Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to West Sussex County 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 partially successful.

Dear West Sussex County 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

West Sussex County Council

Dear Mr Cardin
Thank you for your request for information which I have forwarded to the
appropriate officers for reply.
Yours sincerely
Richard Childs
County Archivist

Paul Cardin To FOI requests at West
<[FOI #57373 email]> Sussex County Council
<[West Sussex County Council request email]>
09/01/2011 23:15 cc
Subject Freedom of Information
request - Total Annual
Figures for Compromise
Agreements, etc.

Dear West Sussex County 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

show quoted sections

West Sussex County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Our Reference: BSD FOI 766

I am writing to confirm that West Sussex County Council has now completed
its search for the information which you requested on 9th January 2011.

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).

West Sussex County Council does not record the specific reasons on which
compromise agreement was reached. Therefore the figures provided to below
you contain the total number of compromise agreements reached, and will
include reasons outside of the ones stated above.

+--------------------------------------------------------------+
| Year | No. Reached for Schools | No. Reached for Non Schools |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 1999 | 4 | 0 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2000 | 9 | 0 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2001 | 17 | 1 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2002 | 7 | 0 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2003 | 3 | 1 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2004 | 6 | 3 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2005 | 3 | 8 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2006 | 3 | 3 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2007 | 7 | 2 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2008 | 1 | 4 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2009 | 9 | 7 |
|------+-------------------------+-----------------------------|
| 2010 | 2 | 6 |
+--------------------------------------------------------------+

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.

The current West Sussex County Council compromise agreement template does
not include this as a standard condition.

Therefore the only way to ascertain if any individual agreements included
this clause would be to conduct a manual search of each individual file,
where it is still held. We estimate that the cost of complying with your
request would exceed the appropriate limit of *450. The appropriate limit
has been specified in regulations and for local authorities it is set at
*450. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 2* working
days in determining whether the Department holds the information, and
locating, retrieving and extracting the information. Under Section 12 of
the Freedom of Information Act the Department is not obliged to comply
with this part of your request.

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your
own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for
the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial
publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder. Most
documents supplied by us will be copyright of West Sussex County Council.

Information you receive which is not subject to WSCC copyright continues
to be protected by the copyright of the person, or organisation, from
which the information originated. You must ensure that you gain their
permission before reproducing any third party (non WSCC) information.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you may
wish to ask for a review of our decision under our complaints procedure.
Please contact Mark Warner, Head of Human Resourcesor the complaints
section via our website.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our complaints
procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

BSD Information Liaison Officers
--
This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and intended solely for
the persons addressed. If it has come to you in error please reply to
advise us but you should not read it, copy it, show it to anyone else nor
make any other use of its content. West Sussex County Council takes
steps to ensure e-mails and attachments are virus-free but you should
carry out your own checks before opening any attachment.

Dear West Sussex County Council,

Many thanks for your response.

The purpose of my request is to research and quantify this data in order to make comparisons, observe trends and make forecasts for the future.

It would be very helpful if you could narrow the field somewhat by excluding agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

1. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
2. TUPE situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. Purely redundancy situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have been initiated)

Please could you put in a call to the legal department to verify the nature of each one of the limited total of compromise agreements that you have reached? I would imagine that this information would be kept here and the task would not be too arduous.

Could you also put in a call to the Accounts department? It is highly likely that a payment will have been made to secure the co-operation of ex-employees with gagging clauses, etc. This payment will be held under a heading which will identify the reason for making it.

I am attempting to make the task easier for you and would not want to resort to an internal review immediately without exploring other potential options.

With regard to the second part of my query, I have had over 70 full and positive responses to this question. It has not posed a problem for these councils. I imagine they will have sought advice (with a phone call to the legal department) to confirm whether it is policy to include such a clause. I would presume that a competent and qualified solicitor would know the answer immediately.

many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

West Sussex County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Reference: BSD FOI 766

Thank you for your further request seeking further clarification of
information received on 21st January. We are looking into this and will
respond in due course.

Yours sincerely

BSD Information Liaison Officers

Paul Cardin To [email address]
<[FOI #57373 email]> cc
Subject Re: FOI Response - BSD FOI 766
21/01/2011 20:38

Dear West Sussex County Council,

Many thanks for your response.

The purpose of my request is to research and quantify this data in
order to make comparisons, observe trends and make forecasts for
the future.

It would be very helpful if you could narrow the field somewhat by
excluding agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

1. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
2. TUPE situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. Purely redundancy situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have
been initiated)

Please could you put in a call to the legal department to verify
the nature of each one of the limited total of compromise
agreements that you have reached? I would imagine that this
information would be kept here and the task would not be too
arduous.

Could you also put in a call to the Accounts department? It is
highly likely that a payment will have been made to secure the
co-operation of ex-employees with gagging clauses, etc. This
payment will be held under a heading which will identify the reason
for making it.

I am attempting to make the task easier for you and would not want
to resort to an internal review immediately without exploring other
potential options.

With regard to the second part of my query, I have had over 70 full
and positive responses to this question. It has not posed a problem
for these councils. I imagine they will have sought advice (with a
phone call to the legal department) to confirm whether it is policy
to include such a clause. I would presume that a competent and
qualified solicitor would know the answer immediately.

many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin
--
This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and intended solely for
the persons addressed. If it has come to you in error please reply to
advise us but you should not read it, copy it, show it to anyone else nor
make any other use of its content. West Sussex County Council takes
steps to ensure e-mails and attachments are virus-free but you should
carry out your own checks before opening any attachment.

West Sussex County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Our Reference: BSD FOI 766

We have reviewed your request for additional information in relation to
our response of 21st January 2011 to your Freedom of Information Request.

As previously outlined to you the County Council does not record in
electronic format the specific reasons in which the circumstances of the
compromise agreements were reached in any of our systems
(HR/Legal/Payroll). All that is recorded is that a compromise agreement
was reached.

The only way to provide the information you have requested is to conduct a
manual search of each individual file, (where they are still held) to
ascertain the reason for having a compromise agreement. We estimate that
the cost of complying with your request would exceed the appropriate limit
of *450. The appropriate limit has been specified in regulations and for
local authorities it is set at *450. This represents the estimated cost of
one person spending 2* working days in determining whether the Department
holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the
information. Under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act the
Department is not obliged to comply with this part of your request

As previously explained, the County Council's standard compromise
agreement does not contain a `gagging clause' and if one had been
specified in an agreement it would not have been `flagged' in anyway as
varying from the standard. Therefore as previously stated, a manual search
of each individual file and review of the specific agreement wording would
be required. We estimate that the cost of complying with your request
would exceed the appropriate limit of *450. The appropriate limit has been
specified in regulations and for local authorities it is set at *450. This
represents the estimated cost of one person spending 2* working days in
determining whether the Department holds the information, and locating,
retrieving and extracting the information. Under Section 12 of the Freedom
of Information Act the Department is not obliged to comply with this part
of your request

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your
own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for
the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial
publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder. Most
documents supplied by us will be copyright of West Sussex County Council.

Information you receive which is not subject to WSCC copyright continues
to be protected by the copyright of the person, or organisation, from
which the information originated. You must ensure that you gain their
permission before reproducing any third party (non WSCC) information.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you may
wish to ask for a review of our decision under our complaints procedure.
Please contact Mark Warner, Head of Human Resourcesor the complaints
section via our website.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our complaints
procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

BSD Information Liaison Officers
--
This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and intended solely for
the persons addressed. If it has come to you in error please reply to
advise us but you should not read it, copy it, show it to anyone else nor
make any other use of its content. West Sussex County Council takes
steps to ensure e-mails and attachments are virus-free but you should
carry out your own checks before opening any attachment.

Dear West Sussex County Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of West Sussex County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.'.

Using all the extra information I provided in good faith, and the narrowed scope of the query, done to assist you, please conduct an internal review.

Your council appears to be out of step with 135 other councils to date, who have found no problem with providing full and detailed information to the public.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/to...

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

West Sussex County Council

Dear Mr Cardin
I acknowledge receipt of your request for an internal review of our
handling of your FOI request.
Yours sincerely
Richard Childs
County Archivist

Paul Cardin To FOI requests at West
<[FOI #57373 email]> Sussex County Council
<[West Sussex County Council request email]>
31/01/2011 18:25 cc
Subject Internal review of
Freedom of Information
request - Total Annual
Figures for Compromise
Agreements, etc.

Dear West Sussex County Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of
Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of West Sussex County
Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual Figures for
Compromise Agreements, etc.'.

Using all the extra information I provided in good faith, and the
narrowed scope of the query, done to assist you, please conduct an
internal review.

Your council appears to be out of step with 135 other councils to
date, who have found no problem with providing full and detailed
information to the public.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is
available on the Internet at this address:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/to...

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

West Sussex County Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Ref: BSD FOI 792 - Request for Review of BSD FOI 766

I am in receipt of your email dated 31^st January 2011 in which you
express your dissatisfaction over the way your freedom of information
request has been dealt with and requested an internal review.

I have now conducted that review, and having discussed the matter with the
officers involved I am satisfied that the information they provided to you
on 21^st January 2011 and 31^st January 2011 is accurate.

I confirm that the County Council does not record in electronic format the
specific reasons in which the circumstances of the compromise agreements
were reached in any of our systems (HR/Legal/Payroll). All that is
recorded is that a compromise agreement was reached.

The only way to provide the information you have requested is to conduct a
manual search of each individual file, (where they are still held) to
ascertain the reason for having a compromise agreement.

To confirm the County Council's standard compromise agreement does not
contain a `gagging clause' and if one had been specified in an agreement
it would not have been `flagged' in anyway as varying from the standard.
Therefore as previously stated, a manual search of each individual file
and review of the specific agreement wording would be required.

In both cases we estimate that the cost of complying with your request
would exceed the appropriate limit of *450. The appropriate limit has been
specified in regulations and for local authorities it is set at *450. This
represents the estimated cost of one person spending 2* working days in
determining whether the Department holds the information, and locating,
retrieving and extracting the information. Under Section 12 of the Freedom
of Information Act the Department is not obliged to comply with this part
of your request.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our complaints
procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire
SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Mark Warner
Head of Human Resources
--
This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and intended solely for
the persons addressed. If it has come to you in error please reply to
advise us but you should not read it, copy it, show it to anyone else nor
make any other use of its content. West Sussex County Council takes
steps to ensure e-mails and attachments are virus-free but you should
carry out your own checks before opening any attachment.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

West Sussex County Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying the information.

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 less controversial areas of redundancy, severance or equal pay claims. Some councils have yet to answer this query - and to date, 65 working days have elapsed.