Compensation in the Employment Tribunal is generally based upon actual financial loss. However, in discrimination and detriment for making a protected disclosure claims (colloquially known as whistleblowing) a worker can claim compensation for ‘injury to feelings’. Injury to feelings cannot be claimed for standalone unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal claims.
Injury to feelings is a sum of money designed to compensate the employee for their suffering as a result of the discrimination or detriment they incurred rather than designed to punish the discriminator. This element is very fact specific and will be unique to the individual claimant but it will take into account factors such as the degree of suffering, upset, anxiety, humiliation, stress and the seriousness of the treatment.
The case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police 2002 provides handy guidance for considering the injury to feelings element. The Court of Appeal set down three bands of injury to feelings award. These are commonly known as the ‘Vento bands’:-
Lower band: This is generally for one off acts of discrimination. The recommended rates from 6 April 2021 are £900 – £9,100.
Middle band: This is for serious cases that do not merit an award in the higher band. The recommended rates are £9,100 – £27,400.
Higher band: This band is only to be applied in the most serious cases. For example, such as when there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment. The recommended rates are £27,400 – £45,000. However, the Tribunal has discretion to make awards exceeding the recommended rates.