On 26 March 2021, the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales and Scotland issued joint presidential guidance updating the Vento guidelines for injury to feelings awards.
Injury to feelings is a discretionary award that a Tribunal can make as part of the compensation package, in the event of a successful claim for discrimination. It is not intended to be punitive and is focused on compensating the victim for the effect that the unlawful acts of discrimination have had on the individual. As such, the Tribunal will take into account factors such as the vulnerability of the individual, the severity of the acts of discrimination and the impact that this has had on the victim.
Whilst personal injury awards can also be pursued in the Tribunal they rarely are, as there is a significant degree of overlap with an injury to feelings award and the Tribunal must ensure that the individual does not receive double recovery on account of the same impact.
The new Vento bands apply to claims on or after 6 April 2021 and are as follows:
- Lower Band - £900 - £9,100 (less serious cases, typically one-off occurrences)
- Middle Band - £9,100 - £27,400 (cases that do not warrant an award in the upper band)
- Upper Band - £27,400 – £45,600 (most serious offences such as campaigns of discrimination)
The above bands are guidelines only, and Tribunals do have the discretion to award more than £45,600 in exceptional and extremely severe circumstances.
This change coincides with a marked increase in the number of discrimination claims being issued in Employment Tribunals. We anticipate seeing more discrimination claims arising from employment related decisions taken during the Covid-19 pandemic. Examples may include claims for indirect sex discrimination on the basis of refusing to furlough female employees with childcare responsibilities, or those who were shielding as a result of a disability.
This is a timely reminder to employers to review and update their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training. Not only can this support the “all reasonable steps” defence, which we covered recently in our blog on the importance of workplace training, but also to reduce the risk of discrimination taking place in the workplace.
If you require any assistance with any matters, claims or issues relating to discrimination in the workplace, or would like help to review your current policies please contact a member of our Employment Team and we will be happy to assist.
This article contains a general overview of information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.