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Newsflash: Injury to Feelings Awards – Vento Bands to Increase

Discrimination compensation, unlike compensation for unfair dismissal, can cover both financial and non-financial losses.

In a majority of cases, such compensation will include an injury to feelings award. Unfortunately, neither the Equality Act 2010 or any previous discrimination legislation have provided guidance as to how a tribunal should evaluate injured feelings from a financial perspective and it has therefore been left to the courts to determine.

What are the Vento Guidelines?

The Vento Guidelines, derived from the leading case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (No 2) [2003] IRLR 102, set out clear guidelines for the amount of compensation to be given for injured feelings in discrimination cases.

The guidelines set out the following three bands in which awards may be issued:

  • The lower band: this is for “less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence”
  • The middle band: for “serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band”
  • The upper band: for “the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race”. Note, only in “the most exceptional case” should an award for injury to feelings exceed the upper limit of this band.

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The figures for the Vento guidelines are reviewed and updated annually to take into account inflation. The 2023 rates have now been published and for those claims presented on or after 6 April 2023, the Vento bands shall be:

  • Lower band- £1,100 to £11,200 (increased from £990 – £9,900)
  • Middle band- £11,200 to £33,700 (increased from £9,900 – £29,600)
  • Upper band- £33,700 to £56,200 (increased from £29,600 – £49,300)

It should be noted that the bands have more than doubled in value since their inception and should be viewed as a serious consideration for employers, particularly given that one off incidents now carry a potentially sizable compensatory award.

If you have any queries about injury to feeling awards, or for more information on how to best protect your business, please get in touch with Charlotte Nuttall, or another of our expert Employment Lawyers.