Increase to Vento bands announced for April 2021
Unlike unfair dismissal claims, compensation for discrimination, whistleblowing detriment and trade union membership claims can cover non-financial losses suffered by the claimant. This will often include an injury to feelings award. Importantly, compensation for injury to feelings can still be awarded where the claimant has suffered no financial loss at all.
In the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (No 2)  IRLR 102, the Court of Appeal set clear guidelines for the amount of compensation to be awarded where a claimant successfully claims injury to feelings.
The Vento bands are increased annually each April, in line with inflation, by way of Presidential guidance. There are three bands for the Tribunal to consider, being the lower band, the middle band and the top band.
When is each band relevant?
- The lower band is relevant for less serious cases, such as where the prohibited act was an isolated or one-off occurrence.
- The middle band is relevant for more serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band.
- The top band is only used for the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discrimination on the ground of sex or race.
Only in "the most exceptional case" should an award for injury to feelings exceed the top band.
What are the bands for claims presented between 6 April 2020 and 5 April 2021?
The current Vento bands are as follows:
- Lower band: £900 - £9,000
- Middle band: £9,000 - £27,000
- Upper band: £27,000 - £45,000
What will the bands for claims presented after 6 April 2021 be?
Where a claimant presents a claim after 6 April 2021, the relevant Vento bands will be:
- Lower band: £900 - £9,100
- Middle band: £9,100 - £27,400
- Upper band: £27,400 - £45,600
What other factors will the Tribunal consider?
An Employment Tribunal will consider a range of factors when determining the amount of compensation to be awarded. The Tribunal's focus will be on the effect that the prohibited treatment had on the claimant and relevant factors may include:
- The claimant's personal characteristics and how they reacted to the prohibited treatment.
- The vulnerability of the claimant.
- Any medical condition with which the claimant suffers.
- The degree of hurt, distress or upset caused.
- The position and seniority of the person who was found to be committing the prohibited act.
- The seriousness of the treatment.
- The manner in which any grievance brought by the claimant was dealt with.
What can employers take from this?
It is important for employers to be aware that even where an employee suffers no financial loss, they may still be able to claim significant compensation for injury to feelings if they have grounds to bring a discrimination, whistleblowing detriment or trade union membership claim.
Whilst the Vento bands have been in force for almost two decades, it is useful for employers to keep updated on the periodic increases in the bands, in order that they can accurately assess their potential liability in an issued claim.
This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please contact Siobhan Murphy to discuss any issues you are facing.