Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Taunton Deane 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 Taunton Deane Borough 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,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

R Tozer left an annotation ()

Paul, should you not be directing this question to Somerset County Council rather than Taunton Deane council.

FOI-advice, Taunton Deane Borough Council

This will acknowledge receipt of your request under the Freedom of
Information Act to which we will reply more fully within 20 working days
(before 7/2/2011.

FOI ADMINISTRATION DESK
TAUNTON DEANE BOROUGH COUNCIL

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FOI-advice, Taunton Deane Borough Council

This is Taunton Deane Borough Council's response to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

RESPONSE: The Council has not and does not require staff to sign compromise agreements and/or 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.

If you wish to object to our response, you can have your request and our response reviewed by an Officer of the Council by applying for a review to [Taunton Deane Borough Council request email]  or by writing to The Freedom of Information Officer, Taunton Deane Borough Council, The Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton TA1 1HE.

Should you remain dissatisfied after that review, you can appeal against the decision by contacting the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF.

FOI ADMINISTRATION DESK
TAUNTON DEANE BOROUGH COUNCIL
(Email : [Taunton Deane Borough Council request email]

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Dear FOI-advice,

Thanks for your reply. Given that I have made this request of all English Councils and this is the first such response, would you mind if I probed a little further?

Can you explain why you have not and do not require staff to sign compromise agreements?

Is it because you don't envisage such disputes arising in the future?

Or is it because it's not in your hands and another authority deals with such issues?

Or is there another reason?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

FOI-advice, Taunton Deane Borough Council

Thank you Mr Cardin. We will respond to you again in more detail.

FOI ADMINISTRATION DESK
TAUNTON DEANE BOROUGH COUNCIL

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FOI-advice, Taunton Deane Borough Council

Mr Cardin - we will investigate further and come back to you with more detailed response before 17/2/2011.

FOI ADMINISTRATION DESK
TAUNTON DEANE BOROUGH COUNCIL

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FOI-advice, Taunton Deane Borough Council

Mr Cardin

We have gone back to HR and had them review the original response. We would now like to reply as follows, and apologise for any inconvenience that arose from our first response to your request:

RESPONSE: The Council has drawn up 8 compromise agreements with TDBC employees in the year 2010/2011. There is no data available prior to this period.

Please note that our HR service is now delivered as part of a shared service agreement with Somerset County Council and Avon & Somerset Police, details below**......

**
TDBC has joined the South West One partnership, which was formed to help Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and Avon & Somerset Police transform their back-office environments. One of the key aspects of this partnership was the transfer of responsibility for our HR provision to South West One. We therefore no longer have a dedicated HR team.

As you may be aware, South West One is a publicly listed company and is not required to furnish information under the Freedom of Information Act in the same way as organisations within the public sector.

If you would like to find out more information about South West One, please visit their web site http://www.southwestone.org.uk.

If you wish to object to our response, you have the option of having the request and response reviewed by an Officer of the Council by applying for a review to [Taunton Deane Borough Council request email]  or by writing to The Freedom of Information Officer, Taunton Deane Borough Council, The Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton TA1 1HE.

Should you remain dissatisfied after that review, you can appeal against the decision by contacting the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF.

FOI ADMINISTRATION DESK
TAUNTON DEANE BOROUGH COUNCIL
(Email : [Taunton Deane Borough Council request email]

Southwest One (Working in partnership with Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council & Avon and Somerset Police.
South West One Limited - Registered in England and Wales with number 6373780. Registered Office: PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hants. PO6 3AU 

______________________________________________________________________________

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Dave Orr left an annotation ()

HR is administered by SW1 but the agreement remains between TDBC and the employee so remains open to your FOI. TDBC is the Data Controller for the employee data whereas SW1 is the Data Processor.

TDBC cannot simply say that HR admin going to SW1 means no FOI response - SW1 servcice the response BUT the Data Controller remains TDBC so check that on ICO site for the TDBC registration.

Suggest you appeal to ICO if TDBC appeal fails - Can do simply by phone or email & they are very helpful.

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