Increase in Discrimination Awards (Vento) in the Employment Tribunal. – Andrew Perriman, Consultant

Discrimination awards in Employment Tribunals have had somewhat of an errant approach in recent times. Settlement came in the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police in 2003, whereby a three band system (Vento Bands) was put in place and compensation awards for injury to feelings were categorised. These were:

Lower band (for the least serious cases, e.g. a one-off or isolated incident of discrimination) up to £5,000
Middle band (which is used for serious cases that do not merit an award in the highest band) – £5,000 to £15,000

Top band (for the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment. – £15,000 to £25,000.

The guidelines suggest that only in the most exceptional case should an award of compensation for injury to feelings exceed £25,000.

In 2009 the case of Da’Bell v National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children reviewed these guidelines and applied an increase to the respective bands to reflect the fact that no increase had taken place for a number of years and subsequently they were increased to:

Lower Band – up to £6,000

Middle Band – £6,000 to £18,000

Top Band – £18,000 to £30,000

They tribunals retained that in the most exceptional case should an award of compensation for injury to feelings exceed £30,000.

Following the Da’Bell case the Bands underwent changes through caselaw, however there were inconsistencies across the board, for example in the case of Simmons v Castle [2012], it was identified that the Bands should have a 10% uplift to take into account inflation and other factors.

The President of the Employment Tribunal in England and Wales has now finalised a consultation on the Vento Bands and concluded that an increase will be applied from 11 September 2017 (not applied retrospectively) to these bands and subsequent reviews will now take place yearly. The next review taking place in March 2018. As a result the new “Vento Bands” will increase to the following:

Lower Band – £800 to £8,400

Middle Band – £8,400 to £25,200

Top Band – £25,200 to £42,000

With the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £42,000.

This naturally increases the amount of any award that an employer may face when dealing with a discrimination claim and there are many factors to consider when determining where a discrimination case sits within the bands. That is why we offer expertise and technical know-how of such cases and can assist employers in dealing with such claims should they be made. Do not leave it to chance, get early advice.

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