Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Bury Metropolitan 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 Bury Borough Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

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

Barker, Rosemary, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Paul

I apologise for the delay in responding to your original FOI request.

I am looking into your request under the Freedom Of Information Act as a
matter of urgency and endeavouring to get this information to you. Thank
you for the clarification.

Rosemary

Rosemary Barker

Principal HR Advisor
Corporate HR
Bury Council
BL9 0SW

0161 253 5205
[email address]

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Barker, Rosemary, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Paul

I just wanted to update you on progress with regard to your FOI. I hope
you received my email last week regarding this.

Our legal department is collating this information as a matter of urgency
and I will forward it to you as soon as I have the information

Please contact me if you have any queries

Regards

Rosemary

Rosemary Barker
Principal HR Advisor
Corporate HR
Bury Council

0161 253 5205
07969 906276
[email address]

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Dear Rosemary,

Many thanks for your update,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Barker, Rosemary, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Paul

Thanks for your reply

In response to your request I can now answer the 2nd part relating to
whether we have asked employees to forego their rights under FOI/DPA as
part of a compromise agreement.

We have never as part of a compromise agreement asked an employee to
forego their rights to information under DPA/FOI.

I will contact you again regarding the first part of your request.

I hope all is going well with your research

Best regards

Rosemary

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Barker, Rosemary, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Paul

I can now update you further on your FOI request. Most of the compromise
agreements we sign in the Council would not be included in your
specification.

However we had 1 in 2006, 1 in 2008, and 5 in 2010 that fall within
your parameters. I am awaiting a response from one of our Departments so
will let you know if there are any further to add. Please let me know if
you have queries regarding this or need any clarification.

Best Regards

Rosemary

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Dear Rosemary,

Thanks very much for your help so far, and for the time you have devoted to this.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Bury 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

Dear Barker, Rosemary,

I was wondering whether you have forgotten about me. Did you hear from the department that never reported?

Please get back to me as soon as possible. This request originally went in in early January,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Barker, Rosemary, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council

Hi Paul

I hope you are well

I am sorry not to have responded sooner. The reason why I have not got
back to you further was that we have no more compromise agreements that
fall within your specification. The outstanding department confirmed
that to me

I wish you every success with your research

Regards

Rosemary

Rosemary Barker
Principal HR Advisor
Corporate HR
Bury Council

0161 253 5205
07969 906276
[email address]

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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