Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Gloucestershire County 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 Gloucestershire County 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

MORRIS, Sue, Gloucestershire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Request for Information (Reference 11/FOI/2915)

Thank you for your request for information for total annual figures for
compromise agreements, received on 4 January 2011. Your request is being
considered and you will receive a response as soon as possible, and within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of
Information Act (FoIA) 2000; that date is 1 February 2011.

Gloucestershire County Council is committed to the principles of FoIA and
will, wherever possible, provide all information requested unless
constrained by another statute or by an exemption within the FoIA. Please
note some information you have requested may not be provided to you; this
will only be information that can be withheld by law, and the reason will
be explained to you when we send out any information that can be released.

We may need to contact you if the request needs to be clarified; this is
to ensure we provide you with the information you require.

If the information you have requested is held by another public authority,
we will transfer the request to them. If you have any objections to this,
please contact us as soon as possible so we know not to transfer the
request, and we will provide you with the relevant contact details
instead.

Yours sincerely

Sue Morris

Information Management Administrator

For more information about our services, please see our website:
www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives

show quoted sections

WILMSHURST, Teresa, Gloucestershire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Request for Information (Reference 11/FOI/2915)

I am writing in response to your request for information received on 4
January 2011 concerning total annual figures for compromise agreements.

Your request has been carefully considered and I am pleased to confirm
that Gloucestershire County Council does hold the information you have
requested:

2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10

No. of compromise agreements (excluding schools)
2 3 11 9

No. of compromise agreements in
schools 18
21 9 16

No employees have signed compromise agreements where they have waived
their rights to request information under FOI or DPA.

Gloucestershire County Council has not withheld any information in
relation to this request under the exemptions of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FoIA).

I hope the information received is what you were expecting. If you feel
that we have failed to comply with the FoIA in relation to this request,
you can make a complaint or request an internal review by writing back
within 40 working days of the date of receipt of this email, and sending
us any evidence you think supports your complaint.

A copy of the Information Compliance Complaints Procedure is on our
website at [1]http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index....,
and there would be no charge for dealing with your complaint. Please
address your complaint or request for an internal review to the
Information Management Service at:

Gloucestershire County Council

Ground Floor, Block 2/3

Shire Hall, Westgate Street

Gloucester

GL1 2TG

Or by email to [2][Gloucestershire County Council request email]

To help us understand our users and improve our service, we would
appreciate your feedback on the quality of service and response you have
received in relation to your recent request for information. If you would
like to provide feedback, please use our online form at
[3]http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index.....

I will now close your request as of this date.

Yours sincerely,

Teresa Wilmshurst

Information Manager

Gloucestershire County Council

Shire Hall

Westgate Street

Gloucester

GL1 2TG

Tel: 01452 426186

Email: [4][email address]

Go to [5]www.gloucestershire.gov.uk to find information on any County
Council service. It couldn't be easier to find information instantly and
in some cases apply for services online.

For Freedom of Information (FOI) requests please email
[6][Gloucestershire County Council request email]

show quoted sections

Dear Teresa,

Thanks for your quick response. I'm a bit confused by the way your answer has been laid out.

Can you confirm that the following interpretation is correct?

Non - schools

2006/7 - 2
2007/8 - 3
2008/9 - 11
2009/10 - 9

Schools

2006/7 - 18
2007/8 - 21
2008/9 - 9
2009/10 - 16

Can you also confirm that the above compromise agreements are related to the situations listed in my query and NOT to equal pay claims, COT3 (tribunal proceedings) or purely redundancy situations?

Sorry to be insistent, but I am carrying out research which will feed into a National database of figures and trends,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

WILMSHURST, Teresa, Gloucestershire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your email requesting clarification of our response. I can confirm that your interpretation is correct.

I can also confirm that the compromise agreement figures quoted do not include any equal pay claims or COT 3 situations, nor does it include PURELY redundancy situation, as in all the cases quoted there is some other reasons for the agreement such as TUPE or unfair dismissal etc.

Kind regards,

Teresa Wilmshurst
Information Manager

Gloucestershire County Council
Shire Hall
Westgate Street
Gloucester
GL1 2TG

Tel: 01452 426186
Email: [email address]

Go to www.gloucestershire.gov.uk to find information on any County Council service. It couldn’t be easier to find information instantly and in some cases apply for services online.

For Freedom of Information (FOI) requests please email [Gloucestershire County Council request email]

show quoted sections

Dear WILMSHURST, Teresa,

Thank you for your response.

I was a bit startled by the figures initially. This may be because they are being unfairly inflated by the inclusion of TUPE situations.

Sorry to be insistent (again) but please could you remove the TUPE stats and re-advise?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

WILMSHURST, Teresa, Gloucestershire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Request for Information (Reference 11/FOI/2915)

I am writing in response to your queries raised as a result of the
response to your request received on 4 January 2011.

I have given your request careful consideration; however in its present
form, the request is refused under Section 12 of the Freedom of
Information Act. This is because I have concluded that the cost of
complying with your request will exceed the `appropriate limit' of £450
(18 hours @ £25 per hour) which is laid down by the Act and associated
Regulations[1][1] .

Due to the way in which the authority has processed compromise agreements
in the past we are unable to provide further information regarding the
TUPE stats.  Once a compromise agreement has been completed the paperwork
is placed on the individual's file due to its confidentiality.  In order
to locate this information we would need to go through all staff files,
which would take in excess of 18 hours at a cost of over £450.

If you feel that we have failed to comply with the FoIA in relation to
this request, you may make a complaint or request an internal review by
writing back within 40 working days of the date of receipt of this email,
and sending us any supporting evidence which you think supports your
complaint. Please follow this link to view the Information Compliance
Complaints Procedure:
[2]http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index.... There
will be no charge for dealing with your complaint. Please address your
complaint or request for an internal review to the Information Management
Service at:

Gloucestershire County Council

Ground Floor, Block 2/3

Shire Hall, Westgate Street

Gloucester

GL1 2TG

Or by email to [3][Gloucestershire County Council request email] 

To help us understand our users and improve our service we would
appreciate your feedback on the quality of service and response you have
received in relation to your recent request for information.  If you
would like to provide feedback on this process please use our online form
which is available at
[4]http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index.....

I will now close your request as of this date.

Yours sincerely

Teresa Wilmshurst

Information Manager

Gloucestershire County Council

Shire Hall

Westgate Street

Gloucester

GL1 2TG

Tel: 01452 426186

Email: [5][email address]

Go to [6]www.gloucestershire.gov.uk to find information on any County
Council service. It couldn't be easier to find information instantly and
in some cases apply for services online.

For Freedom of Information (FOI) requests please email
[7][Gloucestershire County Council request email]

show quoted sections

Dear Teresa,

Many thanks for your refusal notice.

Please note that my request does not specify TUPE related compromise agreements. Please modify my query to exclude the following areas / compromise agreements:

1. TUPE related
2. Purely redundancy related
3. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings have been initiated
4. Equal pay related

Many similar councils have responded positively to the same request, with no claim that it would exceed the time limit. I imagine this is because they may have made a simple approach to their legal department in order to ascertain the Annual figure for compromise agreements which are related to the areas I specified.

Can I request that you adopt a similar approach under the above revised description and respond as soon as you can? I am endeavouring to assist the process and would not want to unnecessarily raise an internal review or a later appeal to the Information Commissioner.

I'm not aware that a problematic method of storage allows you to claim any exemption under the Act,

many thanks in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

MORRIS, Sue, Gloucestershire County Council

Dear Mr Carden

Request for Information (Reference 11/FOI/2953)

Thank you for your request for information for TUPE, received on 13
January 2011. Your request is being considered and you will receive a
response as soon as possible, and within the statutory timescale of 20
working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) 2000;
that date is 10 February 2011.

Gloucestershire County Council is committed to the principles of FoIA and
will, wherever possible, provide all information requested unless
constrained by another statute or by an exemption within the FoIA. Please
note some information you have requested may not be provided to you; this
will only be information that can be withheld by law, and the reason will
be explained to you when we send out any information that can be released.

We may need to contact you if the request needs to be clarified; this is
to ensure we provide you with the information you require.

If the information you have requested is held by another public authority,
we will transfer the request to them. If you have any objections to this,
please contact us as soon as possible so we know not to transfer the
request, and we will provide you with the relevant contact details
instead.

Yours sincerely

Sue Morris

Information Management Administrator

For more information about our services, please see our website:
www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives

show quoted sections

Dear Gloucestershire County Council,

Please ignore the above post - it failed to take in and address your earlier explanation. Will be back soon with a modified request,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Gloucestershire County Council,

You have very kindly produced and supplied figures, and I thank you for this. However, my research will be inaccurate if it is allowed to include TUPE related compromise agreements.

I therefore kindly request that you omit the TUPE related compromise agreements and re-advise.

My intention is purely academic and research-based and I am at pains to produce accurate information for wider study.

You have managed to exclude other circumstances such as COT3, equal pay, etc. and I would hope that you could use the same quick process to eliminate TUPE stats.

Thank you in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

MORRIS, Sue, Gloucestershire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Request for Information (Reference 11/FOI/2986)

I am emailing to acknowledge your complaint received on 20 January 2011 in
relation to your request for TUPE related information.

Your appeal is currently being looked into and I hope to be able to
provide you with a response by 17 February 2011, if it looks likely that
there will be a delay I will keep you informed of progress.

If you have any further information to support your appeal please email it
to [1][Gloucestershire County Council request email] or post it to me at the address below.

Yours sincerely

Sue Morris

Information Management Administrator

show quoted sections

WATHEN, Victoria, Gloucestershire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Complaint reference (11/FOI/2986)

I have undertaken an investigation and I am now able to provide a response
to your complaint, received on 20 January 2011.

Summary of your request (11/FOI/2915) and complaint

1. On 4 January 2011 the council received your request asking 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."

2. On 11 January 2011 the council responded with the following
information:

Data
2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10

No. of compromise agreements (excluding schools)
2 3 11 9

No. of compromise agreements in schools
18 21 9 16

No employees have signed compromise agreements where they have waived
their rights to request information under FOI or DPA.

3. On 12 January 2011 the council received a query about your request, as
follows:

Can you confirm that the following interpretation is correct?

Non - schools

2006/7 - 2
2007/8 - 3
2008/9 - 11
2009/10 - 9

Schools

2006/7 - 18
2007/8 - 21
2008/9 - 9
2009/10 - 16

Can you also confirm that the above compromise agreements are
related to the situations listed in my query and NOT to equal pay
claims, COT3 (tribunal proceedings) or purely redundancy
situations?

4. On 12 January the council responded to your query, with the following
information:

Thank you for your email requesting clarification of our response. I can
confirm that your interpretation is correct.

I can also confirm that the compromise agreement figures quoted do not
include any equal pay claims or COT 3 situations, nor does it include
PURELY redundancy situation, as in all the cases quoted there is some
other reasons for the agreement such as TUPE or unfair dismissal etc.

5. On 12 January 2011 you submitted a further query to the council about
the inclusion of TUPE information.

6. On 13 January the council responded explaining that the it was not
possible to omit the information, as requested, within the 18 hour
time limit and so a refusal notice was issued as the section 12
exemption was consider to apply.

7. On 20 January you wrote to us again asking us to reconsider our
position on omitting the TUPE information. We have processed this
request under our Information Compliance Complaints Procedure as you
expressed dissatisfaction with the response provided.

Outcome

We have reconsidered whether the information can be provided with the 18
hours, taking into account time already taken responding to your request
and subsequent queries. Gloucester County Council does not hold the
information in the format that you require. We have concluded that to
obtain the information as required will exceed the allocated 18 hours.
The figures quoted in the original request are all that is held on
compromise agreements. In respect of your suggestion of a simplified
approach, I can confirm for future reference this has been introduced into
the organisation as of 1st December 2010.

In conclusion, your complaint is not upheld.

Right of appeal

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation into your
complaint, and this further response, please contact the Information
Commissioner, whose contact details are:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel: 01625 545 700

Alternatively you can complete their freedom of information complaints
form (PDF version). If all evidence in support of your complaint is
available electronically, please complete their complaints form (word
version for electronic submission) and save it to your computer before
submitting it as an attachment, along with any evidence, to the online
enquiry form.

I will now close your complaint as of this date.

Yours sincerely,

Victoria Wathen
Information Manager
Information Management Service
Gloucestershire County Council
Shire Hall
Gloucester
GL1 2TG

Tele 01452 425071
Fax 01452 425772

e-mail [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear Gloucestershire County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Gloucestershire County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements'.

Using all the information submitted to date, please look again at this request. To date, 218 English councils have responded positively and in full. I thank you for omitting several areas, as requested, but the inclusion of TUPE stats will heighten the figures and make them inaccurate. This would do a disservice, both to yourselves and the wider public. I am hopeful that asking you to take one further step, will not prove too difficult, given that you have reached a smaller set of figures.

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

WATHEN, Victoria, Gloucestershire County Council

Dear Mr. Cardin,

Please find below the outcome of the Internal Review. You have the right
to appeal to the Information Commissioner, details as below.

Regards

Victoria.

show quoted sections

Dear WATHEN, Victoria,

It wasn't a "complaint". It was an FOI request. Thanks for your time,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Gloucestershire County Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying most of the information.

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 less controversial areas of redundancy, severance 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