Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Redcar and Cleveland Borough 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 Redcar & Cleveland Borough 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

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

FOI request - Ref FOI/11/016

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your request for information.
I have asked the relevant officers of the Authority to commence enquiries
immediately to find all applicable information relating to your request
under the FOI Act and to supply any which is found to me.

Your request has to be processed within a maximum of 20 working days,
which means the Council must provide you with the information it has
(assuming no exemptions are claimed) by 04.02.2011. If it is possible to
provide you with the information within a shorter timescale then that will
be done.

Should you have any queries about this matter please don’t hesitate to
contact me.

regards
Information Officer

Paul Cardin FOI requests at Redcar & Cleveland Borough
<[FOI #57133 email]> To Council
<[Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council request email]>
06/01/2011 22:27 cc
Subject Freedom of Information request - Total Annual
Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

     Dear Redcar & Cleveland Borough 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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Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

FOI 11/016

Further to the acknowledgement of your request, I have received a response
from the Head of Legal and Governance and I can confirm we do hold the
information.

Your questions and our response are attached  :
 
    As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total
    of current employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff)
     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.

Our Response:

2005 - 14
2006 - 3
2007 - 6
2008 - 13
2009 - 11
2010 - 30 (NB The figure for this year is higher than normal due to a
large number of voluntary redundancies at a particular establishment where
an external body required compromise agreements to be in place because of
contractual arrangements)
2011 - 2

We are not aware of any staff being asked to 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 as part of any compromise
agreement.

We do not hold any records prior to 2005 and to access the information
would require the manual scrutiny of individual files. To do this would
exceed the time/cost limits of 18 hours/£350 allowed under the Freedomof
Information legislation.
I trust that this satisfies your request for information. If you are not
satisfied with how your request has been dealt with then you are free to
make a complaint either to the Council, in order to ask for a review, or
to the Information Commissioner. You will find details of the complaints
procedure on the Council's Website at
http://www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk/main....
(alternatively by using the A-Z Index from the home page). The Information
Commissioner is an independent person who has responsibility for
overseeing the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act
2000. More details can be obtained from the Information Commissioner’s
website at www.ico.gov.uk .
Yours sincerely
FOI Officer

Dear Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council,

Thanks very much for your response.

I am currently involved in research in this area and am aiming to isolate annual totals for agreements drawn up to terminate working contracts. These are used as a method of avoiding tribunal proceedings / approaches to the press / future legal claims.

I appreciate your detailed response, however now that you have arrived at these figures, could I ask that you exclude any compromise agreements drawn up in the
following circumstances:

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

I may assist if you query your Accounts Department,
because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing,
they are offered a financial incentive to end their working
contracts and not make legal approaches to the Council in the
future. Your Accounts department should keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments, as part of a searchable data storage / retrieval system.

You could also put in a call to your Legal Department who may keep a similar searchable database.

I hope the above information assists you in this.

Many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

FOI request - Ref FOI/11/077

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your request for information.
I have asked the relevant officers of the Authority to commence enquiries
immediately to find all applicable information relating to your request
under the FOI Act and to supply any which is found to me.

Your request has to be processed within a maximum of 20 working days,
which means the Council must provide you with the information it has
(assuming no exemptions are claimed) by 28.02.2011. If it is possible to
provide you with the information within a shorter timescale then that will
be done.

Should you have any queries about this matter please don’t hesitate to
contact me.

regards
Information Officer

__________________

Dear Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council,
Thanks very much for your response.
I am currently involved in research in this area and am aiming to
isolate annual totals for agreements drawn up to terminate working
contracts. These are used as a method of avoiding tribunal
proceedings / approaches to the press / future legal claims.

I appreciate your detailed response, however now that you have
arrived at these figures, could I ask that you exclude any
compromise agreements drawn up in the
following circumstances:

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

I may assist if you query your Accounts Department,
because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing,
they are offered a financial incentive to end their working
contracts and not make legal approaches to the Council in the
future. Your Accounts department should keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments, as part of a searchable
data storage / retrieval system.

You could also put in a call to your Legal Department who may keep
a similar searchable database.

I hope the above information assists you in this.
Many thanks in advance,
Yours faithfully,
Paul Cardin

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

FOI 11/077
Further to the acknowledgement of your request, I have received a response
from and I can confirm we do hold  the information.

You asked that:
you exclude any
compromise agreements drawn up in the
following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have
been initiated)
         Please provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 - 2;
        2007 - 4; 2008 - 0; 2010 - 6; etc.

        Our Response:
                2005 - 14
               2006 - 3
               2007 - 6
               2008 - 11
               2009 - 11
               2010 - 11
               2011 - 2

I trust that this satisfies your request for information. If you are not
satisfied with how your request has been dealt with then you are free to
make a complaint either to the Council, in order to ask for a review, or
to the Information Commissioner. You will find details of the complaints
procedure on the Council's Website at
:http://www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk/main....
The Information Commissioner is an independent person who has
responsibility for overseeing the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom
of Information Act 2000. More details can be obtained from the Information
Commissioner’s website at www.ico.gov.uk .

Yours sincerely
FOI Officer

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 21 working days (just 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