In discrimination claims, Claimants are able to claim non-financial losses for injury to feelings. Although the Equality Act 2010 does not provide any guidance as to how the size of an injury to feelings award is calculated, the leading case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police  EWCA Civ 1871 has provided a clear set of guidelines with three bands of potential awards:
- Lower band: less serious cases where the discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence.
- Middle band: serious cases which do not merit an award in the top band.
- Top band: the most serious cases where there has been a lengthy campaign of discrimination.
The Vento bands were initially set in 2002 and since 2017 have been adjusted on an annual basis to take into account inflation.
Following a recent announcement by the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals (England & Wales) and (Scotland), the Vento bands have been increased as follows:
- Lower band: £900-£9,000;
- Middle band: £9,000-£27,000; and
- Upper band: £27,000-£45,000.
Although the upper band has a limit of £45,000, it is possible that in the most serious cases, an award for injury to feelings could be made in excess of £45,000.
As discrimination rights apply to individuals from the recruitment process onwards, it is imperative your organisation regularly reviews its working practices, policies and procedures to ensure you are following best practice and acting within the law. Whilst many forms of discrimination are easy to identify, the effect of modern day working means it is increasingly difficult to identify indirect discrimination claims such as holiday entitlements, dress codes, working hours and staff benefits.
The new bands are applicable for any claims issued on or after 6th April 2020. As such, especially during COVID-19, you must ensure the treatment of employees is not discriminatory, including those selected to be placed on furlough leave or potentially redundancy.
Please contact us if you require any advice on any of the employment and HR issues referred to above. Please contact Sally Morris on 01905 610410 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any frequently asked questions.