violent kind, rather than the socks with sandals type) should not be tolerated and should not go unreported to the police. Employees should be encouraged to report incidences to their employers and should be supported (for example, they could be provided with alarms or special training as necessary). Fashionista, of course, is always a model customer.