No worker deserves a serve when they’re at work.
Yet over 85% of retail and fast food workers are abused at work.
That’s not okay.
From swearing and yelling to spitting and threatening behaviour, there’s no excuse for the increasing amount of physical and verbal abuse that retail and fast food workers deal with on a daily basis.
This kind of abuse has an effect on workers’ physical and psychological well-being and can impact other aspects of their lives.
That’s why the SDA is running a nationwide campaign to prevent and eliminate customer abuse and violence from workplaces.
We’re pushing for industry-wide change to build better protections for workers and seeking to change public attitudes and behaviours towards retail workers.
Frequently Asked Questions
If a customer is harassing you it’s important to stay as calm as possible.
Don’t try to address the situation on your own. Call for a supervisor or your manager to come assist you with the customer.
It’s your manager/supervisor’s responsibility to explain to the customer that behaviour is not acceptable and to warn them that any repetition will not be tolerated.
Let your SDA Delegate or Union Organiser know what has happened. They can offer you support and advice.
Make sure you report the customer(s) to management.
Tell your manager if you see a banned customer re-enter the store or if a customer harasses you outside your store. It’s important they are made aware of these situations so they can prevent these incidents in the future.
Many retail and fast food workers think abuse is just part of the job. But this is wrong.
It is a serious health and safety issue that can impact your mental and physical health. Your employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment. Being abused at work is a safety issue – just like slipping on a spill or being burned with hot oil.
We need workers to report incidents so there is a record of it happening when we approach employers about putting in place better protections for you.
If there are no reports of abusive or violent customers, they could just turn around and say ‘no it doesn’t happen here’, which makes any change for a safer store more difficult.
Yes. You can report any safety issue or hazard that you see or experience, even if it doesn’t happen to you directly.
Reporting incidents creates a record of the abuse so we can push for better protections to make your store safer. If you don’t report it – it’s like it never happened.
When someone gets injured at work, you report it. If you were to slip from a spill on the floor at work, you would report it.
Being on the receiving end or seeing abusive or violent behaviour is a safety hazard. It can have a serious impact on the mental and physical health of you and your work mates.
That’s why you should report it. For you and for your work mates.
Your employer has a legal responsibility to provide you with a safe work environment.
They should take all possible reasonable steps to prevent customer abuse and violence from occurring in the workplace.
For example, they should:
- adopt a policy that makes it clear to customers and staff that customer abuse and violence will not be tolerated
- encourage staff to report this behaviour to management
- take effective action by warning customers about their conduct and banning them if necessary
If your employer is not addressing this issue appropriately, follow your workplace grievance procedure set out in your Agreement and call the SDA on 8139 1000 for advice.
For advice and support, please call the SDA on 08 8139 1000.
Customer abuse and violence can have an impact on both your physical and mental health.
If you need professional help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au.