Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Norfolk 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 successful.

Dear Norfolk County Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total
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

FOI, Norfolk County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request, received by us today, 6
January 2011.

Our twenty working day deadline for your request is 3 February 2011 and we
aim to respond as soon as possible within the time period.

You will be informed in advance if there is a charge for supplying copies
of the information. We will also provide an explanation if any
information is not released to you. If the requested information contains
references to any third parties, we may need to consult with them before
deciding whether or not to release the information.

Should you have any queries regarding your request, please feel free to
contact us at [Norfolk County Council request email] .

Yours sincerely,

Deirdre Sharp

show quoted sections

Sharp, Deirdre, Norfolk County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

I am writing with reference to your FOI request of 5 January 2011 in which
you asked for:
1) The annual figures for the total 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 andexternal investigation(s) / whistleblowing incident(s).

2) 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.

In respect of Question 2 above, the answer is nil.

In respect of Question 1, while we have located such information as we
hold and believe that the task of collating it can be undertaken within
the cost limit for which S.12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
provides (we estimate a further 6 to 8 hours' work), it now seems unlikely
that we will be able to assign someone do this work before the deadline
for completing this request, i.e. 3 February 2011.

As you will be aware, staff shortage is not something for which the Act
provides and I apologise for the inconvenience to you. I hope to be able
to send the response in respect of Question 1 before the end of next week,
i.e. 11 February 2011.

Yours sincerely,

Deirdre Sharp

The information contained in this email is intended only for the person or organization to which it is addressed. If you have received it by mistake, please disregard and notify the sender immediately. Unauthorized disclosure or use of such information may be a breach of legislation or confidentiality and may be legally privileged.

Emails sent from and received by Members and employees of Norfolk County Council may be monitored. They may also be disclosed to other people under legislation, particularly the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.

Unless this email relates to Norfolk County Council business it will be regarded by the Council as personal and will not be authorized by or sent on behalf of the Council. The sender will have sole responsibility for any legal actions or disputes that may arise.

Dear Deirdre,

Many thanks for your response.

And thank you also for taking the trouble to explain the constraints under which you are working.

If it makes the task more manageable, may I reduce the scope of it as follows?

Please restrict your search to between the years 2006 and 2010 i.e. the last 6 years.

Also, please exclude compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

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

Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Sharp, Deirdre, Norfolk County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your very helpful message.

Yours sincerely,

Deirdre Sharp

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Sharp, Deirdre, Norfolk County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

I wrote to you on 31 January 2011 extending the deadline for completion of
your request of 5 January to today, 11 February. You very kindly agreed to
this extension.

I still do not have details of the extent to which we hold relevant
information and so cannot meet today's deadline. I have been assured that
I will be in a position to fully respond by next Thursday, 17 February
2011. Are you agreeable to this further extension?

Yours sincerely,

Deirdre Sharp

The information contained in this email is intended only for the person or organization to which it is addressed. If you have received it by mistake, please disregard and notify the sender immediately. Unauthorized disclosure or use of such information may be a breach of legislation or confidentiality and may be legally privileged.

Emails sent from and received by Members and employees of Norfolk County Council may be monitored. They may also be disclosed to other people under legislation, particularly the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.

Unless this email relates to Norfolk County Council business it will be regarded by the Council as personal and will not be authorized by or sent on behalf of the Council. The sender will have sole responsibility for any legal actions or disputes that may arise.

Dear Deirdre,

Many thanks for the update and yes, please take the extra time.

Please don't forget the second question within the original request i.e.

"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."

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Sharp, Deirdre, Norfolk County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

We have now processed your request of 5 January 2011. Once again I
apologise for the delays in getting the information together to send to
you.

Regarding annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total 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).

The figures are:

2004 - 0

2005 - 3

2006 - 1

2007 - 3

2008 - 6

2009 - 14

2010 - 18

2011 - 2 (to date)

Regarding 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:

We have no records of any employees signing and forgoing their rights
under the Freedom of Information Act and/or the Data Protection Act or any
other relevant Acts.

I believe that we have responded fully to the extent that we hold relevant
information but if you are dissatisfied with our handling of your request
you have the right of appeal through the Council's internal complaints
procedure by setting out the grounds of your appeal in writing to the
Freedom of Information Officer at:

Freedom of Information & Data Protection Unit
The Archive Centre
Martineau Lane
Norwich NR1 2DQ

e-mail: [1][Norfolk County Council request email]
Telephone: 01603 222661

If you are dissatisfied after pursuing the complaints procedure, you may
apply to the Information Commissioner under Section 50 of the Act for a
decision whether your request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of Part I of the Act. Contact details as
follows:-

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone 01625 545 700
[2]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Deirdre Sharp

The information contained in this email is intended only for the person or organization to which it is addressed. If you have received it by mistake, please disregard and notify the sender immediately. Unauthorized disclosure or use of such information may be a breach of legislation or confidentiality and may be legally privileged.

Emails sent from and received by Members and employees of Norfolk County Council may be monitored. They may also be disclosed to other people under legislation, particularly the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.

Unless this email relates to Norfolk County Council business it will be regarded by the Council as personal and will not be authorized by or sent on behalf of the Council. The sender will have sole responsibility for any legal actions or disputes that may arise.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Norfolk County Council request email]
2. http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Norfolk County Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 31 working days (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