Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Nottinghamshire 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 Nottinghamshire 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

Enquiries, Nottinghamshire County Council

Thank you for contacting us, you should expect a response from us by the
end of the next day.

Your enquiry is shown below :

Dear Nottinghamshire 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

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Nottinghamshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Following your recent enquiry, unfortunately I am not able to answer your enquiry so I have raised it with a specialist and we will get back to you within five working days.

Alternatively, for any other information and advice on all County Council services please visit our website at http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk or email us at [Nottinghamshire County Council request email]

Yours sincerely

Catherine Hallam

Nottinghamshire County Council

You can now follow us on twitter. To sign up and receive updates go to: http://www.twitter.com/nottscc

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Dear Catherine,

I appreciate your time on this and your very quick update on my query,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Enquiries, Nottinghamshire County Council

Thank you for contacting us, you should expect a response from us by the
end of the next day.

Your enquiry is shown below :

Dear Catherine,

I appreciate your time on this and your very quick update on my
query,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

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Denise Makar, Nottinghamshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST - Ref: NCC-004115-10
Thank you for your request for information. Your request was received on
6 January 2011 and I am dealing with it under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

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 I will proceed to deal with your request.

You will receive the information requested within 20 working days (by 4
February 2011) unless the Council does not hold the information or there
is a reason for it to be withheld. I will write to you in any event.

If you have any requirements regarding the format any information should
be supplied in, e.g. the language to be used, audio, large print and so
on, then please let me know. If you have not already done so, please
supply your email address if you are willing to receive the information
electronically.

If you have any queries or concerns then please do not hesitate to contact
me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Further information about your rights is also available from the
Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45
www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Denise Makar
Customer Complaints Officer
Corporate Complaints Team
Nottinghamshire County Council
(0115) 977 2044

Catherine Hallam

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Denise Makar, Nottinghamshire County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST - Ref: NCC-004115-10

I refer to your request under the above legislation for information about
total annual figures for compromise agreements.

Following a search of our paper and electronic records I have established
that the information you requested is not held by the Council. I can
confirm that no employees or former employees are on record as having
signed compromise agreements directly related to the resolving of
dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and external investigation(s) /
whistle blowing incident(s).

In response to the second point, there is no condition, as part of the
compromise agreement, to sign and forgo the right to approach the council
in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subject Access
requests under the relevant Acts.

If you have any queries or concerns about this letter then please do not
hesitate to contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number
above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of the decision,
you should write to the Corporate Complaints Manager, County Hall, West
Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 7QP or e-mail [email address].

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint or review, you
may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.
Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the
complaints procedure provided by the Council. The Information Commissioner
can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Denise Makar
Customer Complaints Officer
Corporate Complaints Team
Nottinghamshire County Council
(0115) 977 2044

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Nottinghamshire County Council were one of the quicker respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 14 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