Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Havant 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 Havant 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

Customer Service Centre, Havant Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your request for information about compromise agreements,
which we received on 03/01/11. We are dealing with your request under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

As required by the legislation, we aim to answer your request within 20
working days from the date we received it. If for any reason we are
unable to meet this deadline we will keep you fully informed of the
reasons for this.

If you have any queries about this letter please do not hesitate to
contact Customer Services on 023 9244 6019.

Yours sincerely

Stella Hopkins
Customer Services
Havant Borough Council
Civic Centre Road
Havant
PO9 2AX

Telephone: 023 9244 6010
Fax: 023 9244 6418

[Havant Borough Council request email]
www.havant.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Havant Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your information request received on 4 January 2011
regarding compromise agreements to Havant Borough Council. Please find
the information you have requested shown below.

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).
Our Personnel records are kept for six years. There are a total of four
former employees who have signed compromise agreements over the last six
years and no current employees. Due to the small number of compromise
agreements and the staffing level turnover within this council it was felt
that to break down the compromise agreements by year would make it fairly
easy for those staff who had compromise agreements to be identified.

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. None.

Please contact me again if you require any further assistance on this
matter and I will do my best to provide relevant help and advice.

If you have any complaints in respect of your information request, please
write to the Complaints Monitoring Officer at the address below or
complete the on-line complaint form that can be found at
[1]www.havant.gov.uk. If your complaint is not resolved to your complete
satisfaction, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner
for a decision.

Gill Kneller

Executive Head (Marketing and Development) Havant Borough Council
East Hampshire District Council Civic Offices
Penns Place Petersfield GU31 4EX Havant
Direct Tel: 01730 234004 PO9 2AX
Telephone: 023 9244 6228

Information in this message is confidential and may be
privileged. It is intended solely for the person to whom
it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, please
notify the sender, and please delete the message from your
system immediately.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.havant.gov.uk/

Dear Havant Borough Council,

Thank you for responding and for confirming that there are no gagging / penalty clauses in the area of removing ex-employees Statutory rights to request FOI / DPA information.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with your conclusion that revealing a small number of compromise agreements may risk identifying the recipients. I say this for two reasons:

1. You have not established the thought processes which led you towards this conclusion.

2. 30 councils of varying size have responded to me since 3rd January. Many of these have declared 1 or 2 recipients of compromise agreements, without any concern shown for a risk to personal data privacy or the risk of identification.

3. No exemption exists within the FOI Act to support your claim.

May I request that you reconsider your decision in the light of this information,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dan Lucas, Havant Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Cardin,

Re: FOI Request/Compromise Agreements.

Please find enclosed an attached response to your recent request to
reconsider the Council's original decision. I trust this assists.

Sincerely,

Daniel.

Daniel Lucas|Senior Litigation Lawyer

Governance and Logistics|Legal Team

Havant Borough Council|Civic Offices

Havant|Hampshire|PO9 2AX| 023 9244 6311

show quoted sections

Dear Dan Lucas,

Thanks for your response, the time you have devoted to this request and for providing access to the information

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

345 Councils were asked these questions. Havant 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.

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