Total Annual figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Bath and North East Somerset 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 successful.

Dear Bath & North East Somerset Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

Since the inception of Bath and North East Somerset Council, or as far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees or ex-employees of Bath and North East Somerset Council who have signed compromise agreements directly related to the resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and external investigation(s) / whistleblowing incident(s).

In addition to this, annual figures for the number of current employees / ex-employees who have agreed, following the matter being raised and made conditional as part of a compromise agreement drawn up by Bath and North East Somerset Council's legal team, to forgo their right to approach the council in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subject Access requests under the relevant Acts.

Please note that I do not seek or require any personal information such as names and addresses – only the total figures for each subject area.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Information Governance, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Thank you for your information request, which is now being processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
 
You can expect to receive our full response in due course.

Amanda Osborne, Information Compliance Manager
Risk and Assurance Services
Bath & North East Somerset Council
Telephone: 01225 396872
Facsimile: 01225 477387
www.bathnes.gov.uk
 
Making Bath & North East Somerset an even better place to live, work and visit.
 
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Information Governance, Bath and North East Somerset Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please refer to our response attached.

I trust that we have answered your queries, however if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you are unhappy with the response to your request, you may ask for an internal review. Please contact the Council’s Head of Audit, Risk and Information, Mr Jeff Wring at the Guildhall, High St, Bath BA1 5AW mailto:[email address].

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to appeal directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.

Please note that we have not, by way of this disclosure, granted any permission to you to reuse or further publish the information disclosed to you. Please refer to the attached disclaimer regarding reuse.

Amanda Osborne, Information Compliance Manager
Risk and Assurance Services
Bath & North East Somerset Council
Telephone: 01225 396872
Facsimile: 01225 477387
www.bathnes.gov.uk
 
Making Bath & North East Somerset an even better place to live, work and visit.
 
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Dear Information Governance,

Thanks for your quick response and for answering the second part of my query.

In order to make the first part more achievable, please exclude compromise agreemnts related to the following areas:

1. Purely redundancy
2. Equal pay claims
3. TUPE situations
4. COT3 agreements (where Tribunal proceedings have been initiated

Also, please limit the query to the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last 6 years.

I trust that this will make the request more manageable. I am hoping that your legal services team will find the information more readily under the above revised guidelines,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Information Governance, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

I now have some more information on how these records are stored by the Council.

The records are kept in two locations: Human Resources and Legal Services. Legal Services will not always be involved in drafting Cooperation Agreements, so they will only hold information on some cases where CA's have been executed. HR will of course have been involved in all cases where these agreements have been reached, therefore the information you have requested would need to come from that service.

I have spoken with HR about how they store this information. They have informed me that they do not keep a central record of these agreements. Information about the agreements is stored on individual employment files, of which there are several thousand. There is no way to search these files other than manually, which would take a significant amount of time.

I am afraid therefore that despite the refinement of your request, we are still unable to respond as to do so would require us to create new information / exceed the appropriate limit of £450.

I am sorry that we have not been able to assist you in this matter.

Amanda Osborne, Information Compliance Manager
Risk and Assurance Services
Bath & North East Somerset Council
Telephone: 01225 396872
Facsimile: 01225 477387
www.bathnes.gov.uk
 
Making Bath & North East Somerset an even better place to live, work and visit.
 
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Dear Information Governance,

If I can place this request into a wider context, I have made an identical request to all English Councils - as part of essential research into the subject.

To date, almost 50 councils have responded positively and in full, and well within the timescale required by the Act. Some have responded within 2 to 3 working days, or quicker.

These Councils will no doubt possess adequate data storage and retrieval systems, whereas your Council appears not to. I do not believe that placing your faith in such an inadequate system, which cannot be queried effectively on behalf of the public will allow you to claim an exemption under the Act, or be perceived in a sympathetic light by the Information Commissioner. Your failure to comply has placed an unnecessary obstacle in the path of fair and reasonable access to public information.

Before I ask for an internal review, I'd like to take a step back and ask you once again to query your legal department - in order that they can attempt to access information relating to the particular circumstances I describe.

Should an urgent query be made in the future, where important information needs to be accessed quickly, it would be delayed without good reason. Why do you store data in such a slow and inaccessible manner? Do you have plans to modernise your approach urgently, in the interests of openness and public accountability?

Please respond as soon as possible,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Information Governance, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your email.

As previously indicated, some of the information you have requested is available from our Legal Services department. They hold and can provide information on Cooperation Agreements which they have been involved in (i.e. advised on). They have not been involved in all Cooperation Agreements during the time period requested, which is why we indicated that a full answer could only come from our HR service, who will have been involved in them all.

We are able to provide you with information on Cooperation Agreements our Legal Service has been involved in, but this will not be a complete picture of all such Agreements entered in to, for the reasons outlined above.

Amanda Osborne, Information Compliance Manager
Risk and Assurance Services
Bath & North East Somerset Council
Telephone: 01225 396872
Facsimile: 01225 477387
www.bathnes.gov.uk
 
Making Bath & North East Somerset an even better place to live, work and visit.
 
Please consider the environment before printing this email.

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Dear Bath & North East Somerset Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Bath & North East Somerset Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.'.

As discussed, please conduct an internal review in light of all the information I have provided and within the narrower focus I have described.

As part of this review, please include the information you CAN supply, held by the legal services department, but also make a public-spirited attempt to locate the required information. My concern is created by the fact that several councils have responded quickly and positively, whereas you appear to be 'out of step' with the others.

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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Bath & North East Somerset Council,

I requested an internal review on 20th January 2011, but have heard nothing since.

Please acknowledge receipt of this request,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Information Governance, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email below.  I apologise for the delay in responding
to your request for an internal review.  Unfortunately we have had a high
level of absence in our small team.  Mr Jeff Wring is currently out of
the office but will reply on his return next week.

Yours sincerely

Amy Ogborne

Information Compliance Manager

Risk and Assurance Services

Bath & North East Somerset Council

Telephone: 01225 396872

Facsimile: 01225 477387

[1]www.bathnes.gov.uk

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visit.

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Dear Information Governance,

Thanks for your time and for your efforts so far. If the absence levels are stress-related, I completely understand,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Jeff Wring, Bath and North East Somerset Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please find the results of my review. I apologise for the delay in response which was unfortunately due to sickness both within my service and in the teams who we were discussing your request with.

Regards

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Bath & North East Somerset Council went to internal review before reconsidering and deciding to release the information, for which I am grateful.

Please link here to read about the further aspects of this request:

www.easyvirtualassistance.co.uk/page4.html

...including councils who have attempted to prevent individuals from exercising their statutory FOI / DP querying rights.

There is a growing trend for the use of compromise agreements, not just in the area of disputes or whistleblowing, but also in general redundancy or equal pay claims. Some councils have yet to answer this query - and to date, 65 working days have elapsed