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Employment tribunals - discrimination - calculating compensation for injury to feelings

If you win a discrimination claim, an employment tribunal can award you compensation for injury to feelings as well as for your financial losses. This means you receive compensation for the upset, hurt and distress the discrimination has caused you.

This page explains how much compensation you should ask the employment tribunal to give you for injury to feelings. You could also use this figure to negotiate with your employer if you're trying to settle your discrimination claim without going to a tribunal.

Guidelines on how much compensation an employment tribunal will give you for injury to feelings

Tribunals use guidelines called the Vento guidelines to decide how much they should award for injury to feelings. The Vento guidelines are split into three bands depending on how serious the tribunal considers the injury to feelings to be. These are:

The top band

The tribunal can award between £25,200 and £42,000 (£18,000 and £30,000 if you made your claim before 11 September 2017) in the most serious cases of discrimination. This could be, for example, where you've suffered a long campaign of discrimination or harassment.

The middle band

The tribunal can award between £8,400 and £25,200 (£6,000 and £18,000 if you made your claim before 11 September 2017) in cases which are serious but don't fall into the top band. They might include a serious one-off act of harassment or a lengthy but less serious act of discrimination. This band also covers cases where the discrimination was relatively minor but led to you losing your job.

The lower band

The tribunal can award between £800 and £8,400 (£500 and £6,000 if you made your claim before 11 September 2017) in less serious cases of discrimination, such as a one-off act of relatively minor harassment or discrimination.

What affects how much compensation a tribunal will give for injury to feelings

A tribunal awards you compensation for injury to feelings to compensate you for the way your feelings have been hurt. The compensation isn't to punish your employer for discriminating against you.

The tribunal will take the Vento guidelines into account, but it's important for you to give evidence to the tribunal about:

  • what happened to you
  • how the discrimination affected you
  • how the discrimination made you feel.

Family, friends, medical professionals or support workers may also be able to provide evidence to support your claim.

A tribunal will take a measured and methodical approach when they assess how much to award you for injury to feelings. For example, for the past several years, a typical award for injury to feelings has been about £5,000.

Are you particularly vulnerable?

If you're particularly vulnerable, you might be more badly affected than someone else. If so, you would be able to ask for a higher amount for injury to feelings.

A tribunal may consider you to be particularly vulnerable if, for example, you already had a stress-related illness when you experienced the discrimination, or you're pregnant or disabled.

Have you suffered discrimination which has resulted in a personal injury?

Sometimes an act of discrimination may go beyond injury to feelings and cause actual injury to your mental or physical health. This could result, for example, in a psychiatric illness. This is known as a personal injury.

If you suffer a personal injury, a tribunal could award you compensation that falls in the top band of the Vento guidelines. This is because there's sometimes a fine line between serious injury to feelings and injury to mental health.

However, a tribunal can also give you additional and separate compensation for the injury to your health. If you're claiming more money because your mental or physical health was injured by the discrimination you experienced, you'll need to provide detailed medical evidence to support your claim.

Has your employer acted particularly badly over the discrimination?

The tribunal may give a higher award for injury to feelings if you can show that the discrimination has had a greater effect on you because your employer:

  • dealt with an earlier act of discrimination badly
  • failed to address a grievance about discrimination
  • tried to cover up the discrimination
  • failed to admit that discrimination took place
  • treated you badly because you complained, or tried to complain, about the discrimination.

If your employer has discriminated deliberately against you or acted in a malicious, insulting, high-handed or oppressive manner when they defend your claim against them, this may cause you further injury to feelings. If you can show this has happened, a tribunal may award you an amount in the top band of the Vento guidelines. In England and Wales, the tribunal can also make an award of aggravated damages. Aggravated damages are not available in Scotland but the injury to feelings award can include recognition of this type of behaviour.

Next steps

Other useful information

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

If you've experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

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