Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Maidstone Borough Council

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The request was successful.

Dear Maidstone Borough 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

Elizabeth Roach, Maidstone Borough Council

Date 12 January 2011
My Ref FOIreq/AW/er

Dear Sir/Madam,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

Thank you for your request for information about figures for compromise
agreements. Your request was received on 4 January 2011 and I am dealing
with it under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I intend
to deal with your request by 1 February 2011.

[In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I
will let you know. A fees notice will be issued to you, and you will be
required to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.]

Your request will be subject to any exemption which the Council is
entitled to apply to refuse your request. Some of these are absolute
exemptions, and some only apply where the public interest in refusing to
supply the information outweighs that in disclosing the information.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference above in any future communications.

Yours sincerely

Angela Woodhouse

Head of Change and Scrutiny

Change and Scrutiny Team

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent
ME15 6JQ

t 01622 602620 f 01622 602978 w [1]www.maidstone.gov.uk

Elizabeth Roach/Penny Cloke

Executive Support

Maidstone Borough Council, King Street, Maidstone, ME15 6JQ

t 01622 602605/2309

e [email address]/[email address]

Dear Maidstone Borough 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

Our reception is located at the Maidstone Gateway, King Street, Maidstone,
Kent ME15 6JQ

http://www.maidstone.gov.uk

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References

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1. http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/

Dena Smart, Maidstone Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find attached our response to your recent FOI request

Your sincerely

Dena Smart

Head of Human Resources

Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent
ME15 6JQ

t 01622 602712

e [1][email address]

Our reception is located at the Maidstone Gateway, King Street, Maidstone,
Kent ME15 6JQ

http://www.maidstone.gov.uk

This email is confidential. If you receive it by mistake, please advise
the sender by email immediately. Any unauthorised use of the message or
attachments is prohibited. Unless stated otherwise, any opinions are
personal and cannot be attributed to Maidstone Borough Council. Unless a
Purchase Order is attached this email is not a Contract or an Order. It is
your responsibility to carry out virus checks before opening any
attachment.

References

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1. mailto:[email address]

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Maidstone Borough Council were one of the quickest respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 16 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 - 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