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When dealing with complaints, there is no need for you to accept personal abuse. With any complaint, it's likely to have raised voices, and this is the way of the person venting their frustration. With good customer service skills, you can reduce the chance of a person who is complaining crossing the line to abusing you, but this can happen.

When complaints turn to abuse, you may have a security team that you can alert, or if it is a phone call, you may have a policy where you pass the call to a manager or terminate the call. When you deal with any situation that turns to personal abuse, you should document the contact with the person and also what was said and report it to your manager. Your workplace will have a policy on how to deal with abuse, and the policy will usually state that you would not usually be expected to put up with abuse.

There is a legal duty for employers to safeguard employees against abuse. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, states that employers have a legal duty, under this act, to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety and welfare of their workers when at work.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, also refers to the safety of workers. Under this act, employers must consider the risks to workers, including the risk of reasonably foreseeing violence, decide how significant these risks are, decide what to do to prevent or control the risk, and develop a clear management plan to achieve this. There are many other acts that must be followed, all are aimed at protecting employees against abuse and violence.

Finally, it's worth defining harassment and violence. The European Agreement recognises that harassment and violence can be physical, psychological, and sexual. Be one off incidents or more systemic patterns of behaviour. Be amongst colleagues, between superiors, or by third parties such as clients, customers, patients, and pupils. And finally, it can range from minor cases of disrespect to more serious acts, including criminal offences which require the intervention of public authorities.