In Employment Tribunal claims for discrimination, if the claim succeeds the Employment Tribunal has the power to make an award of compensation for something called ‘injury to feelings’. Injury to feelings compensation is assessed in ‘bands’, using the guidelines that were established in a landmark case called Vento. The Vento bands will be increasing for cases brought on or after 6 April 2023, but we wanted to explain what they are, how they’re applied and what the 2023 rates will be.
The Vento bands are named after a landmark case from 2003 (Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police) where the Court of Appeal set out clear guidelines for courts and Tribunals to apply when they are assessing injury to feelings awards.
What are the Vento Bands for compensation for injury to feelings?
1. the lowest band – this will be for the least serious cases, such as where the discriminatory act is a one-off.
2. the middle band – serious cases, but ones where an award in the highest band would not be appropriate.
3. the highest band – these are the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment which has a profound effect on the victim.
What are the new Vento Bands rates that apply for cases brought on or after 6 April 2023
- a lower band of £1,100 to £11,200
- · a middle band of £11,200 to £33,700
- · an upper band of £33,700 to £56,200 with only the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £56,200
What does injury to feelings mean?
In most employment claims, such as unfair dismissal and breach of contract, most of the compensation is based on financial losses. With discrimination cases, things work slightly differently. Although employees can be awarded compensation for financial losses in discrimination claims, they can also claim an award for ‘injury to feelings’ under the Equality Act 2010.
Compensation for injury to feelings is intended to reflect the injury to feelings that the employee has suffered, rather than being a punishment to the employer. It is not the same as a personal injury claim, as no medical injury is required (personal injury awards can be made in discrimination cases, but that is a subject for another article!).
What factors should be considered in an injury to feeling case?
- the vulnerability of the employee (including whether they suffer from a medical condition)
- · whether the employee has suffered things like stress, anxiety and/or damage to their personal relationships
- · the degree of hurt, distress or upset caused
- · the position of the person who was found to be discriminating (e.g. whether they were more senior than the victim)
- · the way in which the employer dealt with any complaint that was made by the employee
- · the seriousness of the treatment
The size or resources of the employer’s business is not relevant, because the award is only designed to reflect the effect on the victim.