Injury to Feelings Claims and Increases in The Vento Bands
A tribunal may make an award for injury to feelings to compensate for the consequences of discrimination. This can include distress, humiliation or anxiety caused as a result of the respondent’s behaviour. This is quite separate from financial loss. An award for injury to feelings can be made even when there is no financial loss.
The employment tribunal, when determining an award for injury to feelings, assesses whether - and to what extent - the claimant’s feelings were injured. The tribunal can be assisted by testimony from the claimant, their family and friends and medical professionals about the experiences. The tribunal will then determine the amount of compensation to be awarded. Various factors will be taken into account when considering an award for injury to feelings.
Those might include:
the degree of distress/upset caused;
how the respondent dealt with any grievance brought by the claimant;
the seriousness of what happened;
any medical condition from which the claimant is suffering;
whether the claimant has suffered from panic attacks, stress or lack of confidence;
whether the claimant was dismissed; and
the period of the discrimination.
In 2002, the Court of Appeal in the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police took the step of setting out guidelines on the amounts of compensation that should be paid out in such cases.
This guidance, known as the Vento guidelines, divides injury to feelings into three categories or bands and advised on the amount of the award that should be made in each case, depending on how serious the tribunal viewed the injury to feelings to be.
From 6th April 2021, the Vento bands have been updated to account for changes in the RPI All Items Index and will apply to claims presented on or after that date.
The lower band now covers awards from £900 to £9,100 and is for cases that are generally regarded as less serious; those might be isolated instances or a one-off occurrence.
The middle band covers awards from £9,100 to £27,400. This band is for cases that are more serious than the lower band but do not, in the view of the tribunal, warrant inclusion in the highest band.
The highest band is for awards between £27,400 and £45,600. As can be imagined, this level of award is for the most serious cases, where there has been a prolonged campaign of discrimination.
In the most exceptional cases, the award will be capable of exceeding £45,600.
In addition, tribunals have a certain amount of flexibility within each band when setting levels of compensation so that judges can take into account all the circumstances of the case in question.