Discrimination claims to cost employers more
Successful claims for discrimination on the basis of sex, family status, race and disability in Hong Kong can result in damages being awarded to the Claimant, including compensation for ‘injury to feelings’.
Traditionally, the English Court of Appeal’s guidelines as set out in the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (No 2)  IRLR 102 (“Vento”) have been applied in respect of the assessment of damages for injury to feelings in Hong Kong.
Vento established three ‘bands’ of potential awards for damages for injury to feelings (the “Vento Bands”):
- Top band - For the most serious cases.
- Middle band - For serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band.
- Lower band - For less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one off occurrence.
After a consultation program and with effect from September 2017, a Presidential Guidance has been issued by the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales increasing the Vento Bands as follows (the “Guidance”):
|Bands||Prior to the Guidance||
(with effect from Sept 2017)
£19,800 - £33,000
HK$198,000 – HK$330,000
£25,200 - £42,000
HK$252,000 – HK$420,000
£6,600 - £19,800
HK$66,000 – HK$198,000
£8,400 - £25,200
HK$84,000 – HK$252,000
£660 - £6,600
HK$6,600 – HK$66,000
£800 - £8,400
HK$8,000 – HK$84,000
We would expect the Hong Kong courts to adopt the increased Vento Bands in assessing awards of damages for injury to feelings.
It is imperative that employers ensure that they:
- have up-to-date anti-discrimination / harassment policies in place,
- bring these policies to the attention of their employees; and
- train their employees on the policies.
Taking this action will ensure that the employer will be in the best position possible to defend claims of discrimination and harassment if and when they arise.