Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Leeds City 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 Leeds City 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

CS Freedom of Information, Leeds City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Paul Cardin

Thank you for your recent request for information (FOI 4888).

The Acknowledgement letter is attached hereto.

Yours sincerely

Derrick Macey                            
General Property Team Leader
Legal, Licensing and Registration Services
Leeds City Council  
Telephone: (0113) 395 1271
Fax: (0113) 247 4651
email: [email address]
www.leeds.gov.

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Res Customer Contact, Leeds City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please see attached letter in respect of your recent Freedom of
Information request.

Regards,

Paul Burns
Freedom of Information & Data Protection Officer
Performance and Improvement
Resources Directorate
Leeds City Council
Fax: (0113) 39 50568
[1]www.leeds.gov.uk

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Dear Res Customer Contact,

Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate your position
however this query is identical to one which has been sent to ALL
English councils. So far, I have had 122 (one hundred and twenty
two) full and detailed responses. These councils did not have any
difficulty in responding positively to what is a reasonable
request.

I am currently involved in research in this area and in order to
make the task somewhat more manageable for you, can I make the
following changes?

Please can you exclude compromise agreements drawn up in the
following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have
been initiated)

Also, to assist you further, I will narrow the time period down to
between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 122 councils have not found any difficulty, I
imagine that they may be taking a different approach to locating
the information.

Can I suggest that you query your Accounts Department? I ask this
because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing,
they are offered a financial incentive to end their working
contracts and not make legal approaches to the Council in the
future. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments. As they will be keeping an
adequate data storage / retrieval system, it will not be too
arduous a task for them to provide Annual total figures for
compromise agreements drawn up in these circumstances.

You could also put in a call to your Legal Department who may keep
a similar searchable database. (Also, re: the second part of my query. You could ask them whether it is POLICY to include FOI / DPA related "gagging / penalty clauses". No need to go through any files - just a simple phone call. Thanks in advance for that one.)

I hope the above information assists you. I don't believe that the
possession of inadequate data storage / retrieval systems warrants
the use of an exclusion under the FOI Act and look forward to your
response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Leeds City Council,

I'm afraid you haven't responded to the follow up email I sent to you on 25th January 2011.

This was sent almost a month ago and I'd appreciate it if you you responded as soon as possible.

As an update, 223 (two hundred and twenty three) English councils have responded positively and in full since 1st January 2011 to an identical query,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Res Customer Contact, Leeds City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please see attached letter regarding your enquiry. Please accept my
apologies for the delay.

Regards,

Paul Burns
Freedom of Information & Data Protection Officer
Performance and Improvement
Resources Directorate
Leeds City Council
Fax: (0113) 39 50568
[1]www.leeds.gov.uk

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Dear Res Customer Contact,

Imany thanks for your reply, but I'm afraid your response is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons.

You have not addressed the second part of my query i.e. Does the council include "gagging clauses", within compromise agreements, aimed at restricting the employee's future statutory querying rights with regard to FOI and / or DPA?

Also, a partial set of vague total figures is not adequate for a number of reasons:

1. There are no annual totals, as requested
2. You have not omitted TUPE or other areas which would unfairly inflate any declared totals
3. You have not explained the process you have undertaken which advanced you from a position of a refusal on a 'costs' exemption towards a vague declaration of uncertain totals

Can I therefore request that, now you have reached a more manageable figure, you further break the totals down annually and exclude the areas that I requested in the email I sent in good faith to reduce the scope of the original query?

I would not want to go to an internal review too soon and would appreciate your response. I am not asking for anything new, and would appreciate it if you did not avail yourselves of another 20 working days' grace.

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Leeds City Council,

Please can you advise what's happening with this request?

many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Leeds City Council,

I'd very much appreciate a response to my recent messages. This request has now run well over 50 days, which is over double the permitted time period.

272 councils have now responded positively and in full,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Res Customer Contact, Leeds City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please accept my apologies regarding the delay in responding to your request for further information/clarification in relation to your request.

I am currently looking at your follow-up and will reply shortly.

Again, please accept my apologies regarding the delay and if you have any further questions or would like to discuss this further please feel free to contact me either by email or telephone.

Regards,

Paul Burns
Freedom of Information & Data Protection Officer
Performance and Improvement
Resources Directorate
Leeds City Council

Tel: (0113) 22 43032
Fax: (0113) 39 50568
www.leeds.gov.uk

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Res Customer Contact, Leeds City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please see attached letter in respect of your recent Freedom of
Information request.

I would also like to apologise for the delay in responding to you.

Regards,

Paul Burns
Freedom of Information & Data Protection Officer
Performance and Improvement
Resources Directorate
Leeds City Council
Fax: (0113) 39 50568
[1]www.leeds.gov.uk

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Dear Leeds City Council,

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

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

As you will be aware, compromise agreements are a controversial area - and some would say they have an element of 'denying ex-employees' rights'. I believe there is a strong public interest in expecting council's to store the details of such agreements in an accessible manner - one which would be able to satisfy reasonable requests from the public, such as this one.

We have had 11 years of Freedom of Information and I am happy to state that 281 councils have, since January 1st 2011, responded positively and in full to an identical request. I'm disappointed however, that some councils, such as yours, have taken a LONG time to respond and when they do, the answer is in the negative. I don't believe the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of inadequate data storage / retrieval systems, causing 'cost exemptions' is good enough reason for withholding important public data.

Please take into account all the information I have supplied to date when conducting this internal 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

Burns, Paul, Leeds City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Cardin,

Please see attached letter in relation to your request for an internal
review of your recent Freedom of Information request (FOI 4888)

Regards

Paul Burns
Performance and Improvement Manager
Performance and Improvement
Resources Directorate
Leeds City Council

Tel: (0113) 22 43032
Fax: (0113) 39 50568
[1]www.leeds.gov.uk

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1. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/00700945/Application%20Data/Microsoft/Signatures/www.leeds.gov.uk
file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/00700945/Application%20Data/Microsoft/Signatures/www.leeds.gov.uk

Res Customer Contact, Leeds City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please see attached letter in relation to your request for an internal
review of your recent Freedom of Information request (FOI 4888)

Regards

Paul Burns
Performance and Improvement Manager
Performance and Improvement
Resources Directorate
Leeds City Council

Tel: (0113) 22 43032
Fax: (0113) 39 50568
[1]www.leeds.gov.uk

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/00700945/Application%20Data/Microsoft/Signatures/www.leeds.gov.uk

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Leeds City Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying the information. This internal review failed and I will now appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office.

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 less controversial areas of redundancy, severance 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