The House of Commons has apparently spent more than £800,000 in settlement agreements given to employees since 2017, reports the BBC. Moreover, a Freedom of Information Request shows that £2.4 Million was paid under settlement agreements between 2013 and 2017.
The Commons employs more than 3,000 people and many of these settlement agreements were in fact COT3 agreements through ACAS, either in Earl Conciliation or during an Employment Tribual.
The lowest sum paid was around £40 with the most paid out being nearly £180,000 according to Parliament.
Parliament’s answer to the FOI stated:
The reason the money was paid to the employees?
These payments were made as part of settlement agreements, including COT3 agreements brokered by ACAS as part of an employment tribunal claim. Further details about the reasons why this money was paid is not held by the House of Commons because these agreements are not categorised according to the reasons they are made. A series of factors are considered in these business cases and a settlement agreement is often reached in cases in which the organisation and the individual do not agree on what the issue is.
Many of the settlement agreements including clauses on confidentiality which the press reported as “gagging orders”. Many settlement agreements do contain clauses about keeping business secrets confidential, but they should not stop an employee from whistleblowing serious issues which would amount to a public interest.