Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Mid Suffolk District Council

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The request was successful.

Dear Mid Suffolk District 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

Valerie Coe, Mid Suffolk District Council

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request below. As you may be aware the Act allows for up to 20 working days for response giving a deadline of 01 February. I will of course reply sooner if possible.

The Council is entitled to apply reasonable costs for disbursements (i.e photocopying, postage etc), but where such costs are under £5.00 the Council will make no charge. However, if costs exceed that limit then a charge may be made. Where charges will apply proper notice will be given to you prior to the information being released.

Val Coe
Freedom of Information Officer
Mid Suffolk District Council
131 High Street
Needham Market
IP6 8DL

Telephone: 01449 724673
E-mail: [Mid Suffolk District Council request email]

show quoted sections

Marion Rivers, Mid Suffolk District Council

I refer to your Freedom of Information request relating to the above and
can respond that no former or current employees have signed compromise
agreements directly related to the resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s)
/ internal and external investigation(s) / whistleblowing incident(s) and
as such no former or current employees 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.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled you may ask
for an internal review. Please contact me at the address below if you
wish to request a review. If you are not happy 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 SK9 5AF

Marion Rivers
pp Val Coe, Freedom of Information Officer
Mid Suffolk District Council
131 High Street
Needham Market
IP6 8DL

Telephone: 01449 724673
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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Mid Suffolk District Council were one of the quicker respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 11 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 - although 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