Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Oxford City Council

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The request was successful.

Dear Oxford City 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

Oxford City Council

Good morning

Thank you for your email below, regarding a Freedom of Information
request.

Your request was received on 06 January 2011 and you will receive a
response within 20 working days, as required under the Freedom of
Information Act.

Yours sincerely

Sent on behalf of Michael Newman (Corporate Secretariat Manager &
Freedom of Information Officer)
Oxford City Council, Town Hall, St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BX
[Oxford City Council request email]

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Oxford City Council

Good afternoon,

Further to the acknowledgement below, I can respond as follows:

1. Annual figures for individuals who have signed compromise agreement:
2009/10 -51
2010/11 - 23 to date (these figures do not include COT3 agreements of
which there have been 10 to date in 2010/11

Please note that:
a. The Council does not hold records before 2009 and so I am unable to
provide figures before 2009/10.
b. These figures include a majority of ex-employees who opted for
voluntary redundancy. The Council does not hold figures on the
reason(s) for leaving.

2. 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. Zero

Yours sincerely

Sent on behalf of Michael Newman (Corporate Secretariat Manager &
Freedom of Information Officer) Oxford City Council, Town Hall, St
Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BX [Oxford City Council request email]

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Dear Oxford City Council,

Many thanks for your response. I appreciate the time you have put
into my query.

As your figures look a little on the high side, please could you
exclude compromise agreements drawn up in the following
circumstances and re-advise?

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

I am aiming to research national trends and movements in this area
and am hoping to gain accurate information, and to provide a fair
representation of how often they are used for every English
council.

I trust that given the relatively small amount of records you will
need to work through, this task will not be too arduous.

many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Oxford City Council

Good morning,

Thank you for your email below.

I will speak to the relevant service areas and report back to you in due
course.

Kind Regards

Sent on behalf of Michael Newman (Corporate Secretariat Manager &
Freedom of Information Officer)
Oxford City Council, Town Hall, St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BX
[Oxford City Council request email]

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Oxford City Council

Good morning,

Further to the email below, I can respond as follows:

As requested, I have excluded the following categories of compromise
agreements:

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

The revised figures are therefore as follows:
2009/10 - 3
2010/11 to date - 0.
As previously stated these figures exclude the majority of employees who
opted for voluntary redundancy.

Yours sincerely

Sent on behalf of Michael Newman (Corporate Secretariat Manager &
Freedom of Information Officer)
Oxford City Council, Town Hall, St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BX
[Oxford City Council request email]

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Oxford City Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 34 working days (14 above 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