Increase to value of discrimination claims

The Presidents of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales have increased the bands according to which compensation for injury to feelings awards are calculated.

A Claimant that has successfully argued that they have suffered a discriminatory act or acts by their employer is able to apply for an award for the injury caused to their feelings. The amount of compensation awarded in this respect is determined at the discretion of the Employment Judge dependent on their view of the severity of the injury with reference to guideline bandings of compensation.

These bandings of compensation, set in 2002, are known as the “Vento” compensation bands, named after the case from which they were devised. There are three bands of compensation, the Lower, Middle and Top Bands, set in accordance with the severity of injury.

For some time there has been debate on whether the Vento bands should be increased in line with inflation. Case law has seen increases to the bands in a piecemeal fashion over time.

New Vento Bands

After consultation, the Employment Tribunals have now consolidated the position by confirming firm changes to the level of the bands. The bands have changed as follows:

Lower Band (Less severe cases): Increase from £660 – £6,600 to £800 – £8,400

Middle Band (Severe cases): Increase from £6,600 – £19,800 to £8,400 – £25,200

Upper Band (Most severe cases): Increase from £19,800 – £33,000 to £25,200 – £42,000

Only the most exceptional of cases can exceed an award of £42,000.

The new bands have effect on cases presented on or after 11th September 2017 and they will be reviewed and, if necessary, amended in March 2018 and annually thereafter, with any new bands coming into effect in respect of claims presented on or after 6 April each year.

What does this mean for employers?

Losing a discrimination claim will now be more expensive for employers. Any employers who are defending discrimination claims which were presented after 11th September 2017 should take the increased bands into account when considering their potential liability. As a result of this increase in potential liability, now would be a good time to review equal opportunities and related policies and procedures.