Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Sandwell 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 partially successful.

Dear Sandwell Borough Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the followig:

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

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for contacting Sandwell Council.

Your request has been passed to the relevant service area, who will contact you shortly.

Please quote your reference number INT1-127036884 on all future correspondence.

Regards

Corporate Contact Centre
Customer Services
Transform Sandwell

www.sandwell.gov.uk

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Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Please find attached a letter from Sandwell Council in response to your recent contact.

This letter will advise you of the timescales for response and will provide our contact details should you need to get in touch.

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Please do not reply to this e-mail but instead use the contact details found in the letter.

Jayne Egginton, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your FOI request. I will be able to fully respond to you by
3 February.

Yours Sincerely

Jayne M Egginton

Group Manager and Solicitor

Sandwell MBC (Legal Services)

PO Box 2374

Oldbury, West Midlands

B69 3DE

DX 710070 SANDWELL

(: 0121 569 3216

Fax: 0121 569 3210

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

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References

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Jayne Egginton, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Further to my e mail of 11 January in connection with your request for
information under the Freedom of Information Act. I set out my response
below:

Request

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).

Reply

The total number of compromise agreements we have on record to the
resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and external
investigation(s)/whistleblowing incident(s).are:

1995 - 1

2005 - 5

2006 - 21

2007 - 28

2008 - 18

2009 - 45

2010 - 83

I am unable to provide details of the COT 3s in respect of the above
figures. To do so would involve the Council undertaking work to collect
this information that would exceed the fee limit (18 hours) as set out in
the Freedom of information Regulations.

Below, I am able to provide, which is readily to hand, the following
figures for the Equal pay issues. These are combined compromise agreements
as well as COT 3s:

Date Numbers
26/01/2009 4477
26/06/2009 382
26/08/2010 491
26/09/2010 15
26/10/2010 2
26/11/2010 32
26/01/2011 175
Totals 5574

Request

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.

Reply

None

If you are not satisfied with the course of action I have taken, you may
ask for the decision to be reviewed by writing to:

The Service Insight Team

Sandwell MBC

Sandwell Council House

PO BOX 2374

Oldbury

West Midlands

B69 3DE

Jayne M Egginton

Group Manager and Solicitor

[1]sandwell_mbc

Sandwell Council... working for you

Sandwell Council

Oldbury

West Midlands

B69 3DE

W: [2]www.sandwell.gov.uk

T: 0121 569 3216

F: 0121 569 3137

E: [3][email address]

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information. It
may also be legally privileged. It is intended solely for the individual
to whom it is addressed. If this email has been misdirected, please notify
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information contained, and all copies must be deleted immediately.

References

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3. mailto:[email address]

Dear Jayne Egginton,

I really appreciate your very quick and comprehensive response. May I ask you to refine the results a little further?

Please could you exclude any compromise agreements which refer to the following circumstances and re-advise?

1. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have been initiated)
2. Purely redundancy situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations

I am attempting to isolate those circumstances where a dispute will have necessitated the drawing up of a compromise agreement which usually involves the termination of the employees' work contract. Usually, a reference is provided for future employers.

I do hope that now you have kindly provided a focussed number, it will not be too big a task to refine it further,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Jayne Egginton, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Paul

Thank you for your e mail. To undertake this work would mean spending about 5 or more days collating all the information. This would take us beyond the fee limit (18 hours) as set out in the Freedom of information Regulations. I am sorry I cannot assist further on this.

Yours sincerely

Jayne Egginton

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Dear Sandwell Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Sandwell Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.'.

Please can you separate the compromise agreements from the COT3 agreements and re-advise? It appears to me that the bulk of the work has been done and I thank you for this. The remaining task should not be 5 days' work.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/to...

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for contacting Sandwell Council.

Your request has been passed to the relevant service area, who will contact you shortly.

Please quote your reference number INT1-128718512 on all future correspondence.

Regards

Corporate Contact Centre
Customer Services
Transform Sandwell

www.sandwell.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your enquiry.

I can advise you that your request for review has been logged with reference 1-128791917.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

Regards

Corporate Contact Centre
Customer Services
Transform Sandwell
www.sandwell.gov.uk

[THREAD ID:1-24MVUE]

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Nigel Parr, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please find enclosed the Council's response to your request for a review
of the Council's handling of your Freedom of Information request.

Yours sincerely,

Nigel Parr

Nigel Parr
Data Protection/Freedom of Information Officer

[1]sandwell_mbc

Sandwell Council...working for you

Sandwell Council
Oldbury
West Midlands
B69 3DE
W: [2]www.sandwell.gov.uk

T: 0121 569 3248
F: 0121 569 3182
E: [3][email address]

References

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2. mailto:www.sandwell.gov.uk
3. mailto:[email address]

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Sandwell Borough Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying the information.

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 less controversial areas of redundancy, severance 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