Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Stockton on Tees 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 Stockton on Tees 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

Bourner, John, Stockton on Tees Council

Dear Paul,

I acknowledge receipt of your request for information below and will endeavour to provide you with a full response within 20 working days, as required under the Freedom of Information Act.

Kind regards,
John Bourner

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Bourner, John, Stockton on Tees Council

Dear Paul Cardin,

I refer to your further request for information, which I received on 7 January 2011 regarding Compromise Agreements. I have responded to your questions as follows:

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), are as follows:

1 (2004/05)
3 (2005/06)
12 (2006/07)
23 (2007/08)
15 (2008/09)
15 (2009/10)

There have not been any 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 find attached details of licensed properties with historic credit within the borough of Stockton-on-Tees.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact me in the first instance. However, if you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you may make a corporate complaint by completing an online form at http://www.stockton.gov.uk/citizenservic.... A review of your complaint will then be undertaken by a nominated officer.

Once your complaint has been determined, if you are still dissatisfied, you also have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:-

Information Commissioner’s Officer
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700

www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

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Dear John,

Thanks very much for your response.

As your figures appear to be on the high side, please could you confirm that they do not include compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

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

I am hopeful that given you have arrived at these annual totals, it will not be too arduous a task to discard the above areas and re-advise.

My reason for asking is to ensure that the research I am conducting accurately reflects national trends and movements,

Many thanks in advance

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Stockton on Tees Council,

I'd appreciate a response to my email reducing the scope. Many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Bourner, John, Stockton on Tees Council

Dear Paul,

Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your email. I
passed it to a member of staff in our legal team, who has checked the
figures as far as possible. However in many of the earlier cases the
actual payment detail that we have recorded does not specify a breakdown
in the way you have asked for it. Correspondence which might have shed
some light on the figures has, in many cases, been destroyed (in line
with Council policy) and just the agreements themselves have been
retained.

Therefore the figures have been revised as far as possible to:

2004/5 - 1
2005/6 - 3
2006/7 - 10
2007/8 - 19
2008/9 - 9
2009/10 - 11

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact me in the
first instance. However, if you are dissatisfied with the handling
of your request, you may make a corporate complaint by completing
an online form at
http://www.stockton.gov.uk/citizenservic.... A
review of your complaint will then be undertaken by a nominated
officer.

Once your complaint has been determined, if you are still
dissatisfied, you also have the right to appeal to the Information
Commissioner at:-

Information Commissioner's Officer
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700

www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Regards,
John Bourner
Development Officer

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Stockton on Tees Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 32 working days (12 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