Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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Are your staff at risk from abusive customers?

Sam Purvis, Managing Director at The Compass Partnership, HR, employment law and learning & development specialist, discusses how a company can ensure its employees are not subjected to physical or verbal abuse by its customers.


Are your staff at risk from abusive customers? f
Sam Purvis

Ensuring that customers receive the highest levels of professional and courteous service is essential to maintaining a first-class business reputation. This is not just imperative from a commercial point of view but also for attracting and retaining the best employee talent.

Being customer-facing in any form can be a highly rewarding role, but it can also bring risks when employees are subjected to physical or verbal abuse from angry or frustrated customers.

Under health and safety legislation, an employer has a statutory duty to protect staff and provide a safe working environment, which includes taking steps to assess any risk and prevent foreseeable harm. Where a risk is identified, the employer must take all reasonable steps to eliminate or prevent the risk from occurring.

Whether staff work in an environment where risks to their physical safety are higher, such as in hospitality where customers consuming alcohol can become physically abusive, to employees handling calls and interacting with customers who may encounter verbal abuse – the process and legal expectation for identifying the risk and preventing it is the same.

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Aside from the reputational damage that could occur, the impact on levels of employee satisfaction, motivation and staff turnover could have a very detrimental effect on the organisation. Sickness absence levels and even employment tribunal claims could also increase.

When the Equality Act 2010 was first introduced, the legislation included protection from third-party harassment, which was repealed shortly afterwards. However, in its July 2021 response to the consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace, the government proposed the introduction of specific workplace protection against third-party harassment. Without such legislation, it becomes more difficult for employees to hold their employers accountable for discrimination or harassment by third parties. A confirmed date for when the new third-party harassment laws will come into effect is not yet known.

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Most employers make the protection of their staff a priority without the need to do so from a legislative point of view. Detailed and regular risk assessments alongside specific employee training on how to respond to and de-escalate abusive or aggressive behaviour from customers, as well as visitors to business premises, is a must.

Employees should also be made aware of any employee support groups that are available to them, who to speak to regarding any concerns, where and how to report any incidents, and the process for making a complaint. Regular people manager training in how to identify, respond to, and handle the abuse of team members by customers or visitors is also critically important.

To find out how The Compass Partnership can support your business with all its HR needs, email Sam directly at or for more information on The HR Toolkit, visit

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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