New Vento Bands For Injury to Feelings Awards

There are new ‘Vento’ guidelines for injury to feelings awards in discrimination claims presented after 6 April 2019.

The new bands are:

  • lower band (less serious cases): £900 to £8,800
  • middle band: £8,800 to £26,300
  • upper band (the most serious cases): £26,300 to £44,000

This annual update to the Vento guidelines, setting out the bands of awards for injury to feelings, adjusted for inflation, is taken into account by Tribunals when considering what to award for damages in discrimination cases as a remedy for the hurt, humiliation and degradation suffered by the employee and is considered separately from any claim for financial loss such as loss of earnings.

The EqA 2010, most of which took effect on 1 October 2010, brought together and strengthened the previous discrimination legislation. It is concerned with discrimination in respect of the “protected characteristics” of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

An employer can be “vicariously liable” for discrimination or harassment committed by an employee in the course of employment. However, there is a defence available to an employer if it can show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from doing the discriminatory act or from doing anything of that description, commonly known as a “statutory defence”.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) help? 

At Employment Law Services (ELS) we can offer advice and support to Employers to help them to ensure they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination including, drafting appropriate HR policies and procedures, offering training courses and e-learning on equality and diversity and bullying and harassment and support with any individual issues that you may encounter.

If you are an employer who requires assistance with any of the issues raised in this blog contact us today for your free consultation 0800 612 4772.



The new bands are:


Discrimination because of religion or belief

All employers should already be aware that treating an employee differently because they are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, black, white etc can result in legal action. But, can you be accused of discriminating against another person’s philosophical belief’s?

“Religious or philosophical belief” is one of the 9 protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. And unlike the rest, it can be a difficult one to define. As a result of this, the Employment Tribunal has heard many interesting complaints over the years from disgruntled employees arguing that their beliefs should be protected.

Cases from the past have established that various belief systems may be afforded protection under legislation. This came after the Tribunal held that beliefs in climate change, Rastafarianism and anti-hunting should be protected. Since then, it has been extended further to protect beliefs in higher purposes of public-service broadcasting as well as mediums and their ability to contact the dead.

Yet, there have also been some memorable failures in the system when establishing that a belief meets the foundations for discrimination protection.

For example, a belief that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and 7/7 were authorised by the British and American Governments and that there was a worldwide media conspiracy, failed on the grounds that upon objective scrutiny, such beliefs were “absurd” and not cogent.

As well as this, a belief that people should wear a remembrance poppy from 2nd November until remembrance Sunday, was not enough to be considered as weighty and substantial to qualify.

Furthermore, the objection made to same-sex couples adopting children was held as a mere opinion and not a philosophical belief.

This blog should help guide employers through this legal minefield.

Discrimination defined

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have.

Discrimination by association

This is applied to age, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment and sex.

Perception discrimination

Applies to age, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment, and sex. This is direct discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a particular protected characteristic. It applies even if the person does not actually possess that characteristic.

Indirect discrimination

Applies to age, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, disability and gender reassignment. Indirect discrimination can occur when you have a condition, rule, policy or even a practice in your company that applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination can be justified if you can show that you acted reasonably in managing your business, i.e. that it is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”

What amounts to a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010?

In the case of Grainger PLC v Nicholson, the Employment Tribunal set out 5 aspects on how to recognise a philosophical belief and concluded that the belief should be:

• Genuinely held;
• A belief and not just an opinion;
• A belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
• Sufficiently cogent, serious, cohesive and important;
• A belief that is worth of respect in a democratic society and compatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others.

Employer considerations

Most employers will already know that they have a duty to prevent discrimination in the workplace. Failure to do so can be costly and result in increased employee turnover and absenteeism, lower employee morale and productivity and high insurance costs.

Employers should take action to prevent discrimination from occurring in the first place. To achieve this, we advise you take the following steps:

(1) Familiarise yourself with all anti-discrimination laws;
(2) Develop and roll out a diverse anti-discrimination policy;
(3) Ensure all staff are sufficiently trained on anti-discrimination;
(4) Be ready to investigate complaints of discrimination or harassment;
(5) Examine all business decisions for unintentional discrimination.

How can Employment Law Services (ELS) help?

If you are an employer who requires assistance with any of the issues raised in this blog contact us today for your free consultation 0370 218 5662.

Government Equalities Office has published new guidance on dress codes & sex discrimination

Setting a workplace dress code – your responsibilities as an employer

Dress codes are seen as a legitimate part of an employer’s terms and conditions. There are many different reasons why employees may be asked to wear a uniform. For example, an employee may be asked to wear a uniform to communicate a corporate image and ensure that its customers/clients can easily recognise them. However, it is important that this dress code does not discriminate, for example, allowing both men and women to wear trousers in the workplace.

Government guidelines state employers should avoid gender prescriptive requirements. For example, any requirement to wear make-up, have manicured nails, wear hair in certain styles or to wear specific types of hosiery and skirts will be viewed as unlawful, assuming there is no equivalent requirement for men. These guidelines state further: “A dress code that requires all employees to dress smartly would be lawful, provided the definition of smart is reasonable.”

Health & Safety

When setting a dress code, employers should consider any health and safety implications. For example, if your employees are required to wear particular shoes (as part of a dress code rather than for PPE purposes).

Reasonable adjustments for disabled employees

Where an individual meets the definition of a disabled person under the Equality Act 2010, employers will be required to make reasonable adjustments to any elements of the job which may place a disabled employee at a disadvantage in comparison to a non-disabled person.

Transgender employees

Transgender people are those who have gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex. Many of whom will undergo the process of aligning their life and physical identity to match their gender identity – this is called transitioning.

Government guidelines state: “Transgender employees should be allowed to follow the organisations dress code in a way which they feel matches their gender identity. If there is a staff uniform, they should be supplied with an option which suits them.”

Dress codes and religion

An employer’s uniform requirements must not be discriminatory in respect of the protected characteristics governed under the Equality Act 2010 – religion being one of these characteristics.

Guidelines provide that employers should be flexible and not set dress codes which prohibit religious symbols that do not interfere with an employee’s work.

Frequently asked questions by employers

“Is it lawful for an employer to set dress codes for men and women?”

Employers can regulate what their employees wear to work to a certain extent. However, men and women should be treated equally. For example, if you require male employees to wear a shirt and tie, then it would not be unlawful to ask female employees to dress in smart office attire.

“Is it lawful to ask a female employee to wear high heels to work?”

It is likely to be viewed as unlawful asking a female to wear heels to work, due to the discomfort and health complications that come with high heels, there is also no male equivalent.