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Openreach: Use of Compromise Agreements

6 February 2013

The National Team (NT) have received numerous examples from across Openreach of members being pro-actively approached and offered Compromise Agreements (CA's). This number is growing and in December there was a fourteen-fold increase since October 2012.

There are clear guidelines associated with the use of CAs and these were contained in a letter from Tom Keeney to Andy Kerr dated October 2011. The specific extract from the letter is reproduced below.

Use of Compromise Agreements in PM/Absence Management cases

Compromise agreements are widely used throughout industry. They are not part of our standard process and should not be regarded as an alternative to dismissal. Compromise agreements are entirely at the company’s discretion and on a case by case basis. The use of compromise agreements will continue where an individual and the company agree that such an arrangement is mutually acceptable. We have, however, listened to the concerns raised by CWU and we have agreed to the following:

  • all compromise requests from team members will receive appropriate senior ER management sign off;
  • any individual who wishes to consider the option of a compromise agreement will be given appropriate time to evaluate their options before deciding to proceed with any such agreement. We have agreed that we will increase the time for team members to consider a compromise agreement as a result of performance issues or absence to 10 days from the current period of 3 days;
  • team members will be formally advised of the right to consult with their Union. We will reinforce this to our management teams to ensure this advice is provided to individuals at the 1:1 where the option is raised;
  • there will be no proactive communication of compromise agreements although all options open to the individual should be explained within the confines of the confidential 1:1 performance or absence discussions between managers and their people.

Openreach confirmed that they would apply the terms of the agreement in a letter dated 20 December 2011 from Joe McDavid, HR Director.

In the NT's opinion the examples received by CWU Head Office to date are outside that agreement and appear to target those in the upper end of the demographic age bracket and length of service. A number of those raised have not been subject to the formal performance or absence processes as set out above. There also appears to be a concentration on those who may have expressed an interest in leaving the business previously regardless of the circumstances.

The NT have requested copies of any documents, slides or websites which exist to assist managers in any conversations they may have in line with the agreement between us and instigated by the individual. To date, Openreach have declined to provide the CWU NT with any information.

Members are requested to contact the Branch Office to notify us of all approaches made to them and seek to ensure all offers and the reasons for the conversations are documented where possible.