FOIA response to 7164 and 7165:
Over the past two years to end of March 2013:
1) How many "compromise agreements" have been signed?
2) What evidence exists that employees access "independent" advice?
The signature of a solicitor on the compromise agreement and receipt of their invoice. Independent legal advice is a requirement within the compromise agreement itself.
3) Can the council guarantee that they do not provide any advice as to where employees should seek advice regarding such agreements?
We do not provide advice or recommendations. However, some employees do ask for the names of solicitors other employees have used, in which case we direct them to their own trade unions for advice and provide a list, but we are clear that this does not constitute a recommendation and they can choose whichever solicitor/legal adviser they wish, and it is their responsibility to ensure they are fully aware of what the charges will be.
4) Are redundancy payments calculated under a standard format or are there circumstances where this might be varied?
Yes they are calculated to a standard formula.
We can confirm that Section 43 J of the Employment Right Act has always prevented matters concerning protected disclosures (known as ‘whistleblowing’) from being silenced by a confidentiality clause, therefore the council would always have been prevented from enforcing this if it was breached by the employee, under these circumstances. As employees take legal advice before signing the agreement, this is something they should be aware of.