Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Thanet District 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 Thanet District 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

Michael Gilbertson, Thanet District Council

Ref No:23796 / 1601886

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your communication of 10/01/2011 requesting information relating to the total number of Compromise Agreements entered into by Thanet District Council with employees and ex-employees together with details of the number of those employees who, as part of that agreement, have waived their rights to further approaches to the Council under Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation.

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days.

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Gilbertson
Freedom of Information Assessor

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Sarah Carroll, Thanet District Council

Ref No: 23796 / 1601886

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your communication received on 10/01/2011 where you requested information about compromise agreements, specifcally:

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.

I am writing to advise you that, following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that there is no separate record of this information. However, since 1 November 2006 I was responsible for coordinating such agreements and I can confirm that there have been 6. In no circumstances were indiviudals asked to forgo their right to apporach the council in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subjec Access requests under the relevant Acts.

Should you need to contact me further, please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Carroll
Corporate Resources Manager

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Dear Sarah Carroll,

Thanks for your response and the information therein.

Please could you break down the six compromise agreements into annual total figures, as requested?
e.g. 2006 - 1; 2007 - 2; 2008 - 1; etc.

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Sarah Carroll, Thanet District Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I am currently collating the information, broken down by years and will
respond as soon as the information is available.

Best wishes

Sarah Carroll

Sarah Carroll
Corporate Resources Manager
Thanet District Council
01843 577188

>>> Paul Cardin <[FOI #57306 email]> 26/01/2011
21:26 >>>
Dear Sarah Carroll,

Thanks for your response and the information therein.

Please could you break down the six compromise agreements into
annual total figures, as requested?
e.g. 2006 - 1; 2007 - 2; 2008 - 1; etc.

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

Sarah Carroll, Thanet District Council

Ref No: 23796 / 1601886

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your communication received on 10/01/2011 where you requested information about compromise agreements.

I have now provided the full detail as requested, which is as follows:

2006 - 1
2007 - 0
2008 - 3
2009 - 2

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: Information Request Assessor, Thanet District Council, P O Box 9 Cecil Street, Margate Kent CT9 1XZ, or send an email to [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

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Carroll
Corporate Resources Manager

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Dear Sarah Carroll,

Many thanks for your reply,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Thanet District Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 24 working days (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