Thursday, May 30, 2024

Industry calls for health and wellbeing support

The National Retail Association is urging the Federal Government to support the health of the nation’s retail workers, who are increasingly facing physical and mental wellbeing issues in the wake of the pandemic.

The release of the AIHW Australia’s Health 2022 report card revealed increasing rates of obesity and psychological distress among Australians, and as the country’s largest employers, the retail sector is concerned about the mental and physical health of its employees and its subsequent impact on productivity.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb says that Covid-19 brought the physical and mental wellbeing of retail workers to the forefront of public attention, but it is now being overlooked.

“As the largest employer of young people in the country there is an opportunity to address physical and mental health issues in the younger generation before poor choices become long-standing habits well into adulthood,” she says.

Vulnerable workers

Ms Lamb says the nature of retail work leaves workers vulnerable to adverse health risks.

“Retail workers are exposed to greater societal issues that other industries are not, creating serious health issues and poor lifestyle choices which is often compounded by the nature of the work.

“Risks like retail crime, customer aggression and abuse are viewed differently than in other sectors. Many see customer aggression as simply ‘part of the job’, which is why the sector is often overlooked.”

Ms Lamb says retail workers are more likely to make poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor nutrition and inadequate exercise than other cohorts.

“Lower paid workers do not have access to the health resources that higher paid workers might have, which is reflected in the AIHW’s report that implies people in lower socioeconomic positions have poorer health,” she says.

Support needed

58 per cent of NRA’s members agree the government should invest in campaigns to improve the health and nutrition of retail workers.

“Retail workers are essential workers who play a vital role in feeding and supplying the nation, and it is time they are given the support and recognition they deserve,” Ms Lamb said.

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