Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Hampshire 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 Hampshire 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 sign and 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

Freedom of Information, Hampshire County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find attached our acknowledgement letter to your FOI request
below.

Yours sincerely

Amanda Godridge
Information Compliance Officer
Information Compliance Team
Chief Executive's Department
The Castle
Winchester
SO23 8UJ
Courier Code: C101

Tel: 01962 847374

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

By law, I believe the authority should have responded promptly and
by 1st February 2011.

Although I have received no response, to assist, I would like to
'sharpen' and reduce the scope of the original request as follows:

Please exclude all COT3 Agreements and all 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

Further to this, please reduce the time period to the years between
2005 and 2010 i.e. the last six years.

I am researching this particular area and aim to view trends and
movements both regionally and nationally. It would benefit myself
and the authority if the figures reached were as accurate as
possible.

When responding, please give figures in calendar year format e.g.
2005 - 1; 2006 - 3; 2007 - 2; etc.

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, Hampshire County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Firstly please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your
Freedom of Information request.

Attached is the formal response from Hampshire County Council to your
request.

Regards

Kevin

<<Cardin 3293 Formal.pdf>>

Kevin Purvis
Senior Information Compliance Officer
Information Compliance Team
Chief Executive's Department
The Castle
Winchester
SO23 8UJ
Courier Code: C101

Tel: 01962 846522

Dear Freedom of Information,

I'm afraid your link is not working. I can't view OR download the info.

Can you put the information up on the screen please?

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Freedom of Information,

I have since managed to get the file to open, and thank you for the response.

I appreciate your position however this query is identical to one which has been sent to ALL English councils. To date, since January 1st 2011, I have had 223 (two hundred and twenty three) full and detailed positive responses. These councils did not have any difficulty in responding to my request.

I am currently involved in research in this area, with the aim of viewing trends and movements nationally. When your response didn’t arrive within the first 20 working days, I reduced the scope, in good faith and in order to make the task more manageable.

I asked if you could exclude COT3 agreements, also 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. Purely voluntary severance situations

I also assisted you further, by narrowing the time period down to between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 223 councils did not find any difficulty, I imagine that they may be taking a different approach to locating the information. They may also be of the opinion, as I am, that the public interest in releasing this information outweighs the public interest in not releasing it - and regardless of cost implications.

Your response does not instil confidence in me, as you have not advised me of any plans to replace what appears to be a cumbersome and inadequate data storage / retrieval system. The public are not being served well here and you have not advised me of any plans to remedy this situation - despite the FOI Act being in place for the last 11 years.

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. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments. As they should 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 an inadequate data storage / retrieval system
warrants the use of an exemption under the FOI Act.

Please could you address the second part of my original request i.e. Does the council, as part of a compromise agreement, attempt to get employees 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? Apologies for any confusion caused by not including this in the reduced request.

I’m wary of frittering away public money wisely and don’t want to resort to an internal review too quickly. I would ask you to reconsider this request in light of all the above.

I look forward to receiving your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Hampshire County Council,

I have reduced the scope of the query in good faith.

Please respond to advise and reassure me that you are still in fact looking into this request,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, Hampshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Many thanks for the email and reducing the scope of your query. Having reviewed the redefined scope of your Freedom of Information request it is still estimated that to respond to the request will exceed the appropriate limit of £450 as set out in Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act.

If you are not content with Hampshire County Council's response to your request you have the right to request an internal review. Internal review requests need to be made in writing and submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original request. Any request for an internal review should be addressed to:

Head of Information Compliance
Chief Executive's Department
The Castle
EII Court
Winchester
SO23 8UJ

Or alternatively emailed to [Hampshire County Council request email]

Please remember to quote the reference number FOI 3293 in any future communications.

Regards

Kevin

Kevin Purvis
Senior Information Compliance Officer
Information Compliance Team
Tel: 01962 846522

show quoted sections

Dear Hampshire County Council,

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

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

Please take into account all the information I've submitted to date.

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

Austin, Janice, Hampshire County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find attached letter of acknowledgement of your request for a
review of the Council's response to FOI 3293.

Yours sincerely
<<ack letter - Mr P Cardin.doc>>
Janice Austin
Solicitor
For Head of Legal Services
Legal Practice
Chief Executive's Dept
Hampshire County Council
EII Court South
The Castle
Winchester
Hants
SO23 8UJ
Email: [email address]
Tel. 01962 846580
Fax. 01962 834523
working days Tuesday to Friday

Information in this message is confidential and may be legally
privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the
sender, and please delete the message from your system immediately. Any
request for disclosure of this document under the Data Protection Act or
Freedom of Information Act should be referred to the sender or their
manager within Legal Services.

Swales, Dawn, Hampshire County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find attached a letter from Janice Austin, Solicitor, for Head of
Legal Services

Yours sincerely

<<letter Mr Cardin.doc>>

Dawn Swales
Senior Secretary to:
Christine Buckett, Head of Litigation & Procurement
Karen Everett, Senior Solicitor
Kate Hume-Smith, Solicitor
Sue Kilbride, Senior Solicitor
Janice Austin, Solicitor
Hampshire County Council
Chief Executive's Dept, Room 28
EII South
The Castle, Winchester
Hampshire, SO23 8UJ
Tel: 01962 847359
Fax: 01962 868402
Email: [email address]
If you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act
2000, please direct your email to [email address].
Any statutory timeframe for a response will not commence until the request
is received by the Corporate Complaints Team.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Hampshire 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.