Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to East Staffordshire 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 successful.

Dear East Staffordshire Borough Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees of the 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 the body acting as the 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

Angela Wakefield, East Staffordshire Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

The information you request is as follows :-

1. To date there have been a total of three employees who fall into the categories you mention;
2. No employees, whether current or ex, have been asked to agree to forego those rights.

Yours sincerely,

Angela Wakefield
Legal and Democratic Services
East Staffordshire Borough Council
Town Hall
Burton upon Trent
DE14 2EB
Tel: 01283 508267 (direct dial)

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Dear Angela Wakefield,

Many thanks for your response and for the time you have devoted to this query.

Please could you break down the figures into calendar years e.g. 2006 - 1; 2007 - 2; etc. and re-advise?

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Angela Wakefield, East Staffordshire Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Those figures are as follows:-

2007 - 1
2008 - 1
2009 - 1

Yours sincerely

Angela Wakefield

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

East Staffordshire Borough Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 27 working days (over the statutory period) to respond positively and in full.

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

...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

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Here’s a piece of legal opinion from Senior Counsel Hugh Tomlinson QC, which appears to make more likely the prospect of public sector employers opting for Freedom of Information and Data Protection “gagging clauses” within compromise agreements; and thereby aiming to remove persons’ statutory rights to make data and information requests.

It has been an effective reputation management tactic, and a way of concealing the historical malpractice engaged in by employers when targetting whistleblowers or getting rid of people who’ve lodged grievances. The ruse has been deployed in the past by two councils; Cheshire West & Chester, and Brent.

The ICO are powerless to prevent it as the HT opinion implies that contract law takes precedence over a person’s statutory rights – which it appears can be surrendered. The ICO could only act if the recipient of any “ban” were to breach it and make an FoI or DP request of the relevant data controller – which is unlikely to occur because there’s always a “club over the head” of the signatory to the compromise agreement i.e. the threat of any monetary pay off being clawed back through the courts.