From 11 September, Employment Tribunals across England and Wales will be able to order higher compensation awards to victims of discrimination. Our Employment Solicitor, Alex Christen, explains what this means for employees and employers alike.

If an Employment Tribunal finds that someone has been discriminated against, it can order the person responsible (usually, but not always, the employer) to pay compensation. There are two types of compensation: compensation for lost wages, and compensation for injury to feelings. If you successfully bring a discrimination claim at an Employment Tribunal, the compensation you can expect to receive for injury to feelings will be assessed using what’ve become known as ‘Vento’ bands. 

Until 11 September, except in the most exceptional cases, the maximum compensation an Employment Tribunal can award for injury to feelings is £33,000 – that’s for serious cases of discrimination (often where there has been a sustained campaign of discriminatory treatment). 

From 11 September, the guidelines will change. The potential value of these claims will increase for employees, as will the potential liability for employers. Tribunals use these guidelines to assess how much money you could be awarded if you’re successful with your claim – from lower awards for less serious acts of discrimination (such as one off incidents or isolated events) to higher awards for ‘exceptional’ cases. The bands were originally put in place in 2002, and have steadily increased over time.

The new bands from 11 September will be:

• lower band (less serious cases): £800 to £8,400

• middle band: £8,400 to £25,200

• upper band (the most serious cases): £25,200 to £42,000

• exceptional cases: over £42,000

This is good news for anyone looking to bring a discrimination claim – particularly in light of the recent ruling on Employment Law Tribunal fees. For employers, however, it is time to prioritise training for staff on anti-discrimination laws to guard against future liability of these levels.