Claiming for Damages 

We understand that making a claim is not just about money. A successful claim can help you feel a sense of justice and closure following what may have been an upsetting experience. For some people an employment claim is also a chance to make sure your employer will treat you, or other people, better in future. 
 
However, you do need to know whether the potential damages will justify the time and cost of a case. 
 
Having an idea of the damages you could receive can be beneficial if your employer offers you a settlement agreement. We can support you through negotiating an agreement, but it will be helpful if you have reasonable expectations and a general idea of what a tribunal might offer for comparison. 

How does a tribunal decide the amount to award? 

Damages will vary depending on your claim and the details of your case. There are a few different kinds of damages that a tribunal can award - click on each one to go straight to the relevant section: 

Basic Award 

A basic award is made in cases of unfair dismissal, in addition to a compensatory award. 
 
The basic award is a fixed sum based upon your weekly pay, your age, and the amount of time you have worked for your employer. 
Half of your weekly pay for each year of service when you were under the age of 22 
One week of pay for each year you were aged between 22 and 41 
One and a half week’s pay for each year of service over the age of 41 
 
You will usually not receive a basic award if you have worked for your employer for less than one year. 
 
The amount of years’ service that can be accounted for is 20, and you may only claim a weekly amount up to £525. 

Compensatory Award 

The compensatory award is based on loss of earnings due to unfair dismissal. This part of the award will compensate for the time you are unemployed, or for the time the tribunal thinks it will take you to find a new job. 
 
If you have a new job but the pay and benefits are less than at your previous job, you may claim for the time it will take you to find another job with the same pay. 
 
If you haven’t found another job yet, the tribunal will use their experience to decide how long it may take you to find another job, looking at factors including your age, your pay, your training and the opportunities available in your field. You should keep evidence of your job search, as you will need to show that you have been making a reasonable effort to find a job. 
 
You cannot claim more than one year's gross pay, and no more than £86,444. 

Discrimination Claims 

If your dismissal was discriminatory, the basic and compensatory awards are unlimited. The tribunal may make the following awards in addition to the basic and compensatory awards, or where you have been discriminated against but not dismissed. 
Financial loss covers money you’ve lost because of the discrimination. If you have lost your job, this could include pension contributions, maternity benefits if you were pregnant, and benefits such as health insurance or a company car. 
 
You may still be working for your employer but have suffered a loss, for example, if you weren’t given a promotion because of discrimination, or lost wages because you had to take time off following the discrimination. 
 
You may also claim expenses that came from the discrimination or job loss, such as travel to the jobcentre or medical care not available through the NHS. 
 
You will be expected to ‘mitigate your loss’, to try your best to limit how much you lose. For example, the tribunal will expect you to look for another job, claim benefits you are entitled to, and only pay reasonable and necessary expenses. 
Injury to feelings compensates you for emotional distress caused by the discrimination. You will need to prove that you suffered distress, for example by providing a doctor’s report if you’ve received medical support. ‘Vento bands’ give guidance on the likely amount, depending on the seriousness of the discrimination: 
£900-£8,800 for less serious cases or one-off acts of discrimination 
£8,800 - £26,300 for more serious cases, but where the top band is not justified 
£26,300 - £44,000 for the most serious cases, such as a sustained case of discrimination 
 
The tribunal will consider whether the discrimination was deliberate, how your employer responded to the discrimination, and the effect it has had on you. 
Personal injury damages may be awarded where you have suffered a physical injury or a mental health problem which goes beyond injury to feelings. The amount will depend upon the injury. In most cases the impact on your health will be reflected in damages for injury to feelings. 
Aggravated damages are awarded where the treatment was exceptionally bad. These damages are rare but may apply where your employer has deliberately discriminated against you knowing that they were acting illegally, or where their response to the claim has been especially unpleasant or aggressive. 
Interest can be claimed on your payment based on the time between the discrimination and you receiving damages. If your employer doesn’t pay the damages within 14 days, you will also be entitled to additional interest. 

Detriment 

A detriment payment will be made where your employer has put you at a disadvantage because you tried to assert an employment right, without going so far as to dismiss you. This only applies to certain employment rights. 
 
A detriment could include where you have been denied training or promotion, been given more onerous work, endured demeaning or offensive treatment (which may or may not also be discrimination), or if your employer did not handle grievances properly. 
 
You may also be able to make a detriment claim where you have lost your job but are unable to claim unfair dismissal, for example, because of your employment status. 
 
Detriment damages will account for financial loss and injury to feelings caused by the detriment. 

Breach of contract 

If you have lost out financially because of a breach of contract, you may be able to claim compensation. This could include a failure to pay your travel expenses, holiday pay, sick pay, or pay during your notice period. You may also have suffered financially from a change made to your contract without your agreement such as changing your pay, moving your location resulting in greater travel costs, or taking away your company car. 
 
A breach may give rise to an additional claim such as discrimination, unlawful deduction from wages, or constructive dismissal
 
You can only claim for breach of contract through an employment tribunal if you are no longer working for your employer. 

Additional considerations 

Your compensatory award may be increased by up to 25% if your employer did not follow the ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. This includes acting promptly and consistently, giving you an opportunity to respond and appeal, and allowing you to be accompanied by a relevant representative. The increase will reflect the extent to which your employer failed to meet the code. 
 
If your employer did not give you a written statement of your terms and conditions within 2 months of starting your job, you may be awarded an additional two to four weeks gross pay. 
 
You may also receive a small additional sum, between £250 and £500, for loss of statutory rights. This reflects that you will need to work at your new role for 2 years before you gain some rights, including the right to claim for unfair dismissal. 

Can these amounts be reduced? 

The tribunal has the power to reduce your award in certain circumstances. Your award may be reduced if: 
Your conduct was at fault, and your claim is based on procedural faults rather than the grounds for your dismissal 
Your employer has offered you your job back but you have refused it without a good reason 
You have received statutory redundancy pay 
You would have been dismissed even if your employer had acted legally 
The tribunal does not feel you have done enough to find a new job 
You failed to attend disciplinary meetings without a good reason 
You have been too ill to work 
You have obstructed the investigation into your dismissal 
 
If you have received benefits since your dismissal, your employer may have to pay some of your compensation to the Department for Work and Pensions to account for these benefits. You will then receive the remaining amount. 

Settling a claim 

You may be able to settle your claim before reaching a tribunal. The amount you would receive from your employer would be based on these principles and the amount you may be awarded. The amount may also take account of the time and money both parties save by settling the claim. 
 
If it looks like you may be able to settle your case, we can help you to negotiate a suitable amount. 

Costs 

It is unusual in Employment cases for a party to be ordered to pay the other side's costs. Usually, each side will pay their own costs. The tribunal may order one party to pay the other sides costs if they have been abusive, disruptive or otherwise unreasonable. A tribunal may also order a party to pay costs if their claim had no reasonable chance of success, or they defended a claim where they were clearly in the wrong. 

Get in touch 

Do you have a legal matter you'd like to discuss with us? Whether you're an employer or employee we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch using the details below or use the form here and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss your enquiry. 
Phone: 0121 452 5130 
Address: Spencer Shaw Solicitors Limited 
Vancouver House, 111 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 8LB 
Opening hours:  
Monday - Friday 9:00AM - 5:00PM 
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays - Closed 
 
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