Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Enfield Council

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The request was successful.

Dear Enfield 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

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Response
Dear Sir / Madam

We acknowledge your request for information received on 03/01/2011 10.26
PM

Your request has been passed to the Freedom of Information Team. This team
will contact you directly with the name and contact details of the Council
Officer responsible for handling your request.

If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not prevented from
releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to provide you with the
information within 20 working days from receipt of your request.

Yours Sincerely
Enfield Council

Dear Sir / Madam

We acknowledge your request for information received on 03/01/2011 10.26
PM

Your request has been passed to the Freedom of Information Team. This team
will contact you directly with the name and contact details of the Council
Officer responsible for handling your request.

If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not prevented from
releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to provide you with the
information within 20 working days from receipt of your request.

Yours Sincerely
Enfield Council

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Discussion Thread
Customer (Paul Cardin) 03/01/2011 10.26 PM
Dear Enfield 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

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Question Reference No110103-000005
Date Created: 03/01/2011 10.26 PM
Last Updated: 03/01/2011 10.26 PM
Status: Correspondence team

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Enfield Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I write further to your FOI request for details regarding the number of
compromise agreements. I would advise you that when a compromise
agreement is entered into by the Council, it is done so on a strict
confidential basis. I would also add that the agreements do include
confidentiality clauses. Bearing this in mind I am unable to respond to
your request.

Kind regards
Olive L Jones
Head of HR, Strategy & Policy
Telephone No: 020 8379 4701- Ext No: 4701
Mobile No: 07949 051899
Email: [email address]

show quoted sections

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Dear Enfield Council,

Thank you very much for your quick response.

Given the context of my requests - so far, over 130 identical queries made of English Councils, 10 positive responses received since 3rd January, and a considerable majority of councils (over 100) offering to pursue the query and look into it further, responding within the next 20 days, yours is the only response which has not offered to do so.

You seem to be putting an unnecessary obstacle in the way of reasonable access to public information - without satisfactory explanation.

'Confidentiality' is not an issue here. As stated, I am not seeking names or other sensitive details, and simply request Annual total figures in the following format: e.g. 2006 - 1; 2007 - 0; 2008 - 0; 2009 - 2; etc. And totals for the FOI / DPA clause identified.

I would ask that in the light of this, you adopt a more considerate approach. If necessary, I will take this request through internal review and on to the Information Commissioner, where I am confident that an appeal will succeed,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Enfield Council,

Further to this query, and to quote your first response:

"If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not prevented from releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to provide you with the information within 20 working days from receipt of your request."

No exemption exists to prevent you from furnishing information which you have admitted does exist (currently over 100 other councils are now busy working on this request).

My intentions are research-based, completely honourable, and I'd appreciate your co-operation on this request. Thank you in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

[1]Enfield Logo

Response
Dear Sir / Madam

We acknowledge your request for information received on 06/01/2011 09.27
PM

Your request has been passed to the Freedom of Information Team. This team
will contact you directly with the name and contact details of the Council
Officer responsible for handling your request.

If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not prevented from
releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to provide you with the
information within 20 working days from receipt of your request.

Yours Sincerely
Enfield Council

Dear Sir / Madam

We acknowledge your request for information received on 06/01/2011 09.27
PM

Your request has been passed to the Freedom of Information Team. This team
will contact you directly with the name and contact details of the Council
Officer responsible for handling your request.

If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not prevented from
releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to provide you with the
information within 20 working days from receipt of your request.

Yours Sincerely
Enfield Council

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[5]Will I be able to obtain personal information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000?
[6]Will I get all the information I have asked for from the Council under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000?

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Discussion Thread
Customer (Paul Cardin) 06/01/2011 09.27 PM
Dear Enfield Council,

Further to this query, and to quote your first response:

"If the information you are seeking exists, and we are not
prevented from releasing it by an exemption, the Council aim to
provide you with the information within 20 working days from
receipt of your request."

No exemption exists to prevent you from furnishing information
which you have admitted does exist (currently over 100 other
councils are now busy working on this request).

My intentions are research-based, completely honourable, and I'd
appreciate your co-operation on this request. Thank you in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[7]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offic...

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[8][FOI #56634 email]

If you find WhatDoTheyKnow useful as an FOI officer, please ask
your web manager to suggest us on your organisation's FOI page.
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Question Reference No110106-000011
Date Created: 06/01/2011 09.27 PM
Last Updated: 06/01/2011 09.27 PM
Status: Correspondence team

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8. mailto:[FOI #56634 email]

Enfield Council

Dear Paul
Please find information showing the number of Compromise Agreements by
year:

2004 - 1
2005 - 1
2006 - 1
2007 - 0
2008 - 4
2009 - 3
2010 - 5

All compromise agreements were for people who left the organisation. There
were also an additional 15 agreements during this period of time since
2005.

Kind regards
Louise

Louise Allen
Workforce Planning Analyst
HR Strategy and Policy

020 8379 3072 -Ext No: 3072
[mobile number]

show quoted sections

Dear Louise,

Many thanks for your response and for the time you have devoted to this request. I really appreciate it your help.

I was a little confused by the extra 15 agreements you refer to. Could you explain this in greater detail - perhaps assigning them to the years they occurred? Also, could I ask you to exclude any COT3 agreements, also compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances?

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (pay in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations

Can I also ask you to address the second part of my request i.e. has the council ever sought, as part of a compromise agreement, to prevent the employee concerned making future requests under the FOI / DPA Acts?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Enfield Council

Dear Paul
Our compromise agreement template does not prevent the employee concerned
making future requests under the FOI or Data Protection Act.

There were 15 agreements in our records that were not assigned to a
particular year. We have been able to go back and assign years as follows

2004 - 1
2005 - 1
2006 - 6
2007 - 5
2008 - 7
2009 - 4
2010 - 6

Kind regards
Louise

Louise Allen
Workforce Planning Analyst
HR Strategy and Policy

020 8379 3072 -Ext No: 3072
[mobile number]

Paul Cardin To [email address]
<[FOI #56634 email]> cc
Subject Re: Fw: You have a new FOI
01/02/2011 21:32 request in the RightNow
System - FOI11/CEO/1

Dear Louise,

Many thanks for your response and for the time you have devoted to
this request. I really appreciate it your help.

I was a little confused by the extra 15 agreements you refer to.
Could you explain this in greater detail - perhaps assigning them
to the years they occurred? Also, could I ask you to exclude any
COT3 agreements, also compromise agreements drawn up in the
following circumstances?

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (pay in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations

Can I also ask you to address the second part of my request i.e.
has the council ever sought, as part of a compromise agreement, to
prevent the employee concerned making future requests under the FOI
/ DPA Acts?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

Dear Enfield Council,

Thanks very much for your response and for the time you have devoted to this FOI request,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Enfield Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 34 working days (over the statutory period) to respond positively and in full.

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

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.

http://tinyurl.com/bu9vynx