Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to St Helens 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 St. Helens 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 - 1; 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

St Helens Council, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Ref: STHCC161585

Thank you for contacting St Helens Council. Your FOI request has been
forwarded to the appropriate department requesting that you receive a reply
within twenty working days. If you wish to contact us again, by e-mail or
telephone, please quote the Contact Centre reference number: STHCC161585

BODY OF ORIGINAL EMAIL:

Dear St. Helens 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 - 1; 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

show quoted sections

St Helens Council, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for contacting St.Helens Council. Your email has been given the
reference STHCC161585

The Council is unable to provide figures as far as records go back, as you
have requested. The Council regards the request as unreasonable due to the
time and costs involved in compiling this information in respect of Council
and school staff. Furthermore, the Council's costs of responding to your
request is likely to exceed the threshold set out in the Fees Regulations
which would trigger the charging provisions. This is in accordance with
the Council's FOI Policy.

I have compiled the information for the last 3 years as a reasonable period
and can provide the following figures:

2010 - 3
2009-5
2008-1

In relation to your second query, the answer is none.

Regards

Tracey Barker
Pr HR Officer

BODY OF ORIGINAL EMAIL:

Dear St. Helens 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 - 1; 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

show quoted sections

Dear St Helens Council,

Thanks very much for your response and for the limited totals provided. I appreciate your position however this query is identical to one which has been sent to ALL English councils. So far, I have had 179 (one hundred and seventy nine) full and detailed positive responses. These councils did not have any difficulty in responding to what they obviously regarded as a REASONABLE request.

I am currently involved in research in this area and in order to
make the task more accurate and somewhat more manageable for yourselves, can I make the following
changes?

Please can you exclude 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)

Also, to assist you further, I will narrow the time period down to
between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 179 councils have not found any difficulty, I
imagine that they may be taking a different approach to locating the information.

Can I suggest that you query your Accounts Department? I ask this
because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing,
they are offered a financial incentive to end their working
contracts. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments. As they should be keeping
an adequate data storage / retrieval system, it will not be too
arduous a task for them to provide Annual total figures for
compromise agreements drawn up in these circumstances.

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. I don't believe that the
possession of an inadequate data storage / retrieval system
warrants the use of an exclusion under the FOI Act and look forward
to your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

St Helens Council, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Ref: STHCC163637

Thank you for contacting St Helens Council. Your request is being
processed. If you need to contact us again either by e-mail or telephone
01744 676789 please quote the Contact Centre reference number: STHCC163637

BODY OF ORIGINAL EMAIL:

Dear St Helens Council,

Thanks very much for your response and for the limited totals
provided. I appreciate your position however this query is
identical to one which has been sent to ALL English councils. So
far, I have had 179 (one hundred and seventy nine) full and
detailed positive responses. These councils did not have any
difficulty in responding to what they obviously regarded as a
REASONABLE request.

I am currently involved in research in this area and in order to
make the task more accurate and somewhat more manageable for
yourselves, can I make the following
changes?

Please can you exclude 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)

Also, to assist you further, I will narrow the time period down to
between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 179 councils have not found any difficulty, I
imagine that they may be taking a different approach to locating
the information.

Can I suggest that you query your Accounts Department? I ask this
because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing,
they are offered a financial incentive to end their working
contracts. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments. As they should be keeping
an adequate data storage / retrieval system, it will not be too
arduous a task for them to provide Annual total figures for
compromise agreements drawn up in these circumstances.

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. I don't believe that the
possession of an inadequate data storage / retrieval system
warrants the use of an exclusion under the FOI Act and look forward
to your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

St Helens Council, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for contacting St.Helens Council. Your email has been given the
reference STHCC163637

Thank you for your reply. I apologise for not responding before now but
have been on leave. Having already asked our Legal Department for the
information I have asked our Finance Department if they can assist and will
come back to you asap.

Regards

Tracey Barker
Pr HR Officer

BODY OF ORIGINAL EMAIL:

Dear St Helens Council,

Thanks very much for your response and for the limited totals
provided. I appreciate your position however this query is
identical to one which has been sent to ALL English councils. So
far, I have had 179 (one hundred and seventy nine) full and
detailed positive responses. These councils did not have any
difficulty in responding to what they obviously regarded as a
REASONABLE request.

I am currently involved in research in this area and in order to
make the task more accurate and somewhat more manageable for
yourselves, can I make the following
changes?

Please can you exclude 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)

Also, to assist you further, I will narrow the time period down to
between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 179 councils have not found any difficulty, I
imagine that they may be taking a different approach to locating
the information.

Can I suggest that you query your Accounts Department? I ask this
because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing,
they are offered a financial incentive to end their working
contracts. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments. As they should be keeping
an adequate data storage / retrieval system, it will not be too
arduous a task for them to provide Annual total figures for
compromise agreements drawn up in these circumstances.

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. I don't believe that the
possession of an inadequate data storage / retrieval system
warrants the use of an exclusion under the FOI Act and look forward
to your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

Dear St Helens Council,

It's now 3 weeks since you promised to act upon this request.

Please provide some reassurance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

St Helens Council, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Ref: STHCC166602

Thank you for contacting St Helens Council. Your e-mail has been forwarded
to the appropriate department.

BODY OF ORIGINAL EMAIL:

Dear St Helens Council,

It's now 3 weeks since you promised to act upon this request.

Please provide some reassurance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

St Helens Council, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for contacting St.Helens Council. Your email has been given the
reference STHCC166602

I can provide reassurance that I have consulted my colleagues in payroll
and finance and am awaiting a response which I will chase for you. As I am
sure you will appreciate this is a very busy time as the Council's priority
as present is trying to limit job losses and deal fairly and sensitively
with employees who are to be made compulsory redundant on 31.3.11. I have
provided the information for you that is readily available and will supply
the other info requested if it is available and as soon as I can.

Regards

Tracey Barker
Pr Human Respurces Officer

BODY OF ORIGINAL EMAIL:

Dear St Helens Council,

It's now 3 weeks since you promised to act upon this request.

Please provide some reassurance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

St Helens Council, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for contacting St.Helens Council. Your email has been given the
reference STHCC166602

Further to our correspondence I can provide the following information:-

2005 - 0

2006 - 5

2007 - 11

I trust this complies with your request but if you require further
information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards

Tracey Barker
Pr Human Resources Officer

BODY OF ORIGINAL EMAIL:

Dear St Helens Council,

It's now 3 weeks since you promised to act upon this request.

Please provide some reassurance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

St Helens Borough Council were one of the slowest respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 59 working days (almost three times the statutory period) to respond positively and in full. I take onboard and sympathise with the fact that they have been struggling with job losses and the pressures caused by cuts to public services.

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