Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Rochdale Metropolitan 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 Rochdale 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

Mailbox Council, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for your e mail which has been forwarded to the appropriate
service who will reply direct to you

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to
contact us

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Stacey Bullen L, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr. Cardin,

RE: - REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

Thank you for your request for information held by Rochdale Council which
was received at this office on 6^th January 2011, regarding Total Annual
Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

I write to advise you that your request is being considered.

Please be advised that a charge may be applicable for your request. We
will advise you of this in due course.

Should you have any queries, please contact me on the number below.

Yours sincerely

Information Governance Unit
Tel: 01706 925505

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Dear Stacey Bullen L,

By law, I believe the authority should have responded promptly and
by 1st February 2011.

Although I have received no response, to assist, I would like to
'sharpen' and reduce the scope of the original request as follows:

Please exclude all COT3 Agreements and all compromise agreements
drawn up in the following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (pay in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations

Further to this, please reduce the time period to the years between
2005 and 2010 i.e. the last six years.

I am researching this particular area and aim to view trends and
movements both regionally and nationally. It would benefit myself
and the authority if the figures reached were as accurate as
possible.

When responding, please give figures in calendar year format e.g.
2005 - 1; 2006 - 3; 2007 - 2; etc.

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Stacey Bullen L, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr. Cardin,

Further to your email below, please accept my apologies for the delay in
a response being sent to you. We received your request on 6th January,
and must respond within 20 working days, which means that the due date
was yesterday 3rd February. Your request was forwarded to the department
best able to deal with your queries, and I will follow up with them
straight away to try to get a response to you as soon as possible.

I apologies again for the delay in responding to you,

Yours sincerely,

Stacey Bullen
Information Governance Unit
Tel: 01706 925505

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Pat Higgins, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Further to your request for information, we provide details as follows:-

2007 - 1

2008 - 1

2009 - 1

2010 - 1

Regards

Stephen Harper

Service Director, Human Resources

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Dear Pat Higgins ,

Many thanks for your response. However, please could you answer the second part of my 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.

Sorry for any confusion caused,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Pat Higgins, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

I am out of the office until Monday 28 February, your emails are not being
forwarded. I will respond on my return. If you need any assistance with
Stephen Harper's calendar please contact Mary Taylor on x 4703 or Judith
Russell on x4129.

Pat

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Dear Pat Higgins ,

Welcome back. Please can you respond today?

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Pat Higgins, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I have checked the terms of the compromise Agreements used by the
Authority. These do not include reference to any waiver of rights under
FOI/DPA legislation. Does this answer your query?

Regards
Pat Higgins

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Dear Pat Higgins ,

Thanks very much for the time you've devoted to this request,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Rochdale Borough Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 36 working days (16 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