Injury to feelings award: an update

By September 6, 2017Employment, Legal Updates

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination in respect of the nine “protected characteristics” of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

If a claimant succeeds in a discrimination claim, an employment tribunal may:

  • Order the respondent to pay compensation. This is uncapped.
  • Make an appropriate recommendation aimed at reducing the adverse effect of the discrimination.
  • Make a declaration as to the rights of the claimant.

Compensation for discrimination can not only compensate a claimant for financial losses, but also non-financial losses including an ‘injury to feelings award’.

Since there is no legislation which sets how to calculate an injury to feelings award, the tribunal and courts have provided guidance. The case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2003] set out guidelines and three possible bands for an injury to feelings award:

  • Lower band: £500 to £5000
  • Middle band: £5000 to 15000
  • Higher band : £15000 to £25,000

Inflationary increases have been made to these bands and, more recently, the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales commenced consultation on uprating the bands of compensation.

The response to the consultation has now been published and the Presidents have decided that the bands should now be:

  • A lower band of £800 to £8,400 for less serious cases
  • A middle band of £8,400 to £25,200 for cases that do not merit an award in the upper band
  • An upper band of £25,200 to £42,000 for the most serious cases, with only the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £42,000.

It is proposed that these bands would be uprated every 12 months in line with RPI and will apply to claims presented on or after 11 September 2017.

If you would like advice on any discrimination issue or other employment matter, please do get in touch on linda.wilson@macdonaldoates.co.uk, or 01730 268211.