Bonuses

Paul Bradshaw made this Freedom of Information request to Dudley Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Dudley Council.

Dear Dudley Borough Council,

I am writing to enquire about bonuses paid to council employees for
the financial years 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09. Specifically:

1) The total amount paid to council employees in bonuses

2) The 5 recipients who received the largest bonuses, and their job titles

3) Any measures that are in place to regulate bonuses within the
council

4) The numbers of council employees who have received bonuses

Please provide the information in spreadsheet or CSV format. If one part of this request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need any clarification of this request please feel free to email me. If FOI requests of a similar nature have already been asked could you please include your responses to those requests.

Please note that the Information Commissioner's guidance is quite clear that bonuses are not covered by data protection. To quote: “It is often believed that the Data Protection Act prevents the disclosure of any personal data without the consent of the person concerned. This is not true. The purpose of the Data Protection Act is to protect the private lives of individuals. Where information requested is about the people acting in a work or official capacity then it will normally be right to disclose.”

I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request, and I look forward to hearing from you within the 20-working day statutory time period.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Bradshaw

Information Governance, Dudley Council

PAUL BRADSHAW.
WHATDOTHEYKNOW.COM

03/02/2010

Dear Mr BRADSHAW,

Freedom Of Information Act 2000 - Information Request 3256

I acknowledge your request for information received on 02/02/2010.

Your request is being considered and you will receive the information
requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions which may
prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an
assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then the
information may not be released. In some circumstances the decision to
release information, or not, will be based on a public interest test. You
will be advised of any considerations, subsequent decisions and your
rights of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you. You will be informed if this is the case,
including your rights of appeal.

Unless otherwise requested the information may be provided in paper copy,
normal font size. If you require alternative formats, e.g. language,
audio, large print, etc. then please let me know.

There may be a fee payable for this information. This will be considered
and you will be informed if a fee is payable. In this event the fee must
be paid before the information is processed and released. The 20 working
day time limit for responses is suspended until receipt of the payment.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Freedom of
Information Officer at Dudley MBC, The Council House, Dudley, West
Midlands, DY1 1HF, telephone 01384 818181, e-mail
[Dudley Borough Council request email].

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Most of the information that we provide in response to Freedom of
Information Act 2000 requests will be subject to copyright protection. In
most cases the copyright will be owned by Dudley MBC. The copyright in
other information may be owned by another person or organisation, as
indicated in the information itself. You are free to use any information
supplied for your own use, including for non-commercial research purposes.
The information may also be used for the purposes of news reporting.
However, any other type of re-use, for example, by publishing the
information or issuing copies to the public will require the permission of
the copyright owner.

For information where the copyright is owned by the Council details of the
conditions on re-use can be found on our website at [1]www.dudley.gov.uk.

For information where the copyright is owned by another person or
organisation, you must apply to the copyright owner to obtain their
permission.

Yours sincerely,

L J Bourne

(Freedom of Information Officer - Dudley MBC)

This Email and any attachments contains confidential information and is
intended solely for the individual to whom it is addressed. If this Email
has been misdirected, please notify the author as soon as possible. If you
are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute, copy,
print or rely on any of the information contained, and all copies must be
deleted immediately.Whilst we take reasonable steps to try to identify any
software viruses, any attachments to this e-mail may nevertheless contain
viruses which our anti- virus software has failed to identify. You should
therefore carry out your own anti-virus checks before opening any
documents.Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council will not accept any
liability for damage caused by computer viruses emanating from any
attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail.

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References

Visible links
1. file://www.dudley.gov.uk

Information Governance, Dudley Council

Dear Mr BRADSHAW,

Freedom Of Information Act 2000 - Information Request 3256

Your request for information received on 02/02/2010 has now been
considered and it is not possible to meet your request.

You requested:

FOR THE FINANCIAL YEARS 2006/07, 2007/08 AND 2008/09. SPECIFICALLY:

1) THE TOTAL AMOUNT PAID TO COUNCIL EMPLOYEES IN BONUSES

2) THE 5 RECIPIENTS WHO RECEIVED THE LARGEST BONUSES, AND THEIR JOB
TITLES

3) ANY MEASURES THAT ARE IN PLACE TO REGULATE BONUSES WITHIN THE
COUNCIL

4) THE NUMBERS OF COUNCIL EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE RECEIVED BONUSES

At this point in time the following exemptions as specified within the
Freedom of Information Act apply to the refusal of the disclosure of the
information you have requested:

Section 22 (a) - Information is intended for future publication. This
exemption applies to totals requested at this time.

Section 36(2) (b) (i) and (ii) and Section 36(2) (c) - Prejudice to
effective conduct of public affairs. This exemption applies to all
information requested at this time and to that information that is still
under review.

Section 40 (2) - Personal Information. This exemption applies to all
information that is classed as personal data as defined by the Data
Protection Act 1998 and includes the identity of the recipients of the
largest bonuses and any other information that could identify them as
individuals, such as job titles where the number of staff undertaking
those roles is low.

Section 42 (1) - Legal Professional privilege. This exemption applies to
all information that has been prepared by the Council in order for its
legal representation to utilise it during the course of legal proceedings
or the consideration of legal proceedings.

Section 22, Section 36 and Section 42 are qualified exemptions and
therefore the Council must consider whether the public interest in
maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure of
the information.

Section 36 also requires the reasonable opinion of "the qualified person"
to consider the degree of likelihood that inhibition or prejudice may
occur in disclosure. In this case "the qualified person" is the Council's
FOI Monitoring Officer, Mr Philip Tart - Director of Corporate Resources.

Public Interest Test:

Public interest arguments in favour of disclosing the requested
information.

The Council accepts that some weight must be attached to the principles of
accountability and transparency in the decisions and actions of the
Council, in addition to the assumption in favour of disclosure within the
Act.

The Council also recognises the public interest in there being
transparency of the Council's decisions and actions regarding bonus
payments, particularly in the wider context of equal pay claims. Equal
pay is an ongoing issue for a large number of local authorities and
clearly attracts a significant degree of interest from campaign groups and
the media. There is a public interest in understanding the legal basis
and rationale for the Council's approach to an issue affecting the terms
of a group of its own staff, in addition to understanding the approach of
public authorities to an issue of wider relevance to employment law.

The Council accepts the transparency and fairness arguments in dealing
with it staff.

Public interest arguments in favour of maintaining the exemption.

The Council has applied three exemptions that require the consideration of
Public interest arguments. Taking each of these in turn:

Section 22 - Information is intended for future publication. The Council
is clear in that the totals relating to bonus payments made to employees
will be published in the public domain in the very near future. This is
in keeping with existing obligations to publish information within its
financial statements and even more so with changes to employment law
regulations coming into force on 31^st March 2010 requiring details of
bonuses, and other remuneration paid, to be set out and published within
the authority's annual statement of accounts for its senior officers.
These regulations have provided the additional vehicle for transparency
and the Council will be meeting its obligations within the requirements of
these regulations in due course.

The Council is currently engaged with the Courts in dealing with a large
number of equal pay claims. It is the intention that on conclusion of the
court proceedings further information will also be placed into the public
domain.

Section 36 - (2)(b)(i) and (ii) - The qualified person submits that the
information requested, at this time, constitutes substantive information
fundamental to the progress and final outcome of the Equal Pay Claim cases
that the Council is currently engaged with. The information is a key part
of the discussion and that its disclosure at this stage of the proceedings
would inhibit the free and frank provision of advice and the free and
frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation.

During the course of legal proceedings, the qualified person believes
that, the release of any information relating to this matter at this stage
would prejudice the ability of officers and others (including the court)
to provide/obtain advice and to openly discuss the Equal Pay Claims. This
is particularly relevant as litigation is ongoing.

Section 36 - (2) (c) - It is not in the public interest at this time to
release the information requested. Disclosure of the information at this
stage of proceedings may lead to more time having to be used to defend or
re-examine cases that are already before the court. Further, the ability
to provide and obtain advice and exchange views is necessary to resolve
this highly sensitive matter and disclosing such information now is likely
to have serious financial implications on the Council now and in the
future. Officers of the Council have a duty to preserve the public purse
and disclosure of the information requested at this time would conflict
and impede with that duty.

Section 42 - The Council maintains that at this time, disclosure of the
requested information would undermine the lawyer-client relationship in
addition to prejudicing its legal position regarding the subject of bonus
payments and Equal Pay Claims.

In considering the factors detailed above the Council has concluded that
the public interest in maintaining the exemptions detailed outweighs the
public interest in disclosing the information at this time.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as
a Public Interest Refusal Notice.

I apologise that your request will not be met but if you have any further
information needs in the future then please contact me.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a comment or complaint, or request a review of
the decision, you should write to the Freedom of Information Officer at
Dudley MBC, The Council House, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1HF, telephone
01384 818181, e-mail [Dudley Borough Council request email]. This can also
be done online at: [1]http://www.dudley.gov.uk/customer-feedback

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by Dudley MBC.

The Information Commissioner may be contacted at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
[2]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Mr L J Bourne
Freedom of Information Officer
Information Governance Unit
Finance, ICT and Procurement
01384 815607

[3]www.dudley.gov.uk
P Please consider the environment - do you need to print this e-mail?

This Email and any attachments contains confidential information and is
intended solely for the individual to whom it is addressed. If this Email
has been misdirected, please notify the author as soon as possible. If you
are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute, copy,
print or rely on any of the information contained, and all copies must be
deleted immediately.Whilst we take reasonable steps to try to identify any
software viruses, any attachments to this e-mail may nevertheless contain
viruses which our anti- virus software has failed to identify. You should
therefore carry out your own anti-virus checks before opening any
documents.Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council will not accept any
liability for damage caused by computer viruses emanating from any
attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail.

Please consider the environment - do you need to print this e-mail?

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dudley.gov.uk/customer-feedback
2. file://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk
3. file://www.dudley.gov.uk

Dear Information Governance,

Can I then request details of the bonus figures alone, without the personal information that appears to be preventing its disclosure.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Bradshaw

Information Governance, Dudley Council

Dear Mr Bradshaw,

Thank you for your email.

Please note that the Section 40 exemption applies to personal data. The
refusal notice also refers to 3 other exemptions that apply to the
requested information. The removal of the personal information element
from your request does not negate the application of these remaining
exemptions.

If you wish to request a review of the decision to refuse the
information, please write to the Freedom of Information Officer at
Dudley MBC, The Council House, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1HF, telephone
01384 818181, setting out your reasons for the request for a review.

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by Dudley MBC.

The Information Commissioner may be contacted at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Mr L J Bourne
Freedom of Information Officer
Information Governance Unit
Finance, ICT and Procurement
01384 815607

www.dudley.gov.uk

This Email and any attachments contains confidential
information and is intended solely for the individual to whom
it is addressed. If this Email has been misdirected, please
notify the author as soon as possible. If you are not the
intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute, copy,
print or rely on any of the information contained, and all
copies must be deleted immediately.Whilst we take reasonable
steps to try to identify any software viruses, any attachments
to this e-mail may nevertheless contain viruses which our anti-
virus software has failed to identify. You should therefore
carry out your own anti-virus checks before opening any
documents.Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council will not accept
any liability for damage caused by computer viruses emanating
from any attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail.

Please consider the environment - do you need to print this e-mail?