Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Harrogate 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 Harrogate 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 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

CustomerServices, Harrogate Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your email, which I have forwarded to the FOI department and they will respond to you directly.

Regards,

Please take a few moments of your time to let us know how we have performed, thank you.
www.harrogatefeedback.co.uk/email-feedba...

Anne Marie
Customer Services Advisor
Customer Service Centre
Harrogate Borough Council

Tel: 0845 300 6091 or extn 4302
e-mail: [email address]
web site: www.harrogate.gov.uk
General Enquiries 01423 500600
postal address:  Council Offices, Crescent Gardens Harrogate HG1 2SG
Open : Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm

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Sarah Ridley, Harrogate Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Paul

Please find attached your FOI response

Kind regards

Sarah Ridley

Senior Human Resources Adviser
Department of Resources
Harrogate Borough Council
Crescent Gardens
HARROGATE HG1 2SG
Tel: 01423 556063
Fax: 01423 556180
email: [1][email address]

website: [2]www.harrogate.gov.uk

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Dear Sarah Ridley,

Thanks very much for your response. In order to modify and resubmit this request, please can you disregard any compromise agreements reached in the following circumstances?

1. Equal Pay Claims
2. TUPE situations
3. COT3 agreements (were tribunal proceedings have been initiated)
4. Purely redundancy situations

....and then readvise with Annual Figures in the following calendar year format e.g. 2007 - 3; 2008 - 1; 2009 - 2, etc.

Also, you didn't address the second part of the query, which is related to FOI / DPA clauses,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Sarah Ridley, Harrogate Borough Council

Hi Paul

No employees have agreed nor indeed do would we even think of requesting
them to forgo their right to approach the council in the future with
Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subject Access requests.

In terms of disregarding Equal Pay Claims, TUPE situations, COT3
agreements (were tribunal proceedings have been initiated)and Purely
redundancy situations from the numbers, this was only 1 employee and that
was in 2009.

Kind regards

Sarah Ridley

Senior Human Resources Adviser
Department of Resources
Harrogate Borough Council
Crescent Gardens
HARROGATE HG1 2SG
Tel: 01423 556063
Fax: 01423 556180
email: [1][email address]

website: [2]www.harrogate.gov.uk

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2. http://www.harrogate.gov.uk/

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

345 Councils were asked these questions. Harrogate Borough Council responded within the statutory limit, taking 19 working days 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.

Harrogate Borough Council helpfully commented on the issue of FOI / DP related gagging clauses: "No employees have agreed nor indeed do would we even think of requesting them to forgo their right to approach the council in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subject Access requests."

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 - although 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