Latest Public Sector News

03.04.13

Pickles warns against council gagging orders

Councils have been warned against using gagging clauses against former staff by communities’ secretary Eric Pickles.

Around 200 civil servants and 4,562 council workers have signed ‘compromise agreements’, many of which involved confidentiality clauses. The total cost of this was £14m over two years, the Daily Telegraph reported.

A Freedom of Information request found 256 councils in Britain have signed compromise agreements with former staff between 2005 and 2010.

Pickles said: “For too long, local government has made departing staff sign gagging orders, often with big pay-offs attached, away from the eyes of those who get left with the bill: the taxpayer.

“When leaving a job, councils and their employees need to part ways fairly. Giving out thousands in under-the-counter pay-offs to silence departing staff is not the way to achieve this. Councils have a responsibility to the public and transparency is at the heart of that.

“By shining a light on these activities and introducing new democratic checks and balances to stop gagging orders being abused we are helping councils improve accountability in local government.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. DCLG

Comments

Bob Wright   08/04/2013 at 16:37

What this does not address is the variance between senior and junior staff leaving and the way media publicity is used to circumvent confidentiality. We are told the costs of legal action which can be brought by those leaving is higher than the amount they leave with. There is a financial logic applied which ensures senior staff leave with considerably more even in these difficult circumstances. The 'us' and 'them' even works with gagging orders.

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