After a High Court case making employers liable for staff harassment, there's a very real risk that robbery could hit you twice over if you don't take precautions
Restaurateurs risk claims of negligence if they fail to protect their staff against robberies, according to law firm Mace & Jones. There is some evidence to suggest that the introduction of chip and PIN has been so effective – with major high street banks already making savings of £320million – that gangs are robbing premises for cash instead, the company said.
Head of Employment Law Martin Edwards said the vulnerability of staff handling large amounts of cash late at night had come to his attention after a spate of raids in West Didsbury, south Manchester, where, within an eight week period last year, 12 restaurants and bars were attacked, with a focus on cashing-up time.
Robbers used guns, knives, screwdrivers and axes to scare staff. In one instance a kitchen porter was hit over the head with an iron bar and stabbed in the leg.
Edwards said, "Employers need to assess the risk their business may be under from a robbery. If they or neighbouring busineses have fallen prey to attacks then it is wise to seek advice from the police as to what to do.
Ultimately employers have a duty of care to their staff. If the business is under increased risk of attack and the employer fails to properly train and protect their staff, they risk being accused of negligence if a robbery takes place."
Employees who sustain an injury as a result, whether physical or mental, could claim personal injury against their employer if they can prove they haven't done enough to protect their staff.
Mark Hatfield, Partner at Mace & Jones, said that even if there haven't been any attacks in the area, all restaurateurs should show that they have taken steps to minimise the risks.
"At the very minimum employers should go for the low-cost option of getting the police in to talk to staff for some sort of training."
Employers could also consider security measures such as a doorman, if that suits the establishment, or CCTV cameras, added Hatfield. It's also important to look after staff if anything does happen and they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which means arranging counselling and allowing staff time off work to attend.
Hatfield warned, "The high court case where employers were made liable for staff harassment if they didn't protect them means the law is moving more towards employer liability, so they must protect themselves by being seen to protect their staff."