Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Watford 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 Watford 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,

Paul Cardin

Jason McKenzie, Watford Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Request for information under Freedom of Information Act

Thank you for your request for information regarding compromise agreements
received on 9 January 2011. I would have sent this reply by post also,
but I do not appear to have an address for you.

Your request for information has now been considered and the information
requested is set out below:

Question 1:

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).

Response 1:

The number of compromise agreements by calendar years is as follows:

2004: 4

2005: 0

2006: 2

2007: 3

2008: 0

2009: 2

2010: 0

2011: 1

Question 2
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.

Response 2
Nil. Our compromise agreements do not ask employees/ex-employees to forgo
their right to information under the Freedom of Information Act or the
Data Protection Act.

I consider that we have fully responded to your request. However, if you
are unhappy with the response to your request, you may ask for an internal
review through the councils formal complaints policy. This policy is
available on the council's website [1]www.watford.gov.uk/complaints or by
contacting the Customer Service Centre on 01923 226400 or by e-mailing
[2][Watford Borough Council request email]

Yours sincerely

Jason McKenzie

Legal and Democratic Services Section Head

Watford Council Legal and Property Services

Tel : 01923 278360

Fax : 01923 278366

Email : [email address]

DISCLAIMER:

show quoted sections

References

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1. http://www.watford.gov.uk/complaints
2. mailto:[Watford Borough Council request email]

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Watford Borough Council were one of the quicker respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 17 days 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