Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Sedgemoor District 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 Sedgemoor District 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

Personnel, Sedgemoor District Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Freedom of Information Request

Thank you for your request for information about Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements. Your request was received on Monday 10th 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 we will proceed to deal with your request.

If you have any queries about this email please contact me.

Yours sincerely

Amanda Gibbs,
Freedom of Information Officer

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Amanda Gibbs, Sedgemoor District Council

Further to your request for information, I can now provide the relevant figures in response to your query:

Annual Figures

Year Number
2005 1
2006 0
2007 2
2008 2
2009 20
2010 1
2011 0

We have no clause as part of a compromise agreement that would require any employee or ex-employee to forego their right to approach the Council in the future with FOI or DPA Subject Access requests under the relevant Acts.

If you are dissatisfied with the information provided, the Authority’s procedure provides for you to make a complaint, which will be dealt with through the Council’s normal complaints procedure. Should you not then be satisfied with the outcome you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Cambrian Buildings, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff, CF10 5FL.

Amanda Gibbs
Records Manager

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Dear Amanda Gibbs,

Many thanks for your response.

Please could you clarify that you haven't included the following circumstances and re-advise?

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

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Amanda Gibbs, Sedgemoor District Council

Thank you for your email.
The response has been edited to remove any agreements relating to the circumstances you mention and the response is now:

Year Number
2005 1
2006 0
2007 1
2008 1
2009 0
2010 1

I hope this is of use.

Amanda Gibbs
Records Manager

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Dear Amanda Gibbs,

Thank you very much for your time,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Amanda Gibbs, Sedgemoor District Council

Amanda Gibbs is out of the office until Tuesday 25th January.

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Sedgemoor District Council were one of the quickest respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 11 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