Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to East Northamptonshire District Council

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The request was successful.

Dear East Northamptonshire District Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees 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 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 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

Patricia Orr, East Northamptonshire District Council

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email dated 03 January 2011 requesting information, under the Freedom of Information Act, relating to Compromise Agreements. East Northamptonshire Council holds the information below, relating to your request, which is available to you under the Freedom of Information Act.

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number
of current employees / ex-employees 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).

Records that go back for 7 years show that the only year that compromise agreements were signed related to the above was in 2008 when 3 were signed directly related to resolving grievances.

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 the 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.
None

The Council confirms that it does not hold any other information specific to your request which is exempt under the Freedom of Information Act.

If you have any further questions relating to your request for information please do not hesitate to contact me.

For further information regarding the Freedom of Information Act, including a copy of the Council's Freedom of Information Policy, please visit the council's website, www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/foi

Yours sincerely

Tricia Orr

Service Information Officer

Resources and Organisational Development

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

East Northamptonshire District Council were one of the quicker respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 13 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.

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