Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Wellingborough 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 Wellingborough 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

info, Wellingborough Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email of 10 January 2011 requesting information
about Compromise Agreements

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days,
please expect a response no later than the 4 February 2011.

Requests having the potential to involve more than 18 hours work could
be subject to a charge. If we are not able to complete the response
within 18 hours we will contact you with the calculated charge asking
how you would like us to proceed

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact
me.

Regards

Kayleigh Northover
Information Officer

Dear Kayleigh,

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

info, Wellingborough Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

My sincere apologies for the delay in responding to your request, your FOI has been passed onto our HR department but owing to the current restructuring of the council, due to the recent budget cuts, some FOI responses are becoming delayed to due a dramatically increased work load.

Thank you for the clarification stated in your email, I shall pass this on and ask that a response is compiled as soon as possible.

Kind Regards

Kayleigh Northover
Information Officer

Dear info,

Thanks for the information. From over 300 councils approached, your response is quite unique. You are the first council to invoke restructuring and budget cuts as justification for the delay.

Indeed 189 councils have responded positively and in full since January 1st.

However, good luck with the restructure and I hope to hear from you very soon,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

info, Wellingborough Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find attached the response from Borough Council of Wellingborough to your recent FOI request.

I hope this answers your query.

If however you feel that this response does not answer your request satisfactorily, please advise us of this clarifying your reasons and we will re-assess your enquiry - please send to [Wellingborough Borough Council request email]

Once your request has been re-assessed and if you are still not happy with our response, you may wish to complain via the Council's Complaints Procedure. Details of this can be found on our website www.wellingborough.gov.uk.

If, following this, you continue to be dissatisfied with our response, you may appeal directly to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) who will investigate the Council's decision regarding your request. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the Council's Complaints Procedure first. Details of how to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office can be found on the ICO website www.ico.gov.uk.

Kind regards
Kayleigh Northover
Information Officer

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Wellingborough Borough 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