Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Manchester 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 Manchester 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

Suzan Gregory, Manchester City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Re: - Request for Information - Total annual figures for compromise
agreements - Reference Number: CEX/8CYDHE

Thank you for your request for information, which was received by
Manchester City Council on 4 January 2011.

It may take up to 20 working days (approximately 4 weeks) for the Council
to consider your request and to provide a formal response.

If this timescale needs to be extended to consider an exemption you will
be notified and kept informed.

Please be advised that there may be a charge for your request. You will be
advised of this in due course.

If you have any queries, please contact me on the number above.

Kind regards

Suzan Gregory
HR Specialist (Employee Relations)
Employee Relations Team
HR/OD

External Tel No : 0161 234 4404
Internal Tel No : 800 4404
Fax No : 0161 274 7022
Email address: [email address]
Web address : www.manchester.gov.uk

LOCATION ADDRESS : Manchester City Council, Number One First Street,
Manchester, M15 4FN
(for satellite navigation systems please use M1 5DE)

POSTAL ADDRESS : Manchester City Council, P.O. Box 532, Town Hall, M60 2LA

Paul Cardin To FOI requests at Manchester City Council
<[FOI #56795 email]> <[Manchester City Council request email]>
04/01/2011 23:03 cc
Subject Freedom of Information request - Total
Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements,
etc.

Dear Manchester 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

show quoted sections

Dear Suzan Gregory,

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

Dear Manchester City Council,

I'd be very grateful if you could respond to the reduced request I sent in good faith some weeks ago.

I am disappointed in your lack of response to date, given that my first request was sent as long ago as 4th January 2011 (over six weeks ago).

To avoid confusion, please also answer the second part of the original request i.e. Does the Council use gagging clauses in the area of FOI / DPA as part of their compromise agreements?

Many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Suzan Gregory, Manchester City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Re: - Request for Information - Total annual figures for compromise
agreements - Reference Number: CEX/8CYDHE

Thank you for your request for information, which was received by
Manchester City Council on 4 January 2011 and has been considered under
the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I apologise for the
delay in responding.

You originally requested information in relation to:

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.

In addition you contacted us via email on 2 February 2011 to ***sharpen***
and reduce the scope of your 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 can advise that this information is not held centrally and could only
be ascertained by reviewing the reason for each compromise agreement as
far as our records go back. This would require a manual examination of all
compromise agreements held at departmental level and is not currently
available in a readily accessible form without expending considerable
officer time in locating, retrieving and compiling this information.

It is estimated that the statutory cost limit of **450 (which is
calculated as being approximately 2.5 days of a council officer***s time
to determine whether the Council holds the information, locate, retrieve
and extract the information) will be exceeded if the Council supplied the
requested information. If you require further information the Council***s
Fees and Charges policy is available on the Council***s web site at:
www.manchester.gov.uk/freedom/pdf/feesch...

However, in response to part 2 of your FoIA request, I am able to confirm
that the City Council are unaware of any compromise agreements that
attempt to prevent an employee/ex employee from making future FOI or DPA
requests.

Please note if you are not satisfied with this response you may ask for an
internal review. If you wish to complain you should contact me in the
first instance.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Employee Relations Team
HR/OD Service

Web address : www.manchester.gov.uk

LOCATION ADDRESS : Manchester City Council, Number One First Street,
Manchester, M15 4FN
(for satellite navigation systems please use M1 5DE)

POSTAL ADDRESS : Manchester City Council, P.O. Box 532, Town Hall, M60 2LA

show quoted sections

Dear Manchester City Council,

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

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

Your decision not to release the information is unique for a number of reasons:

1. A large number of councils who returned a similar 'costs' exemption response were, like yourself, offered a subsequent reduction in the scope of the initial request. These councils went on to reconsider before proceeding with a full and detailed answer. Whereas you have insisted on a refusal.

2. You have taken the best part of 2 months to respond with a costs exemption

Please take into account all the information I have submitted to date. To give you a picture of the wider context here, this request has been made to ALL English Councils above a certain size. To date, since 1st January 2011, 240 (two hundred and forty) councils have responded positively and in full. We have had eleven years of FOI and I would have hoped that your council would have been working towards an effective data storage / retrieval system that works with the public interest in mind. You have not advised me of any plans to do so and appear to be happy to continue maintaining an unresponsive system.

It is not right that the public suffers and obstacles are placed in the way of their information because you are persevering with the upkeep of a cumbersome data storage system. Particularly in light of the positive response from hundreds of your LGA colleagues.1st January 2011, by 208 local authorities.

I don't think that your possession and maintenance of a cumbersome, unresponsive method of storing and retrieving information is an adequate justification for refusal.

I also believe that the public interest in releasing this information outweighs the public interest in not releasing it - regardless of the costs involved. Costs which seem to be occasioned by the detrimental (to the public) effect of your own inadequate systems.

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

Cathryn Cryer, Manchester City Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Re: Request for Information - Internal Review - Reference No:
CEX/8CYDHE-C

Thank you for your email dated 2nd March 2011 regarding the Council's
response to your request for information.

Your email will be treated as a request for internal review of the
decision and will be dealt with in accordance with the Council***s Access
to Information Complaint Procedure which is available on the Council's
website at :
http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/script...

Please note your request will be handled as speedily as possible.

Yours sincerely
Cath Cryer
Information Compliance Unit
Democratic Services
PO Box 532
Town Hall
Albert Square
Manchester
M60 2LA

Email: [Manchester City Council request email]
Website: www.manchester.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Cathryn Cryer,

Please advise what is happening with the internal review,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Suzan Gregory, Manchester City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,
Re: - Request for Internal Review - Reference Number: CEX/8CYDHE-C

In response to your request for an internal review of your FOIA request
which was received by Manchester City Council on 2 March 2011.

Please accept our apologises for the delay in responding to your request.

Your request for an internal review of the decision will be dealt with in
accordance with the Council's access to Information Compliant Procedure
and we hope that the Council will be in a position to let you have a
response within the next fortnight.

Kind regards

Employee Relations Team
HR/OD

Web address : www.manchester.gov.uk

LOCATION ADDRESS : Manchester City Council, Number One First Street,
Manchester, M15 4FN
(for satellite navigation systems please use M1 5DE)

POSTAL ADDRESS : Manchester City Council, P.O. Box 532, Town Hall, M60 2LA

show quoted sections

Dear Suzan Gregory,

Hi. You appear to have taken over a month to respond and acknowledge this request for an internal review.

But not given any reason for the delay. Could you explain please?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Suzan Gregory, Manchester City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

In response to your email, once again may we apologise for the delay in
responding to your request. It was my understanding that we had
acknowledged your initial request for a review.

As part of our internal procedure we are required to conduct a thorough
internal review of our response to your FOIA and this investigation is
ongoing. We hope to conclude the review within the next fortnight and
respond accordingly.

Kind regards

Employee Relations Team
HR/OD

Web address : www.manchester.gov.uk

LOCATION ADDRESS : Manchester City Council, Number One First Street,
Manchester, M15 4FN
(for satellite navigation systems please use M1 5DE)

POSTAL ADDRESS : Manchester City Council, P.O. Box 532, Town Hall, M60 2LA

show quoted sections

Dear Suzan Gregory,

Please can you advise what is happening with this query. The two weeks has come and gone and I haven't heard anything.

I'd be most grateful for a response and an update,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Manchester City 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

Helen Ives, Manchester City Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Re: - Request for Interview Review *** Total Annual Figures for Compromise
Agreements *** Reference Number: CEX/8CYDHE

I am writing in response to you request for an internal review, submitted
on 2 March 2011, in relation to the handling of the above Freedom on
Information Request. I would like to apologise for the delay in
responding.

The reasons provided for requesting a review are summarised as follows:

(a) a large number of Councils who returned a similar ***costs***
exemption were offered a reduction in the scope of the initial request and
went on to reconsider, whereas Manchester refused;

(b) the Council***s response did not comply with statutory time limits
response;

(c) the requestor believes that it is in the public interest
to release the information, regardless of the costs involved.

I have undertaken an internal review of the above and have taken into
account the following factors:

1) There is no centralised system for the recording of compromise
agreements, therefore this information would have to be
retrieved from a variety of sources, see points 6 and 7 below.
2) There are currently 20,802 employees (including school based
employees).
3) Your request covers a six year period.
4) Based on a sample of 10 files, it is estimated that it would take an
officer 10 minutes to locate, retrieve and extract information
from each manual file. This equates to 1 hour 40 minutes.
5) Based upon the above estimate it would take approximately 3,467 hours
to check the manual files to ascertain the number of
compromise agreement completed.
6) Coupled with this, the manual files for employees are stored at
different locations including individual Schools, Manchester City
Councils Personnel Shared Service Centre, and Management Support for
Schools.
7) Legal Services may hold some relevant data, in that they have case
files for employment tribunal cases and other sufficiently
complex matters. The manual and electronic filing systems and archives,
would need to be reviewed to identify the existence of
compromise agreements. Legal Services have estimated that they receive
requests for advice in excess of 100 compromise
agreements each year, it would therefore be necessary to review files for
each fiscal year to extract the relevant categories.
Assuming 20 minutes per case for locating the files, arranging for the
retrieval of such files from archives, and then inspecting the
files to determine whether or not the information requested exists in the
files, would take over 33 hours for each year alone based
on an average of 100 files per year. Over a 6 year period, this would
amount to 200 hours. It should be noted that Legal Services
do not have case files for each and every compromise agreement.
8) Your request for information was submitted on 4 January 2011 and the
response to your request was provided on 2 March
2011.

My conclusion in relation to (a) and (c) is therefore as follows:

To summarise, the Council currently does not have any readily means
available by which to determine details of any compromise agreements that
may have been entered into by individual Services/Directorates or by
Schools in so far as that falls within or outside of the time period
requested. There is no readily identifiable source from which such
information can be ascertained apart from reviewing above mentioned
records or for all Council and School managed employees to identify the
existence of a compromise agreement, which would equate to a minimum of
3,667 working hours.

I am therefore satisfied that the task of reviewing above mentioned
records to identify the existence of a compromise agreement would be one
that would fall significantly outside of the Fees Regulations. It is
estimated that the statutory cost limit of **450 (which is calculated as
being 2.5 days of a council officer***s time to determine whether the
Council holds the information, locate, retrieve and extract the
information) will be exceeded if the Council supplied the requested
information. If you require further information the Council***s Fees and
Charges Policy is available on the Council***s web site at:
www.manchester.gov.uk/freedom/pdf/feesch...

In relation to (b), I agree that the statutory time limit for responding
to your request was not adhered to. This was due to an unusually high
volume of activity taking place at that time within the Human Resources
team in supporting the organisation to implement the staffing implications
resulting from the Comprehensive Spending Review. I realise that this is
not an acceptable reason and that a response should have been provided to
you sooner therefore I would also like to take the opportunity to
apologise for the delay.

If you are not satisfied with this response, you may ask for a second
internal review. Please contact me in the first instance.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review process,
you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

Pat Fetherstone
Head of Service Delivery
HR & OD
Manchester City Council

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Manchester 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.