Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Gedling 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 Gedling 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

Helen Barrington, Gedling Borough Council

Thank you for your email dated 3 January 2011 and received by the Council on 4 January 2011 requesting information about compromise agreements.

Your request is being considered and will be dealt with within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt (or containing reference to a third party).

Please note that in some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I will let you know. A fee notice will be issued to you, and you will be required to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.

If appropriate, the information will be provided by letter/email, normal font size (Arial, 12pt). If you require an alternative format, such as Braille or large print, then please let me know.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me by email or on the telephone number below.

If you are not satisfied with how your request is being dealt with then you should complain by writing to Mr. J Robinson, Chief Executive. This letter should be marked for the attention of Catye Goodall in the Chief Executive’s Secretariat at the Civic Centre, Arnot Hill Park, Arnold, Nottingham, NG5 6LU.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint then you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF Telephone 01625 545 700 or www.ico.gov.uk

Helen Barrington | Senior Solicitor | Legal Section | Democratic and Community Services | Gedling Borough Council, Civic Centre, Arnot Hill Park, Arnold, Nottingham NG5 6LU I Tel: [0115] 9013896 I Fax: [0115] 9013920 I www.gedling.gov.uk
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Rebecca Dearlove, Gedling Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

With reference to your recent Freedom of Information request, please find
our response as attached.

Regards

Rebecca Dearlove
Personnel Assistant

Customer Services & Organisational Development

Gedling Borough Council
T: 0115 9013926

F: 0115 9013807

W: www.gedling.gov.uk

Tuesday - Friday : 09:30 am - 14:30 pm

<<FOI 1536 January 11 letter.doc>>

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Dear Rebecca Dearlove,

Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate your position however this query is identical to one which has been sent to ALL English councils. So far, I have had 122 (one hundred and twenty two) full and detailed responses. These councils did not have any difficulty in responding positively to what is a reasonable request.

I am currently involved in research in this area and in order to make the task somewhat more manageable for you, can I make the following changes?

Please can you exclude compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have
been initiated)

Also, to assist you further, I will narrow the time period down to between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 122 councils have not found any difficulty, I imagine that they may be taking a different approach to locating the information.

Can I suggest that you query your Accounts Department? I ask this because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing, they are offered a financial incentive to end their working contracts and not make legal approaches to the Council in the future. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed electronic record of all such payments. As they will be keeping an adequate data storage / retrieval system, it will not be too arduous a task for them to provide Annual total figures for compromise agreements drawn up in these circumstances.

You could also put in a call to your Legal Department who may keep a similar searchable database.

I hope the above information assists you. I don't believe that the possession of inadequate data storage / retrieval systems warrants the use of an exclusion under the FOI Act and look forward to your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Rebecca Dearlove, Gedling Borough Council

I am out of the office until Monday 31st January 2011, if you should seek assistance before, please contact a member of Personnel.
Hours of Work: 09:30 am - 14:30 pm Tuesday - Friday (In Personnel Wednesday - Friday 12 - 14:30)
Thank you

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Dear Rebecca Dearlove,

I'm afraid you haven't responded to the follow up email I sent to
you on 28th January 2011.

This was sent almost a month ago and I'd appreciate it if you
responded as soon as possible.

As an update, 223 (two hundred and twenty three) English councils
have responded positively and in full since 1st January 2011 to an identical query,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Rebecca Dearlove, Gedling Borough Council

I am out of the office on annual leave until Tuesday 1st March 2011, if you should seek assistance before, please contact a member of Personnel.
Hours of Work: 09:30 am - 14:30 pm Tuesday - Friday (In Personnel Wednesday - Friday 12 - 14:30)
Thank you

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Janet Brothwell, Gedling Borough Council

1 Attachment

Please find attached response to your freedom of information request dated
31^st January 2011 <<FOI 1593 February 11 letter.doc>>

Janet Brothwell

Head of Customer Services and Organisational Development

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Gedling Borough Council were one of the slowest respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 41 working days (over double 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