Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Harrow 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 Harrow 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

Information Information,

Dear Paul Cardin,

Thank you for your email.

Your enquiry has been forwarded to Isabella Uzodike, the Officer
responsible for Freedom Of Information and Data Protection, who will
respond to your request within the next 20 working days.

Kind regards

Regards

General Team

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Isabella Uzodike,

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find below the response to your request regarding compromise
agreements and clauses.

The Council has no record of the precise reasons for entering into
compromise agreements. However, the existence of a compromise agreement
suggests that there was some sort of dispute.

In 2009 and 2010/11 the Council ran voluntary severance schemes (VSS).
One of the conditions of an employee leaving was that he/she would sign
a compromise agreement. Therefore, in these cases there may have been no
employment issues. The figures for 2009 * 11 therefore show how many
compromise agreements were signed under the VSS scheme.

The Council does not have a clause in its compromise agreements which
prevents the individual from making future FOI or data protection
requests.

Number of compromise agreements

Year Non-VSS VSS

2007 9 n/a
2008 12 n/a
2009 19 55
2010 14 107
2011* 0 9

* Figures prepared on 22 January 2011

Please contact me directly if you require further assistance.

Kind Regards

Isabella Ogo-Uzodike
Business Manager
Corporate Services
Harrow Council, London
Direct Line: 020 8420 9375 (Internal 5375)
[mobile number]
E-mail: [email address]

Harrow: Cosmopolitan, Confident,Cohesive

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Harrow Borough Council were one of the quicker respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 18 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.

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