Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Southampton City 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 Southampton City 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

Lewis, Alison, Southampton City Council

1 Attachment

Please find attached formal acknowledgement to your Freedom of Information
Request.

Alison

Alison Lewis
Support Manager

Organisational Development

Directorate of Resources

Southampton City Council
Telephone (023) 8083 2976

This email is confidential but may have to be disclosed under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004. If you are not the person or organisation it
was meant for, apologies, please ignore it, delete it and notify us. SCC
does not make legally binding agreements or accept formal
notices/proceedings by email. E-mails may be monitored.

FOI Requests, Southampton City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please see the attached letter in response to your Freedom of Information
request of 7 January 2011.

If there is any problem with the attachment, please let me know.

Yours sincerely,

Vikas Gupta

Information Compliance Officer

Southampton City Council

This email is confidential but may have to be disclosed under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004. if you are not the person or organisation it
was meant for, apologies, please ignore it, delete it and notify us. SCC
does not make legally binding agreements or accept formal
notices/proceedings by email. E-mails may be monitored. This e-mail (and
its attachments) is intended only for the use of the person(s) to whom it
is addressed and may contain information which is privileged and/or
confidential. If it has come to you in error you must take no action
based on it, nor must you copy or show it to anyone"

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Requests,

Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate your position
however this query is identical to one which has been sent to ALL
English councils. To date, since January 1st 2011, I have had 183
(one hundred and eighty three) full and detailed positive responses. These councils did not have any difficulty in responding to my request.

In the spirit of reducing the scope and making your search more manageable, 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
5. Purely voluntary severance 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

FOI Requests, Southampton City Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email. We have provided you with the information you
originally requested and we provided the information in the format you
requested.

Could you please clarify what information you are requesting now.

Yours sincerley

Vikas

Vikas Gupta

Information Compliance Officer

Southampton City Council

This email is confidential but may have to be disclosed under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004. if you are not the person or organisation it
was meant for, apologies, please ignore it, delete it and notify us. SCC
does not make legally binding agreements or accept formal
notices/proceedings by email. E-mails may be monitored. This e-mail (and
its attachments) is intended only for the use of the person(s) to whom it
is addressed and may contain information which is privileged and/or
confidential. If it has come to you in error you must take no action
based on it, nor must you copy or show it to anyone"

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Requests,

Please accept my apologies for sending an inappropriate email. This was sent in error and you were not the intended recipient.

The message I had intended to send is as follows:

Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate the time you have devoted to this request. I am conducting research on this subject and I'm a little concerned that some of the annual numbers declared look a little 'on the high side'. As you now appear to have reached a manageable total figure, I'd be very grateful if you could reduce the scope, and please exclude all COT3 Agreements and 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
5. Purely voluntary severance situations

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

My ultimate aim is to view trends and movements both regionally and nationally. It would benefit me greatly, and hopefully yourselves if the figures reached were as accurate as possible.

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI Requests, Southampton City Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I refer to your FOI request of 7 February 2011.

Your request has been responded to below:

COT3's are the method of compromising ET proceedings and a compromise
agreement should not be used in those circumstances. This means that
compromise agreement would only ever be used in a situation where
proceedings have been brought. The very nature of a compromise agreement
is that both parties mutually agree to enter into it. Therefore every
compromise agreement that SCC enters into is a voluntary severance and in
those circumstances the answer to your revised enquiry is none.

Use of any material supplied in response to your Freedom of Information
request including reproduction or transmission in any form by any means
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored on
any retrieval system of any nature of any material contained in these
pages may not be made without permission. No use of any material is
authorised without the express written permission of the Solicitor to the
Council. The supply of documents does not give you an automatic right to
re-use the documents in a way that would infringe copyright.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to: Corporate Complaints Officer,
Corporate Policy and Performance Division, Southampton City Council, Civic
Centre, Southampton SO14 7LT; email: [email address]

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF; Tel: 0303 123 1113, Fax: 01625 524510; email:
[1][email address]

Yours sincerely,

Vikas Gupta

Information Compliance Officer

Southampton City Council

This email is confidential but may have to be disclosed under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004. if you are not the person or organisation it
was meant for, apologies, please ignore it, delete it and notify us. SCC
does not make legally binding agreements or accept formal
notices/proceedings by email. E-mails may be monitored. This e-mail (and
its attachments) is intended only for the use of the person(s) to whom it
is addressed and may contain information which is privileged and/or
confidential. If it has come to you in error you must take no action
based on it, nor must you copy or show it to anyone"

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Requests,

Many thanks for your response. I disagree that compromise agreements are not used outside ET proceedings. They have been used in their thousands by local authorities, before tribunal proceedings are initiated - IN ORDER TO AVOID THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNALS and in order to compromise any case that the employee may bring BEFORE tribunal proceedings are initiated - a reason often put forward is to 'save public funds'.

But regardless of this, the 'voluntary severance' I am referring to is not the 'voluntary severance' that you are referring to.

Please include YOUR 'voluntary severance' compromise agreements, as defined and re-advise.

Also, please answer the second question in the original request i.e. Does the council now, or has it ever restricted an employee's statutory rights, as part of a compromise agreement, to approach public bodies in the future with FOI / DPA requests?

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI Requests, Southampton City Council

Mr Cardin

You have misread my e-mail. SCC only uses Compromise Agreements OUTSIDE
ET Proceedings. Within ET proceedings we would settle by way of COT3.

Therefore, compromise agreements are only ever entered into voluntarily by
both parties reaching agreement. A voluntary severance would be any
resignation or any compromise agreement. Perhaps it would assist if you
were to give me your understanding of the term "voluntary severance".

The Council has not restricted any employee's statutory rights, as part of
a compromise agreement, to approach the Council in the future with FOI /
DPA requests.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to: Corporate Complaints Officer,
Corporate Policy and Performance Division, Southampton City Council, Civic
Centre, Southampton SO14 7LT; email: [email address]

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF; Tel: 0303 123 1113, Fax: 01625 524510; email:
[1][email address]

Yours Sincerely

Vikas

Vikas Gupta

Information Compliance Officer

Southampton City Council

023 8083 2676 (Phone)

023 8083 2308 (Fax)

This email is confidential but may have to be disclosed under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004. if you are not the person or organisation it
was meant for, apologies, please ignore it, delete it and notify us. SCC
does not make legally binding agreements or accept formal
notices/proceedings by email. E-mails may be monitored. This e-mail (and
its attachments) is intended only for the use of the person(s) to whom it
is addressed and may contain information which is privileged and/or
confidential. If it has come to you in error you must take no action
based on it, nor must you copy or show it to anyone"

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Requests,

I believe you have misunderstood me. I think the best way to proceed from here is to see what we agree on and start again.

Your statements are in lower case below:
MY RESPONSES ARE IN UPPER CASE BELOW:

"COT3's are the method of compromising ET proceedings and a compromise agreement should not be used in those circumstances."

I AGREE.

"This means that compromise agreement would only ever be used in a situation where proceedings have been brought."

YOU ARE CONTRADICTING YOURSELF, AND I DISAGREE.

"Therefore every compromise agreement that SCC enters into is a voluntary severance and in those circumstances the answer to your revised enquiry is none."

I DON'T WANT TO WASTE PUBLIC FUNDS BY ENGAGING IN SPLITTING HAIRS. FOR THE PURPOSES OF PUBLIC SERVICE, AND TO COME INTO LINE WITH THE 229 ENGLISH COUNCILS WHO HAVE RESPONDED POSITIVELY AND IN FULL, PLEASE FORGET THE TERM 'VOLUNTARY SEVERANCE'.

"You have misread my e-mail. SCC only uses Compromise Agreements OUTSIDE ET Proceedings. Within ET proceedings we would settle by way of COT3."

THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG. YOU HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD. SORRY IF MY USE OF A DOUBLE NEGATIVE AT ONE POINT THREW YOU.

To assist you, I am referring to compromise agreements that have been drawn up and agreed primarily in order to prevent the employer from being taken to the Employment Tribunal - these will be classed as 'full and final settlements'.

These are the type of compromise agreements that I am particularly targetting and I would not want their number to be either intentionally or accidentally excluded.

If you find this request a bit too demanding, with the public interest at heart, please ask a senior colleague to assist you,

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Southampton City Council,

Thanks for your responses to date. Is there any more news on this please?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

FOI Requests, Southampton City Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email of 2 March 2011 enquiring about the information
on Compromise Agreements. I have been advised that

Compromise agreement is to prevent an employer being taken to an ET
otherwise we could just reach an agreement. So all of our compromise
agreements are entered into to avoid being taken to an ET and I believe we
have already given details of all our compromise agreements.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to: Corporate Complaints Officer,
Corporate Policy and Performance Division, Southampton City Council, Civic
Centre, Southampton SO14 7LT; email: [email address]

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF; Tel: 0303 123 1113, Fax: 01625 524510; email:
[1][email address]

Vikas

Vikas Gupta

Information Compliance Officer

Southampton City Council

This email is confidential but may have to be disclosed under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004. if you are not the person or organisation it
was meant for, apologies, please ignore it, delete it and notify us. SCC
does not make legally binding agreements or accept formal
notices/proceedings by email. E-mails may be monitored. This e-mail (and
its attachments) is intended only for the use of the person(s) to whom it
is addressed and may contain information which is privileged and/or
confidential. If it has come to you in error you must take no action
based on it, nor must you copy or show it to anyone"

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Requests,

Thanks for your response. Increasingly, local authorities are using compromise agreements in the area of redundancy, PILON, TUPE, equal pay claims.

Can you confirm that the figures you kindly provided on 4th February do not include these areas?

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI Requests, Southampton City Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email of 4 March 2011.

I confirm that the figures we provided do not include the areas you listed
in your email of 4 March.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely

Vikas

Vikas Gupta

Information Compliance Officer

Southampton City Council

This email is confidential but may have to be disclosed under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 or the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004. if you are not the person or organisation it
was meant for, apologies, please ignore it, delete it and notify us. SCC
does not make legally binding agreements or accept formal
notices/proceedings by email. E-mails may be monitored. This e-mail (and
its attachments) is intended only for the use of the person(s) to whom it
is addressed and may contain information which is privileged and/or
confidential. If it has come to you in error you must take no action
based on it, nor must you copy or show it to anyone"

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Southampton City Council were one of the slowest respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 45 working days (over twice 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