The costs of adding insult to injury
Following a recent consultation, the Employment Tribunals of England, Wales and Scotland have issued a joint response confirming that they will be increasing the bands of compensation for injury to feelings awards in discrimination cases (sometimes referred to as the “Vento Guidelines”) from 11 September.
Compensation can be awarded for injury to feelings in discrimination cases for the hurt and upset that an employee has suffered. This is distinct from compensation awards for personal injury or compensation for financial loss.
Guidelines for how much compensation should be awarded for injury to feelings were first set out in the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police  IRLR 102, and have since increased to account for inflation. In this case the court categorised compensation for injury to feelings into three broad bands, a lower band for less serious cases for example, an isolated incident of discrimination, an upper band for the most serious of cases where a continued pattern of discriminatory behaviour has occurred and a middle band for those cases that do not merit an award in the upper band.
This recent announcement from Tribunals means that the Guideline amounts are now as follows:
Lower Band – £800 to £8,400 (formerly £600 to £6,000)
Middle Band – £8,400 to £25,000 (formerly £6,000 to £18,000)
Upper Band – £25,200 to £42,000 (formerly £18,000 to £30,000)
These figures demonstrate a significant rise in the amount of damages available for injury to feelings. Additionally, it is worth commenting that these Guidelines are just that and in exceptional cases, an injury to feelings award could exceed £42,000. The decision to increase these bands is closely connected to the RPI meaning these bands could be reviewed again and increased in the future.
Compensation for successful discrimination claims is potentially uncapped; and there is no minimum length of service needed to bring a discrimination claim. With the bands of compensation to injury to feelings increasing and the abolition of employment tribunal fees; employers should be exercise caution in cases where discrimination is alleged. For some simple steps that employers can take to protect their business, please see our earlier update
For more information, please contact our specialist employment law team.