Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Lancashire County 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 partially successful.

Dear Lancashire County Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) 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 (including teaching staff) 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 provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 - 2; 2007 - 4; 2008 - 0; 2010 - 6; etc.

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

Freedom of Information, Lancashire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

We are writing to acknowledge receipt of your email dated 4 January 2011,
in which you request the disclosure of information under the provisions of
the above Act.

We have begun a search for the information you require and shall contact
you again when we are in a position to respond further. Should we envisage
any delays, or require more details from you, we will contact you
immediately.

In the meantime, if you have any queries about the above, do not hesitate
to contact us, quoting reference number 805.3.

Yours sincerely,

Holly Gregson

Freedom of Information | Access to Information Team

Lancashire County Council, PO Box 78,

County Hall, Preston, PR1 8XJ

Tel: 01772 533997

[1]www.lancashire.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Lancashire, a place where everyone matters

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References

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

Freedom of Information, Lancashire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Further to your email dated 4^th January 2011, in which you request the
disclosure of information under the provisions of the above Act, we are
now in a position to respond.

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of
current employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) 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 (including teaching staff) 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 provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 - 2; 2007 -
4; 2008 - 0; 2010 - 6; etc.

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.

We have been informed by our legal department that to retrieve the
information requested before 2007 would entail a manual trawl of files.
Before 2007 these type of files were not centrally recorded. To collate
this information would incur a commitment of resources in excess of the
limit of £450 set by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 (SI No. 3244 of 2004), which
equates to 18 hours of work. Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information
Act provides that a public authority is not obliged to comply with a
request where to do so would exceed such a limit.

We can provide information for the years 2007/08 to 2009/10 for the number
of compromise agreements:

2007/08 6
2008/09 7
2009/10 7

It is not Lancashire County Council's practice to ask any staff to forego
their right to approach the council in future with Freedom of Information
Act requests or Data Protection Act Subject Access Requests.

In respect of schools, we do not keep a record of these agreements and in
all cases, the agreement is between the school and the employee. Part IV
of Schedule 1 to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 defines schools as
separate public authorities for the purposes of the Act. Consequently,
your enquiry will need to be addressed to each of the schools within
Lancashire separately. Details of the schools within Lancashire can be
found on the County Council's website at the following URL:
[1]http://lccweb3/corporate/web/view.asp?si...
(links on the right of the page enable you to download the directory of
schools in either Excel or PDF formats).

In the event that you wish to complain about the manner in which your
enquiry has been handled, you should write in the first instance to The
Freedom of Information Officer, Lancashire County Council, PO Box 78,
County Hall, Preston PR1 8XJ, or email
[2][Lancashire County Council request email]

If, after this stage, you remain dissatisfied, you have the right to refer
the matter to the Information Commissioner, whose contact details are as
follows:

The Information Commissioner

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Tel: 01625 545700

Email: [3][email address]

Website: [4]http://www.ico.gov.uk

Your request will now be closed as of this date.

Yours sincerely

A Martin

Access to Information Officer

Freedom of Information

Lancashire County Council

PO Box 78

County Hall

Preston

PR1 8XJ

Tel: (01772) 531116

Fax: (01772) 530949

Email: [5][Lancashire County Council request email]

show quoted sections

Lancashire, a place where everyone matters

********************

References

Visible links
1. http://lccweb3/corporate/web/view.asp?si...
http://lccweb3/corporate/web/view.asp?si...
2. mailto:[Lancashire County Council request email]
mailto:[Lancashire County Council request email]
3. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
http://www.ico.gov.uk/
5. mailto:[Lancashire County Council request email]
mailto:[Lancashire County Council request email]

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Lancashire County 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