Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Ipswich 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 Ipswich 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

Alison Barber, Ipswich Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Re: Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Thank you for your communication dated 4 January 2011 and received in this
office on 5 January 2011, requesting information relating to Compromise
Agreements. Your request has been passed to John Waters, HR Manager, for
processing. Your unique reference number is FOI2011007, please quote this
in all future correspondence.

As required by the legislation, we aim to answer your request promptly and
in any event 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 or require any further assistance please do not
hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Barber
Democratic & Business Support Assistant

Tel: 01473 432306

Email: [email address]

Ipswich Borough Council | Grafton House | 5^th Floor West | Russell Rd |
Ipswich | IP1 2DE

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John Waters, Ipswich Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,
I am writing to confirm that the Council has now completed its search for
the information which you requested on 4th January 2011.

Compromise Agreements by calendar year

2005 - 1
2006 - 0
2007 - 3
2008 - 3
2009 - 1
2010 - 1
There are no records prior to 2005 of any compromise agreements being
signed.
None of the compromise agreements required the employee 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.
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request an review of our decision,
you should write to the Head of Legal and Democratic services, Grafton
House 15-17 Russell Road Ipswich IP1 2DE.

If you are not content with the outcome your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by Council. The Information Commissioner can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely,

John

John Waters
HR Operations Manager
Ipswich Borough Council
01473 433405

Ipswich - proud to be a Fairtrade town

From: Freedom of Information
Sent: 05 January 2011 09:08
To: Alison Barber
Subject: FW: Freedom of Information request - Total Annual Figures for
Compromise Agreements, etc.
Hi Alison
Please process - send to John Waters

From: Paul Cardin [[1]mailto:[FOI #56765 email]]
Sent: Tue 04/01/2011 22:03
To: Freedom of Information
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Total Annual Figures for
Compromise Agreements, etc.
Dear Ipswich 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

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Ipswich Borough Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 21 working days (just over the statutory period) 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