Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Bristol 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 Bristol City Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

Since the inception of Bristol City Council, or as far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees of Bristol City 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 Bristol City 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

Dear Bristol City Council,

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 faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, Bristol City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request in relation to
compromise agreements. We apologise for the delay in responding to you.
Please find the response to your request below.

The total annual figures for compromise agreements are as follows:
2006/07 = 3
2007/08 = 30
2008/09 = 62
2009/10 = 65

Please note that we can only provide details on all types of agreements as
we are unable to distinguish compromise agreements by reason using our
systems.

Unfortunately we are unable to report upon the above figures for the
financial year 2005/06. Providing this information would mean that we
would exceed the 18 hour appropriate limit as defined under section 12 of
the FOIA act. This data would only be available on an archived paper
payroll record and it would take an inordinate amount of time to gather
the data which would be in excess of 18 hours of an officer time.

This response should answer your request in full, however if you are not
satisfied with this response or wish to lodge an appeal against any
exemptions that may have been applied, you can do so by writing to the
Data Protection Officer at Bristol City Council Legal Services, The
Council House, College Green, Bristol, or [1][Bristol City Council request email]. Details
of the complaints procedure can be found at
[2]http://www.bristol.gov.uk/complaints.

If, after you have exhausted the council’s complaints procedure, you are
still not satisfied with the response you have received you have the right
to complain to the Information Commissioner, details of your right to
complain can be found at [3]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx

Copyright notice
The provision of information by Bristol City Council under this scheme
does not imply a right to reproduce or commercially exploit such
information without the Council's express prior written permission.
Reproduction or commercial exploitation of materials supplied under this
scheme without the express permission of Bristol City Council may be an
infringement of copyright.
The Council is unable to grant permission to reproduce or re-use any
material accessed through this scheme that is the property of third
parties. Permission to reproduce or re-use such material must be obtained
from the copyright holders.

Yours Sincerely,
For Head of Legal services
Stephen McNamara

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Bristol City Council,

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 faithfully,

Paul Cardin

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Dear Bristol City Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

Since the inception of Bristol City Council, or as far as records
go back, the annual figures for the total number of current
employees / ex-employees of Bristol City 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 Bristol City 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

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[6]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offic...

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[7][FOI #56366 email]

Is [8][Bristol City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
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References

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5. mailto:[FOI #56366 email]
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8. mailto:[Bristol City Council request email]
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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate your position
however this query is identical to one which has been sent to ALL
English councils. To date, since January 1st 2011, I received 211
(two hundred and eleven) full and detailed positive responses.
These councils did not have any difficulty in responding to my request.

I am currently involved in research in this area, with the aim of viewing trends and movements nationally. When your response didn’t arrive within the first 20 working days, I reduced the scope, in good faith and in order to make the task more manageable. I'm not sure whether you picked up and acted upon this message.

I asked if you could exclude COT3 agreements, also compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations
5. Purely voluntary severance situations

I also assisted you further, by narrowing the time period down to between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 211 councils did not find any difficulty, I imagine that they may be taking a different approach to locating the information.

Can I suggest that you query your Accounts Department? I ask this
because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing,
they are offered a financial incentive to end their working
contracts. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments. As they should be keeping
an adequate data storage / retrieval system, it will not be too
arduous a task for them to provide Annual total figures for
compromise agreements drawn up in these circumstances.

You could also put in a call to your Legal Department who may keep
a similar searchable database.

I hope the above information assists you. I don't believe that the
possession of an inadequate or cumbersome data storage / retrieval system warrants the use of an exclusion under the FOI Act.

I’m wary of using public money wisely and don’t want to resort to an internal review too quickly. So I would ask you to reconsider the request in light of all the above.

I look forward to receiving your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Bristol City Council,

I forgot to mention that I would like you to also respond to the second question within the original request - sent at the start of January i.e. Does the council, or has it ever in the past, aimed to restrict the employee's statutory rights, as part of a compromise agreement, around making FOI / DPA requests in the future?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Bristol City Council,

Please can you provide some reassurance that you are actually still looking into this query?

It's just that time is passing by and I've heard nothing much since my last message sent on 11th February.

You have a duty to inform and I'd like to see this exercised if you don't mind, as we're now into March.

Many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, Bristol City Council

Thank you for your request for information. You should expect to receive a response within the 20 working day limit.

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Freedom of Information, Bristol City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,
Thank you for your two follow up messages dated 11 February.

We have again researched your request with the department that holds this
information. This department has again confirmed that to complete the
whole FOI request would take far in excess of the 18 hour time limit
(Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act applies). This is because
the 2005/06 data is recorded differently to more recent data and we would
have to look at over 5000 employee records to identify whether additional
payments were compromise agreements or not.

However, having reviewed our estimate for distinguishing the compromise
agreements entered from 2006/7, we estimate that this would take
approximately 13 hours to locate and provide this information. Please
confirm whether or not you wish to refine your request and receive a reply
for the periods identified.

Yours sincerely
For Head of Legal Services
Stephen McNamara

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

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http://www.bristol.gov.uk/services

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thanks for your response. When you state 'from 2006/7' do you mean "from 2006/2007 ONWARDS"?

i.e. are you saying that it would take you 13 hours to provide the reduced scope information that was asked for for the years 2006/7/8/9/10 ? If this IS the case, please go ahead.

Thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Bristol City Council,

Please respond to the message I sent on 9th March, which read as follows:

"
Thanks for your response. When you state 'from 2006/7' do you mean
"from 2006/2007 ONWARDS"?

i.e. are you saying that it would take you 13 hours to provide the
reduced scope information that was asked for for the years
2006/7/8/9/10 ? If this IS the case, please go ahead.

Thanks in advance",

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

STS Freedom of Information STS Freedom of Information, Bristol City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

I attach a .pdf file that provides data relating to your reduced scope
enquiry.

This response should answer your request in full, however if you are
not satisfied with this response or wish to lodge an appeal against any
exemptions that may have been applied, you can do so by writing to the
Data Protection Officer at Bristol City Council Legal Services, The
Council House, College Green, Bristol, or [Bristol City Council request email]. Details
of the complaints procedure can be found at
http://www.bristol.gov.uk/complaints.

If, after you have exhausted the council’s complaints procedure, you
are still not satisfied with the response you have received you have the
right to complain to the Information Commissioner, details of your right
to complain can be found at http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx

Copyright notice
The provision of information by Bristol City Council under this scheme
does not imply a right to reproduce or commercially exploit such
information without the Council's express prior written permission.
Reproduction or commercial exploitation of materials supplied under
this scheme without the express permission of Bristol City Council may
be an infringement of copyright.
The Council is unable to grant permission to reproduce or re-use any
material accessed through this scheme that is the property of third
parties. Permission to reproduce or re-use such material must be
obtained from the copyright holders.

Regards,

Mike Barnes
STS Business Support Manager
Bristol City Council
Parkview Office Campus
0117 35 21400

show quoted sections

Dear STS Freedom of Information STS Freedom of Information,

Thanks for the response, however you haven't addressed the second part of the original request, despite the reminder I sent not long back i.e.

"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 Bristol City 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."

thanks again,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

STS Freedom of Information STS Freedom of Information, Bristol City Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

The annual figures are zero in relation to this inquiry.

Regards,

Mike Barnes
STS Business Support Manager
Bristol City Council
Parkview Office Campus
0117 35 21400

show quoted sections

9:31 PM >>>
Dear STS Freedom of Information STS Freedom of Information,

Thanks for the response, however you haven't addressed the second
part of the original request, despite the reminder I sent not long
back i.e.

"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 Bristol City 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."

thanks again,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Bristol City Council were one of the slowest respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 57 working days (well over twice 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