Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

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

Please supply totals for the following:

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

Tracie Robinson, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

I will be out of the Office until Tuesday 4th January 2011.

If you have an urgent Freedom of Information or Data Protection issue
please contact Jeannine Houshmand on 01422 393044 or email
[1][email address] otherwise I shall take your
request as being recieved upon the date of my return.

If you have an Information Governance issue please contact Dean Thompson
on 01422 393074 or email [2][email address]

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Jeannine Houshmand, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

From: Jeannine Houshmand
Sent: 31 January 2011 15:15
To: 'Request'
Subject: Freedom of Information request

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find attached the Council's response to your recent request for
information under the Freedom of Information Act. I trust this is
satisfactory but if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to
contact me.

Jeannine Houshmand

Access to Information Liaison Officer

Democrat & Partnership Services

The Borough Council of Calderdale

T: 01422 393044

email: [email address]

Please Note: - This email, including any attachments, is confidential and
may be legally privileged. If it is received by mistake, please let me
know and delete from your system - do not read or copy it or disclose its
contents to anyone else.

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Dear Jeannine Houshmand,

Thank you for your detailed response. Whilst I appreciate your comprehensive reply, to set this request into a wider context, I have made a largely identical request of ALL English Councils.

To date, 135 councils have responded in full, stating no reservations about allowing public access to public information.

I am conducting research in this area and like most members of the public, cannot afford to spend thousands of pounds gaining access to information which is held on inadequate data storage / retrieval systems.

In the several years that have elapsed since the FOI Act came into being, one would have hoped that public money would have been invested into making systems responsive to public demands. This appears to have happened in some areas but not in others. A kind of 'postcode lottery' would not have been in anybody's plans, I'm sure.

In a good faith attempt to make the task more manageable, please could you reduce the scope of my request as follows?

Can you limit the scope of the query to between 2005 and 2010 i.e. the last six years?

Also, please exclude any compromise agreements which have been drawn up in the following circumstances?

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

I hope that this assists you,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dean Thompson, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Cardin

Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Request for Information

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. I will now consider your application which was
received on 01 February 2011.

It is my intention to have the information delivered to you by 01 March
2011. There are a limited number of exemptions that may prevent me from
releasing the information but I will try to answer your request in as much
detail as possible.

Once the information has been identified, Calderdale Council may also ask
that a fee be paid for processing and delivering the information to you.
You will be notified as soon as possible with the details of any fee to be
charged in connection with your request.

Any future correspondence you may have in relation to this matter should
be sent to me at the address shown below.

Kind regards

Dean Thompson

Corporate Records Manager

Calderdale Council

Democratic and Partnership Services

Westgate House

Halifax

HX1 1PS

(Tel: 01422 39(3074)

7 Fax: 01422 393073
* Email: [1][email address]

[2]IRMS Member Logo [3]Save paper signature

NOTE:- This communication contains confidential legal advice concerning
legal proceedings or is sent in contemplation of legal proceedings and is
privileged and is exempt from disclosure under Freedom of Information and
Data Protection provisions.

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Dear Dean Thompson,

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.

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Jeannine Houshmand, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please find attached the Council's response to your recent request for
information under the Freedom of Information Act. I trust this is
satisfactory but if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to
contact me.

Jeannine Houshmand

Access to Information Liaison Officer

Democratic & Partnership Services

The Borough Council of Calderdale

T: 01422 393044

email: [email address]

Please Note: - This email, including any attachments, is confidential and
may be legally privileged. If it is received by mistake, please let me
know and delete from your system - do not read or copy it or disclose its
contents to anyone else.

show quoted sections

Dear Jeannine Houshmand,

Many thanks for the response.

Please could you address the second question within the original message i.e. Does the council, as part of compromise agreements, attempt to restrict employees' future ability to exercise their statutory rights under FOI / DPA?

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Jeannine Houshmand, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I confirm again, as requested, that the Council does not ask employees to forego their statutory rights under the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act.

I trust this is satisfactory.

Jeannine Houshmand
Access to Information Liaison Officer
Democratic & Partnership Services
T: 01422 393044

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Dear Jeannine Houshmand,

Apologies. I overlooked the first confirmation.
Thanks again.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

345 Councils were asked these questions. East Devon District Council responded outside the statutory limit, taking 27 working days 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.

East Devon positively commented with regard to FOI / DP related gagging clauses: "the Council does not ask employees to forego their statutory rights under the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act.
."

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 - although 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