I prepared recently an article focusing upon the consultation exercise in relation to compensation for injury to feelings. When dealing with different types of discrimination claim a key part of any remedy statement is a claim for damages relating to the impact of the discrimination, including how less favourable treatment has caused upset and illness. Damages for injury to feelings is not available through an Employment Tribunal for most case types, including for example a complaint of unfair dismissal.
When assessing compensation for injury to feelings, an Employment Tribunal uses the evidence available and judgement to determine an appropriate figure, but the Tribunal is assisted by guidelines derived from higher court authorities. Within the Tribunal system these are known as the Vento bands, derived from the case of the same name.
The consultation exercise has been completed and the President of the Employment Tribunal has issued a statement confirming that new bands for assessment will apply to any claims issued in the Tribunal on or after 11 September 2017. The new bands will be as follows:-
- Lower band (less serious cases) – £800.00 to £8,400.00
- Middle band – £8,400.00 to £25,200.00
- Upper band (the most serious cases) – £25,200.00 to £42,000.00
- Exceptional cases – over £42,000.00.
The bands will now be reviewed on an annual basis, commencing in March 2018. The increases announced on 4 September 2017 are significant, but the level of compensation has been in need of review and increase for some time. There are Tribunal cases involving discrimination which fall within the lower band, but my view is that the majority of cases can be categorised as falling within the middle band. Therefore, it is of note that for such claims the lower level of payment will now be over £8,000.00 (rather than £6,000.00), and the upper level for middle band cases will be over £25,000.00.
Part of the approach when dealing with discrimination claims is for Tribunal remedies to involve a deterrent to ensure that the important social policy involving discrimination issues are adhered to by employers. I take the view that the levels of compensation now published by the Tribunal will act as a meaningful deterrent, and will ensure that those who are the victim of discrimination receive proper levels of compensation going forward.
The decision to review the rates on an annual basis is also welcomed to ensure that compensation levels keep pace with inflation.