Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Sunderland 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 Sunderland City Council,

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).

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

Solicitor - Freedom of Information, Sunderland City Council

Dear Paul

I confirm that your request for information has been received and is receiving attention.

The Council aims to provide available information promptly and in any event within 20 working days, unless, exceptionally, there is a need to consider whether the information is exempt from disclosure. Please note that there may be a charge for providing copies of the information. If the cost of complying with your request in full exceeds £450, we will ask you to reconsider your request, or to pay a fee before the information is supplied. If we need to ask you to refine your request or to pay a charge or fee we will let you know. Please quote the reference below if you contact the Council regarding this request.

Yours sincerely,

[email address]

Our reference: Customer number: 117 and RFI number 110119

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Dear Solicitor - Freedom of Information,

By law, I believe the authority should have responded promptly and
by 1st February 2011.

Although I have received no response, to assist, and as an act of good faith, I would like to reduce the scope of the original request as follows:
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.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Danielle Doyle, Sunderland City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Paul,
 
Please find attached the response to your Freedom of Information request.
 
Kind Regards,
 
Danielle Doyle
Business Systems Officer
Business Systems Team
Office of the Chief Executive
Sunderland City Council
Tel: 0191 5617806
Fax: 0191 5531020
Email: [1][email address]
 
 
 
 

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Sunderland is aiming to become the most liveable city in the UK.
Visit www.Sunderland.gov.uk for Council services and information.
Business investors can access www.Investinsunderland.co.uk
Visitors to the City should log onto www.Visitsunderland.com

References

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1. mailto:[email address]

Dear Danielle Doyle,

Many thanks for your response.

Unfortunately you ran over time and in good faith, I placed a modified and substantially reduced request when this occurred.

You don't appear to have taken this into account, and as a result, your figures appear very much 'on the high side'.

Here is the message (sent on 5th February) which reduced the scope of the query:

"Although I have received no response, to assist, and as an act of
good faith, I would like to reduce the scope of the original
request as follows:
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.

I'd be very grateful if, now that you have reached a manageable number, you could omit compromise agreements drawn up in the above quoted circumstances,

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Danielle Doyle, Sunderland City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

I acknowledge receipt of your email below. I have forwarded your email
on to the officers who dealt with your request - I send out requests on
behalf of service areas, I have had no input into the content of the
answer to your request.

I do note however, that your request was due to be responded to by 7th
February 2011, and therefore has been responded to within the timescales
set out in the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Either myself or an officer from Legal Services will contact you again
soon, in the meantime I hope this is helpful.

Kind Regards,

Danielle Doyle

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Danielle Doyle, Sunderland City Council

2 Attachments

  • Attachment

    http cityweb directorates chief executive corporate communications councillogo3kb.jpg

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  • Attachment

    FOI Request Compromise Agreements 5th February 2011 Request.doc

    51K Download View as HTML

Dear Mr Cardin,
 
Please find attached the response to your request for information under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
 
Kind Regards,
 
Danielle Doyle
(Sent on behalf of Lorraine Rankin)
 
Danielle Doyle
Business Systems Officer
Business Systems Team
Office of the Chief Executive
Sunderland City Council
Tel: 0191 5617806
Fax: 0191 5531020
Email: [1][email address]
 
 
 
 

show quoted sections

Sunderland is aiming to become the most liveable city in the UK.
Visit www.Sunderland.gov.uk for Council services and information.
Business investors can access www.Investinsunderland.co.uk
Visitors to the City should log onto www.Visitsunderland.com

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Sunderland City Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 32 working days (12 above 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