Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Brighton and Hove City 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 Brighton & Hove Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

Since the inception of Brighton & Hove Council, or as far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees of Brighton & Hove 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 who have agreed, following the matter being raised and made conditional as part of a compromise agreement drawn up by the body acting as Brighton & Hove Council's legal team, to 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 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

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

Thank you for your request for information and I confirm we shall
respond as quickly as possible but not later than 31 January 2011.

Wendy Kassamani
Information Compliance Officer
Brighton & Hove City Council
Tel: 01273 296636

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Dear Freedom Of Information,

By law, I believe the authority should have responded promptly and
by 1st February 2011.

Although I have received no response, to assist, I would like to
'sharpen' and 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

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

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

I apologise for the delay in our response and I will pass your email to the department concerned. We will make every effort to forward our response to you with the minimum of delay.

Thank you.

Wendy Kassamani
Information Compliance Officer
Brighton & Hove City Council
Tel: 01273 296636

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Wendy Kassamani, Brighton and Hove City Council

Regarding your request for information under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000: Ref: foi/02/10

"Redundancy Stats"

Please find set out below the information in response to the above
request:

2005 - 5;

2006 - 7;

2007 - 12;

2008 - 23;

2009 - 25;

2010 - 51

Should you have any queries concerning this request please contact me,
remembering to quote the reference number shown above.

If you are not satisfied how your request has been handled, you can
appeal. Please write to:

Freedom of Information Appeals

Brighton & Hove City Council

ICT Room lst Floor

Hove Town Hall

Norton Road

Hove BN3 4AH

[1][email address]

If you are still not satisfied after your complaint has been investigated,
you can escalate your complaint to the Information Commissioners Office.
The contact details are:

The Information Commissioners Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone number: 01625 545745

e-mail: [2][email address]

Website: [3]www.dataprotection.gov.uk

If you have any queries regarding this process, please contact me via the
contact details below.

Wendy Kassamani

Information Compliance Officer

Brighton & Hove City Council

Hove Town Hall

Norton Road

Hove, BN3 4AH

Tel: 01273 296636

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Dear Wendy Kassamani,

Many thanks for your response and for the time you've
devoted to my query.

However, your title "Redundancy Stats" leaves me to wonder whether you actually read the last email I sent. I'd asked if you could EXCLUDE compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances, before re-advising:

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

I am hopeful that, now you have reached a manageable number, it
won't take too much more of your time to exclude the above and
re-advise.

Also, please could you address the second part of my original query i.e. have you attempted to prevent employees leaving under compromise agreements from making future FOI / DPA requests?

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Wendy Kassamani, Brighton and Hove City Council

Please ignore the title I applied - my mistake - I confirm the department have responded to your last email.

Thank you.

Wendy Kassamani
Information Compliance Officer
Brighton & Hove City Council
Tel: 01273 296636

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Dear Wendy Kassamani,

Thanks for the clarification.

Could you kindly respond to the second part of my query i.e. Does the council, through compromise agreements, compel signatory employees to forgo their future FOI / DPA rights to request information?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Wendy Kassamani, Brighton and Hove City Council

The answer to your additional query regarding FOI/DPA requests is 'No'.

Wendy Kassamani
Information Compliance Officer
Brighton & Hove City Council

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Brighton & Hove 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