The Government of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, is introducing the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Assaults on Retail Workers) Bill 2023 to curb attacks on retail workers.

The new law will see three new offences added to the Crimes Act 1900 targeting attacks on retail workers.

The reform bill covers a range of offences, including assaulting, harassing, intimidating, or throwing a “missile” at someone.

Convicted individuals will be given a maximum of four years in prison, even if the victim does not sustain any bodily harm.

Anyone found guilty of assaulting a retail worker and causing bodily harm will face a maximum penalty of up to six years in prison. Those found guilty of wounding or causing grievous bodily harm to a worker during duties will face a maximum of 11 years prison term.

Recent research from the McKell Institute showed that 85% of retail workers in Australia had been abused or assaulted on the job,

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NSW industrial relations and work health and safety minister Sophie Cotsis said: “This type of offending causes enormous distress for the shop workers, their families and the wider community and can leave lasting emotional scars, as well as those caused by injury.

“It’s crucial that people feel safe when going to work and these changes will provide a deterrent for those who would behave in this manner to people trying to provide them with a service.

“I’ve heard first-hand from retail workers who have experienced terrible abuse, which has affected their working life, this legislation signals the government’s support for our workers and their safety.”

Woolworths, which has more than 50,000 workers, also welcomed the introduction.

In 2022, the South Australian Government increased penalties for the abuse of retail workers.