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UK HR E-briefing: Newsflash: Guidelines for discrimination compensation set to increase from 11 September 2017

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law - HR E-Brief


The Equality Act 2017 provides that financial compensation may be an appropriate remedy for a successful claim of discrimination and that this may extend beyond mere financial loss to damages for injury to feelings, including, for example, distress, anxiety and loss of confidence.

However, the legislation does not elaborate upon how employment tribunals should approach the question of injury to feelings compensation nor its calculation. These issues have therefore fallen to the courts to determine and, in the landmark case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (no 2) in 2003, the Court of Appeal helpfully set out guidelines for assessing such compensation according to the circumstances. These guidelines are referred to as “Vento bands” and have provided the basis for injury to feelings compensation ever since. So, for example, Vento guidelines established that the appropriate upper limit upon injury to feelings compensation should normally be between £15,000 and £25,000 (without uplift) in the most serious cases, whilst less serious cases might attract compensation in the lowest band of circa £500 to £5,000.

Increased compensation guidance

Whilst the Vento bands have been adjusted to keep up with inflation since the original case, in July this year further changes were proposed in a judicial consultation. Today, following that consultation process, new Presidential Guidance is published and confirms increased compensation bands will apply to discrimination claims presented on or after 11 September, 2017. The Guidance is being published jointly between the Scottish and English and Welsh tribunals. Judicial discretion will be applied for cases which preceded these new rates and, going forwards, this Presidential Guidance and the recommended bands of compensation will be reviewed annually in March.

The effect of the new guidance is that, from 11 September, the appropriate evaluation of injury to feelings compensation will start with the original Vento figures multiplied by the Retail Price Index of inflation. In England and Wales only, a further uplift of 10% must then be applied before the final figure is rounded up or down to the nearest £100. whilst ultimate assessment of appropriate compensation will lie with the tribunal, this process will produce the following revised Vento bands until further review next year:

Lower band (less serious cases): £800 to £8,400
Middle band (cases that do not merit an award in the upper band): £8,400 to £25,200; and
Upper band (the most serious cases): £25,200 to £42,000 1.


1    This upper band will only be exceeded in exceptional cases.