Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Torridge 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 Torridge 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

Dear Torridge District Council,

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 faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Jon Walter, Torridge District Council

Paul

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request and further clarifying
email.

The response from Torridge District Council is as follows:

2006 - 1

2007 - 3

2008 - 0

2009 - 0

2010 - 1

I am informed that due to a change in software we do not have details for
2005.

If you have any complaints in respect of your information request, please
write to the Freedom of Information Officer at Torridge District Council,
Riverbank House, Bideford EX39 2QG. If your complaint is not resolved to
your complete satisfaction, you have the right to apply to the Information
Commissioner for a decision.

Regards

Jon

Jon Walter

Corporate Support Officer

Torridge District Council

01237 428789

Torridge - a great place to live, work & visit -
www.torridge.gov.uk

Think before you print, do you really need to?

show quoted sections

Dear Jon Walter,

Thank you for your response and for the information provided.

Please can you address the second part of the original query i.e. Does the council use 'gagging clauses' intended to prevent ex-employees making future approaches under FOI / DPA when drawing up compromise agreements?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Jon Walter, Torridge District Council

Paul

Thank you for your email.

Apologies I thought your second email superseded the first.

The response from Torridge District Council is:

No we do not use those type of clauses.

If you have any complaints in respect of your information request, please

write to the Freedom of Information Officer at Torridge District Council,

Riverbank House, Bideford EX39 2QG. If your complaint is not resolved to

your complete satisfaction, you have the right to apply to the Information

Commissioner for a decision.

Regards

Jon

Jon Walter

Corporate Support Officer

Torridge District Council

01237 428789

Torridge - a great place to live, work & visit -
www.torridge.gov.uk

Think before you print, do you really need to?

show quoted sections

Dear Jon Walter,

Thanks for your time and assistance with this request,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Torridge District Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 21 working days (just 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