Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Hertsmere 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 Hertsmere 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

foi, Hertsmere Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I am writing to acknowledge your request for information received on 4
January 2011.

Your request is being considered and you will receive a response within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and/or Environmental Information Regulation 2005.

The Act/Regulations define a number of exemptions which may prevent
release of the information you have requested. There will be an assessment
of your request and if any of the exemption categories apply then the
information may be withheld. You will be informed if this is the case,
including your rights of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you. You will be informed if this is the case.

If a fee is payable for this information then you will be informed prior
to any further action being taken. In this event the fee must be paid
before the information is processed and released. The 20 working day time
limit for the response is suspended until receipt of payment.

If you have any queries about the processing of your request then please
do not hesitate to contact me.

Further information about access to information can be obtained from
Hertsmere Borough Council or the Information Commissioner's Office.

Hertsmere Borough Council

Civic Offices

Elstree Way

Borehamwood

WD6 1WA

Telephone 020 8207 2277

[1]www.hertsmere.gov.uk

Information Commissioners Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Telephone 01625 545700

[2]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Please include the above FOI reference number on all correspondence
related to this request.

Thank you for your request.

Kind regards

Tom Jackson

Information Services

Tel: 020 8207 7821.

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Dear foi,

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

foi, Hertsmere Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for pre-emptively providing clarification on this FOI request.
Additionally we require clarification as follows:- some compromise
agreements have been made to cover voluntary severance as an alternative
to compulsory redundancy. Please can you clarify if these circumstances
fall within "purely redundancy situations" and excluded in your
clarification.

Yours sincerely

Tom Jackson

Information Services

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Dear foi,

Thanks for the response. My initial query has been made of ALL English Councils.

Some of the respondents have been delayed, like yourselves, but have then resorted to 'slapping down' another 20 day period for their own convenience. And this, after I'd helped them by reducing the scope of the initial request in good faith.

Thank you for not doing this.

To address your request for clarification, please also exclude the 'voluntary severance' circumstances that you describe, and provide the totals as soon as possible,

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Hertsmere Borough Council,

Hi. I DID respond to your request for clarification, but that was almost a month ago.

We are now into March, and apparently no further forward. Please respond to provide some reassurance that you are still looking into this request,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Hertsmere Borough Council,

I sent the following response on 4th February:

"Thanks for the response. My initial query has been made of ALL
English Councils.

Some of the respondents have been delayed, like yourselves, but
have then resorted to 'slapping down' another 20 day period for
their own convenience. And this, after I'd helped them by reducing
the scope of the initial request in good faith.

Thank you for not doing this.

To address your request for clarification, please also exclude the
'voluntary severance' circumstances that you describe, and provide
the totals as soon as possible"

....and then the following message on 2nd March:

"
Hi. I DID respond to your request for clarification, but that was
almost a month ago.

We are now into March, and apparently no further forward. Please
respond to provide some reassurance that you are still looking into
this request"

We are now over 50 working days into this request and no further forward. I'd appreciate your response before I consider requesting an internal review,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Hertsmere Borough Council,

Hi. We're almost into April and over 60 working days into this query. You are no longer responding to my queries. I'd appreciate some assistance with this as soon as possible,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Hertsmere Borough Council,

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

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

We're well into April now, but I've received nothing from you since early February.

284 English councils have now responded positively and in full. Please take into account all the information and clarifications I have sent in the past when conducting this review.

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

Dear Hertsmere Borough Council,

Good morning. You have until Tuesday 24th May to respond to my request for an internal review, sent many weeks ago.

Failing this, I will appeal to the Information Commissioner,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Hertsmere Borough Council,

We're now into June and nothing heard. I will need to go to the Information Commissioner if nothing is heard from you this week,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

foi, Hertsmere Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

I am writing in response to your request received by email on 4 January
2011 requesting information regarding compromise agreements.

Your request has now been considered under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act and we are able to respond as follows.

Your Request:

Please supply totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number 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 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

Our Response:

The number of compromise agreements signed since 2005

NO. OF COMPROMISE
YEAR AGREEMENTS
2005 2
2006 0
2007 2
2008 0
2009 2
2010 5

If you have any queries about the processing of your request then please
do not hesitate to contact me. Further information explaining the
Council's process for responding to information requests together with a
complaints/appeals procedure is available in our reception or via our
website at:

http://www.hertsmere.gov.uk/councildemoc...

The Information Commissioner oversees the application of the Freedom of
Information Act. You may contact the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioners Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545700

Website: www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Please include the above reference number on all correspondence related to
this request.

Thank you for your request.

Kind regards

Tom Jackson

Information Services

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Dear foi,

I'd appreciate it very much if you could address the second question within my original request - sent on 3rd January 2011 i.e.

"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 respond as soon as possible,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

foi, Hertsmere Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

The answer is none, because Hertsmere does not include a requirement in compromise agreements for people to forego their right to approach the Council in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA subject access requests under the relevant acts.

Yours sincerely

Tom Jackson
Information Services

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Dear foi,

Thanks, but I did ask you that back on 6th January, when snow lay on the ground,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

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