Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Welwyn Hatfield 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 Welwyn Hatfield 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

Ian Colyer, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your request for information received on 10th January 2011.

The Council's policy is to release information unless an exemption can be reasonably applied. The Council will respond within 20 working days by either releasing the information or letting you know why it cannot release the information. If for any reason it is not possible to respond within the 20 days, we will let you know as soon as possible with the date by which we anticipate we are able to respond.

For your information, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 defines a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an assessment of your request and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information may not be released. You will be informed if this is the case, including your rights of appeal against the refusal to disclose the information.

If the information you request concerns a third party then they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to release the information to you. You will be informed if this is the case.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact Ian Colyer, Freedom of Information Officer, Welwyn Hatfield Council, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. AL8 6LA, Tel: 01707 357413, Email: [Welwyn Hatfield District Council request email] .

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane
Wilmslow,
Cheshire,
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Ian Colyer,
Freedom of Information Officer
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

? Please consider the environment before printing this email

Would you like to have a greater say on council services? The council has a borough panel which it regularly consults with. If you are interested in joining the group please visit our website www.welhat.gov.uk/boroughpanel

The information in this email is intended for the named recipients only. It may be subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Unless the information is legally exempt from disclosure, the confidentiality of this email and your reply cannot be guaranteed.

If you are not the intended recipient, you must not copy, distribute, take any action or place reliance on any of the contents. Instead please delete this email from your system and notify the sender immediately.

The full Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council email disclaimer can be viewed at www.welhat.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer.

Dear Ian Colyer,

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

Ian Colyer, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

I am currently out of the office on Monday 31st January 2011returning to work on Wednesday 9th February 2011. If you would like to leave me a message, I will get back to you upon my return to work. If your request is urgent, you can contact ScottPow at [email address] or Roy D'Cunha at r.d'[email address] Thank You Ian Colyer, Principal Auditor & Freedom of Information Officer, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

 Please consider the environment before printing this email

Would you like to have a greater say on council services? The council has a borough panel which it regularly consults with. If you are interested in joining the group please visit our website www.welhat.gov.uk/boroughpanel

The information in this email is intended for the named recipients only. It may be subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Unless the information is legally exempt from disclosure, the confidentiality of this email and your reply cannot be guaranteed.

If you are not the intended recipient, you must not copy, distribute, take any action or place reliance on any of the contents. Instead please delete this email from your system and notify the sender immediately.

The full Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council email disclaimer can be viewed at www.welhat.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer.

Ian Colyer, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your email of 5th February 2011. A response to your request was due by 7th February 2011 and I must apologise that this has not been forthcoming. This has been caused by the redundancy of many of our H.R. section who are responsible for supplying the information to me. I have now been in contact with the Head of Human Resources and he is chasing up a response. I hope to have this with you by the end of this week.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Colyer,
Freedom of Information Officer,
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

? Please consider the environment before printing this email

Would you like to have a greater say on council services? The council has a borough panel which it regularly consults with. If you are interested in joining the group please visit our website www.welhat.gov.uk/boroughpanel

The information in this email is intended for the named recipients only. It may be subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Unless the information is legally exempt from disclosure, the confidentiality of this email and your reply cannot be guaranteed.

If you are not the intended recipient, you must not copy, distribute, take any action or place reliance on any of the contents. Instead please delete this email from your system and notify the sender immediately.

The full Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council email disclaimer can be viewed at www.welhat.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer.

Dear Ian Colyer,

Thank you for your time on this, and for the update,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Ian Colyer, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

Further to my email of Monday of this week I have now received confirmation that Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has no employees, either current or ex-employees, who have signed compromise agreements in the situations outlined in your request. You should note that as a Borough Council we have no responsibility for teaching staff.

I hope this satisfies your request but if you have any queries or concerns then please contact Ian Colyer, Freedom of Information Officer, Welwyn Hatfield Council, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL8 6LA, Telephone: 01707 357413, Email:[Welwyn Hatfield District Council request email] . I attach a copy of the Freedom of Information complaint procedure.

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Ian Colyer
Freedom of Information Officer
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

? Please consider the environment before printing this email

Would you like to have a greater say on council services? The council has a borough panel which it regularly consults with. If you are interested in joining the group please visit our website www.welhat.gov.uk/boroughpanel

The information in this email is intended for the named recipients only. It may be subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Unless the information is legally exempt from disclosure, the confidentiality of this email and your reply cannot be guaranteed.

If you are not the intended recipient, you must not copy, distribute, take any action or place reliance on any of the contents. Instead please delete this email from your system and notify the sender immediately.

The full Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council email disclaimer can be viewed at www.welhat.gov.uk/emaildisclaimer.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Welwyn Hatfield District Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 30 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