The Presidents of the Employment Tribunals (England & Wales, and Scotland) have issued Presidential Guidance updating the Vento bands which apply to damages for injury to feelings arising out of discrimination cases. The new bands, effective for claims issued on or after 6 April 2020, are as follows:-
- A lower band of £900 to £9,000 for the less serious cases
- A middle band of £9,000 to £27,000 for serious cases
- An upper band of £27,000 to £45,000 for the most serious cases, with exceptional cases being capable of exceeding £45,000.
These figures take account of the 10% uplift from Simmons v Castle.
Where do the Vento bands come from?
The genesis of the Vento bands goes back to the Court of Appeal’s decision in Vento v The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (No 2) in which the Court of Appeal identified three bands of potential awards for the injury to feelings element of discrimination claims.
The lower band applies to “less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one off occurrence”. The middle band “should be used for serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band”, and the upper band is imposed in “the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment”. An award of compensation for injury to feelings that exceeds this top band will only be made in the most exceptional cases.
What does this mean for employers?
The increased awards highlight the significant financial liabilities to which employers can be exposed for successful claims of discrimination. Employers would be well advised to ensure that they are taking all possible steps to prevent unlawful discrimination from occurring in the workplace. This should include keeping relevant procedures under review and adopting up-to-date policies.
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