Bullying and Harassment

Vicky Gray made this Freedom of Information request to Luton Borough 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 partially successful.

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to know how many employees of the city council have
been absent from work due to either stress, anxiety, depression or
any combination of those ailments between 1st August 2004 and 31st
October 2008.

Please also confirm how many complaints of bullying have been made
by employees of the council against managers or colleagues during
the same period.

Please confirm how many employees have claimed constructive
dismissal within the same period for bullying/harassment.

Please confirm how many claims have been filed against the city
council at the Employment Tribunal within the same period for bullying/harassment.

I would ask that you remember the statutory duty imposed upon
public authorities by virtue of Section 16 of the Freedom of
Information Act to provide advice and assistance to requesters. If
for any reason you are leaning toward rejecting any part of this
request or if you plan to argue that it is unmanageable or
unanswerable in any way then I would expect you to contact me
promptly to find ways to answer this request to our mutual
satisfaction.

Yours sincerely

Vicky Gray

Dear Sir or Madam

I would also clarify when I mentioned constructive dismissal, I was referring to the employee directly, similar point about bullying and harassment complaints, there is no Employment Tribunal claim called "bullying and harassment". This will usually form part of a claim for unfair dismissal or one (or more) of the various discrimination claim and/or under the Protection from Harassment Act. Could you provide the information on the aforementioned.

Could you provide the information in electronic format via this website.

Thank you for your full co-operation

Yours Sincerely

Vicky Gray

Dear Sir or Madam

You have not replied to my FOI request within the 20 working days you are allowed by law.

Kindly address yourselves to this matter immediately and explain your lack of response.

Yours sincerely

Vicky Gray

~LBC Freedom of Information, Luton Borough Council

Thank you for your email. I do apologise for the delay but we are still
trying to establish just how much of your request we can provide. None
of the required information is stored in any suitably structured format
and would require a considerable amount of time to extract from our
records. However, we should have been able to establishs this and
respond sooner. In our defence, we have been suffering unusually high
levels of sickness absence which have affected our ability to respond to
requests with our usual promptness.

Rose

Rose Stipta
Corporate Information Officer
Luton Borough Council
Tel 01582 546398
Fax 01582 546451
Email [email address]
Website www.luton.gov.uk

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~LBC Freedom of Information, Luton Borough Council

Further to my earlier email, I can advise as follows with regard to your
request:

With regard to how many employees have been absent from work due to
either stress, anxiety or depression or any combination of those
ailments between 1st August 2004 and 31st October 2008, we do not hold
this data - what we could provide is the number of employees who have
been absent owing to a mental health condition, but not specifically
those reasons.

With regard to the number of complaints of bullying made by employees
against managers or colleagues during the same period, we only hold this
data from December 2007.

With regard to the number of employees who have claimed constructive
dismissal within the same period for bullying/harassment, we do not hold
this data electronically and in order to provide it we would need to go
through every employee manual file for the period in question, which
would be an excessive amount of work and thus we would decline to
provide this information on the grounds that it is voluminous.

With regard to the claims filed against the Council at Employment
Tribunal, this again requires checking of manual files by one of our
Solicitors, but as there are far fewer files, this is being done, but
the figures are not yet available.

If you require the figures that we can provide in respect of the first
two points please let me know and I will get these to you.

Thanks

Rose

Rose Stipta
Corporate Information Officer
Luton Borough Council
Tel 01582 546398
Fax 01582 546451
Email [email address]
Website www.luton.gov.uk

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Dear Sir or Madam,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Luton Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Bullying and Harassment'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/bu...

As a council they will have to record sickness absence in a format to send form HR to Payroll in order for SSP to be calculated (even for cases where staff still receive full pay) So there will be some sort or record detailing absence.

As a council one would expect they would employ a welfare officer, who would be advised of all staff absent due to stress or those who had said they were being bullied, it would be part of the duty of care under both the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974 and also under most contracts of employment. Details would have to be passed to that person or an appointed person in HR.

One would assume that a council would have a welfare officer, who would be advised of all staff absent due to stress or those who had said they were being bullied, it would be part of their duty of care under both the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974 and also under most contracts of employment. So details would have to be passed to that person or an appointed person in HR. All records of bullying would be kept.

When the council state there is no records of bullying from 2007 what did do they do with the records shred them or just not bother to record them. Under the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974 councils should keep records of alleged bullying incidents.

The suggestion that to search through the files over four years is slightly puzzling as one would imagine each file would have a section dealing with sickness absence. If the files are manual files held in what the Data Protection Act refers to as a "Manual relevant structured filing system," one would expect it would take at most a minute to extract a file from a cabinet, open it, turn up the sickness tab and glance at the sheet and scribble a note if the file refers to stress/depression and put it back again. The "relevant cost limit" from Section 12 is £450 or two and a half days work. By those figures, one would expect you to be able to review 1000 files in that time. If they ran a query on a database, they could identify all employees who had been off sick in the period I have requested and then look at these files.

On the basis of the foregoing, I would ask that a review be carried out and that I be advised of the outcome of that review within the timescales deemed appropriate in the Information Commissioner’s recent guidance.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Vicky Gray

~LBC Freedom of Information, Luton Borough Council

1 Attachment

I attach a pdf copy of the response to your complaint. As we have no postal address we are unable to post a copy to you.

Steve Heappey

Director of Customer and Corporate Services
Luton Borough Council
Website www.luton.gov.uk

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Dear Sir or Madam

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Luton Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Bullying and Harassment'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/bu...

Yours sincerely

Vicky Gray

~LBC Freedom of Information, Luton Borough Council

2 Attachments

Thank you for your email. You have already requested this review and a
response was sent to you on 11th February 2009 - a further copy is
attached. As was advised in the final paragraph of that response, if you
are not happy with it, your only course of action now is to contact the
Information Commissioner - the contact details are in the response. We
cannot enter into further correspondence with you on this particular
request. I do not know if the Information Commissioner has any time
constraints in regard to how long after a response is produced he is
able to accept a complaint.

Rose

Rose Stipta
Corporate Information Officer
Luton Borough Council
Tel 01582 546398
Fax 01582 546451
Email [email address]
Website www.luton.gov.uk

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Dear Ms Stipta

Thank you for your prompt response, pity you could not have been so forthcoming with the information I have requested. I requested a further review to give Luton Council the benefit of the doubt as I felt you may need more time to collate your information. Any organisation that has new databases, becomes more efficient not less efficient.

From the response I have received from you I can only imagine that the bullying figures are horrendous and you are blatantly trying to cover these figures up, as you are embarrassed as a public authority you have failed to tackle bullying within your organisation, and you are not prepared to divulge the figures. If I had jumped to the wrong conclusion and Luton Council are an open and upstanding Authority one would expect prompt truthful answers to the questions I have asked. You quote section 12 for exemption. Yet you have failed under section 16 to provide advice and assistance.

I have now made a formal complaint to the ICO as I feel you have failed in assisting me with my request.

Yours sincerely

Vicky Gray

~LBC Freedom of Information, Luton Borough Council

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Policy and Procedure on Unfair Discrimination Harassment and Bullying.pdf

    217K Download View as HTML

Dear Ms Gray

We have explained why we cannot provide you with the information you
requested. There is no attempt to cover anything up. As explained we
simply do not record this information in a manner which would allow us
to collate it with ease - the only way we could retrieve what you
require is to inspect each individual personal file because the
categories recorded cover far more than those you were requesting. For
your information I attach a copy of our policy and procedure on unfair
discrimination, bullying and harassment to give you an idea of the
procedures we have in place for our staff.

I will await communication from the Information Commissioner in due
course.

Rose

Rose Stipta
Corporate Information Officer
Luton Borough Council
Tel 01582 546398
Fax 01582 546451
Email [email address]
Website www.luton.gov.uk

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Stipta, Rosemary, Luton Borough Council

Further to your complaint to the Information Commissioner and the
subsequent correspondence from them, I would like to once again extend
to you the offer we made in our initial reply, to provide a limited
amount of the information you requested.

We can provide the following:

A) the number of employees absent owing to a mental health condition
between 1/8/04 and 31/10/08

B) complaints of bullying - only since 2007

C) number of claims against the Council at ET for bullying/harassment

If you would like this information, please let me know and I can then
arrange for it to be assembled and supplied to you.

Rose

Rose Stipta
Corporate Information Officer
Luton Borough Council
Tel 01582 546398
Fax 01582 546451
Email [email address]
Website www.luton.gov.uk

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Dear Ms Stipta

Thank you for your message. I look forward to receiving the correct information.

Yours sincerely

Vicky Gray

Stipta, Rosemary, Luton Borough Council

Further to our emails I can now provide some of the information.

Between 1st January 2006 and 31st October 2008, 564 people had absences
over 828 occasions (but some people have more than one absence).

Our definition of mental ill health is "including stress, anxiety,
depression, bereavement, debility, exhaustion, SAD, run down".

The caseload monitor shows 21 formal allegations of bullying/harassment
between February 2007 and May 2009.

I am still awaiting information on ET cases but will chase this up.

Rose

Rose Stipta
Corporate Information Officer
Luton Borough Council
Tel 01582 546398
Fax 01582 546451
Email [email address]
Website www.luton.gov.uk

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Anon left an annotation ()

Luton Borough Council has used/abused anti-terror laws to intimidate, harass, bully staff/ex-staff into silence. I know because they did this to me whilst I was working for them from day one, and still continue to harass me to ensure I didnt/dont go public about their fraudulent activities. They claim wasting tax payers money, and using people's details fraudulently is for the purpose of 'saving staff jobs'. Absolute nonsense.

They tried to force me to say I could not handle the job - when in fact I had nothing to do most days!!!!
They have been wasting tax-payers money in abundance.

Luton Borough Council used listening device in my house, and then got staff whilst at work to repeat those conversations I had in my house. They got staff to follow me around during the day, over the weekend and indirectly threatened me.

I AM STILL BEING HARASSED TO THIS DAY. LUTON BOROUGH COUNCIL HAS SPREAD LIES AND RUMOURS TO FRIENDS, INTIMIDATED MY FRIENDS, SABOTAGED POTENTIAL JOBS, KEEPING ME UNEMPLOYED FOR YEARS. They have even used the local Police to frighten me. These people have tried in vain to force me out of Luton!!

Please note, I have written this so the public is aware how Luton Borough Council is abusing the law.

Dear Rosemary Stipta

On the 6 August 2009 you stated that: "I am still awaiting information on ET cases but will chase this up." It is now the 14 September 2009. Could you please provide this information. After all you have had over a month as you so eloquently state " to chase it up".

Your sincerely

Vicky Gray

Stipta, Rosemary, Luton Borough Council

I do apologise for the continued delay in supplying the rest of the
information. My colleague has advised that she is having to retrieve
all the ET files and then read each claim to see whether bullying and
harassment is mentioned as it is not a claim in itself but may be
mentioned in others. Given the amount of work involved, we are hopeful
of having an answer in late October.

Rose

Rose Stipta
Corporate Information Officer
Luton Borough Council
Tel 01582 546398
Fax 01582 546451
Email [email address]
Website www.luton.gov.uk

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Dear Rose Stipta

I sent the following email on the 6 Decmeber 2008. Ask her to LOOK FOR claim for unfair dismissal or one (or more) of the various discrimination claim and/or under the Protection from Harassment Act.

6 December 2008
Dear Sir or Madam

I would also clarify when I mentioned constructive dismissal, I was referring to the employee directly, similar point about bullying and harassment complaints, there is no Employment Tribunal claim
called "bullying and harassment". This will usually form part of a claim for unfair dismissal or one (or more) of the various discrimination claim and/or under the Protection from Harassment Act. Could you provide the information on the aforementioned.

Could you provide the information in electronic format via this website.

Thank you for your full co-operation

Yours Sincerely

Vicky Gray

Cormack, Mary, Luton Borough Council

Dear Ms Gray

I have looked into your request for the "number of claims against the
Council at ET for bullying/harassment".

I apologise for the delay in responding to you - in order to answer this
request I have had to retrieve a number of files and read each Claim form
in its entirety, as bullying and harassment are not "stand - alone" claims
but tend to be included in claims for discrimination or constructive
dismissal.

I have assumed that you want to know the number of claims issued in the
relevant period rather than the number of final hearings.

The number of claim forms issued against the Council between 1 August 2004
and 31 October 2008 which include allegations of bullying or harassment is
18

Mary Cormack
Principal Solicitor (Litigation)
Legal Services
Luton Borough Council

Tel 01582 546692

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If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender at
Luton Borough Council
Town Hall
Luton LU1 2BQ.
Tel. (01582) 546000
or by using the reply option to this e-mail.
Then delete this message from your system.

Website: www.luton.gov.uk

Dear Mary Cormack

Thank you for providing the correct information.

Yours sincerely

Vicky Gray

Cormack, Mary, Luton Borough Council

I will be out of the office until 5 November

Please refer any urgent matters to Legal Admin on 546653.

IMPORTANT: Luton Borough Council routinely monitors the content of e-mail sent
and received by its e-mail systems, to ensure compliance with its policies and procedures.

E-mails that contain encrypted material, program files, are obscene, inflammatory,
criminal, offensive, in breach of copyright or contain a virus or threat to Council`s
computer systems may be intercepted and/or deleted.

Internet communications are not secure.
The Council is not responsible for any changes made to the message after it has
been sent.

This message is intended only for the addressee. Any unauthorised copying or
distribution may be unlawful.

If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender at
Luton Borough Council
Town Hall
Luton LU1 2BQ.
Tel. (01582) 546000
or by using the reply option to this e-mail.
Then delete this message from your system.

Website: www.luton.gov.uk

Hudayfa left an annotation ()

To User Anon and anyone else who believes they have been harassed and bullied by staff at this Local Authority (or another Local Authority)please could you send me a message and also preferably leave a small annotation just to let me know you have sent it, as I have had a similar experience and am seeking legal redress and other peoples testimonies are vital to challenge this type of behaviour.

Many thanks
Hudayfa