New guidance has been published on the award levels for compensation for injury to feelings, known as “Vento bands”. These are named after the case in which the guidance was first set out (Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire) and are used to assess compensation for injury to feelings and psychiatric injury in discrimination and whistleblowing claims.
Such awards can be made even in cases where there has been no financial loss suffered by the claimant. The purpose of the award is to compensate for the hurt and distress suffered as a result of the discriminatory conduct, rather than to punish the employer as such, and the bands are intended to ensure that they don’t amount to a windfall for the employee.
For claims presented on or after 6 April 2022, the new Vento bands are as follows:
- a lower band of £990 to £9,900 for less serious cases
- a middle band of £9,900 to £29,600 for cases which do not merit an award in the upper band
- an upper band of £29,600 to £49,300 for the most serious cases
In theory awards are unlimited and it is possible for tribunals to award in excess of £49,300 in exceptional cases . It is for Tribunals to determine the effect of the discriminatory conduct on the individual, taking into account their particular vulnerability, any medical condition, or whether they have suffered stress or loss of confidence. The Tribunal must assess which band a case falls into, and where in the band it should sit. Although the guidance is not binding, but Tribunals must have regard to it and in practice it would be highly unusual if the Vento bands were not followed.
Since significant injury to feelings awards can be made even when there is no financial loss, it makes a discrimination claim viable for an employee who remains in their job, but considers that they have suffered from discriminatory conduct. Similarly, an employee who has left but quickly found another job with similar salary and benefits, meaning that there is little likely compensation for an unfair dismissal claim, may decide to pursue a discrimination claim where injury to feelings compensation is a potential outcome.