Compensation levels for discrimination claims rise

Since the abolition of Employment Tribunal fees, the number of claims being brought has increased exponentially by over 165%. In addition to various other changes taking effect in April, the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals (England & Wales) and (Scotland) have also now announced increases in the Vento guidelines.

The Vento guidelines are used to calculate compensation for ‘injury to feelings’ in discrimination and certain whistleblowing claims. The new bandings, effective from 6 April 2019, are as follows:

  • Lower band (less serious cases): £900 to £8,800
  • Middle band: £8,800 to £26,300
  • Upper band (the most serious cases): £26,300 to £44,000

The injury to feelings award is in addition to any financial compensation, and the total compensation is potentially uncapped. Unlike unfair dismissal cases, there is no minimum length of service required to bring a claim for discrimination (and indeed discrimination claims can be brought by job applicants and ex-employees). Furthermore, employment tribunal decisions are now available online to anyone, so there is also a significant reputational risk.

It is more important than ever for employers to consider their obligations and to take specialist employment law advice. Employers should also:

  • Have a well drafted Equal Opportunities policy, containing all necessary information
  • Ensure that all staff are regularly trained on equality and discrimination law
  • Treat all job applicants, workers and employees fairly and consistently
  • Consider the equalities framework and guidance (including the EHRC Code of Practice) throughout the employment relationship from recruitment to termination

For more information about how to protect your organisation, please contact Jamie Meechan.

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