Almost 200 staff sign confidentiality clauses as they leave council employment

20/06/2019

A total of 193 Caerphilly council workers have had to sign confidentiality clauses as part of settlement agreements when they left the authority’s employment over the past five years.

In a series of Freedom of Information requests, the authority also revealed the reasons for the clauses included commercially sensitive and financial information and research results. The council insisted it does not use so-called gagging clauses.

Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said: “I will be seeking assurances that the confidential clauses used in settlement agreements are not used as a way of silencing whistleblowers, an issue that has been raised in the National Assembly and by MPs.

“I understand the need to protect information, for instance, that may be commercially sensitive. But agreements should not be used as a way of covering up information being released which may be in the public interest.

“I shall be seeking information from the authority on the difference between confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements and Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) or so-called gagging orders. I’d also be interested to find out if confidentiality clauses go right across the board in terms of all levels of employees.”

The reasons the council stated for confidentiality clauses were:

  • Commercially sensitive information and information relating to commercial relationships.
  • Confidential information relating to but not limited to any member, client, agent, supplier, investor and/or distributor of the council.
  • Information relating to budgets, organisation and financial forecasts, development plans, employee and information.
  • Financial information relating to the council.
  • Research plans or results, development plans, projects or business plans relating to the council.
  • Information relating to the provision of any services by the council, quality control and certification procedures adopted or followed by the council.