Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Employment Tribunal Investigations Unit; You Couldn't make it Up (although it seems someone did)

I know I haven't mentioned it much but last year I was involved in an Employment Tribunal case with Nottingham City Council. Modesty prevents me from mentioning the fact that I won obviously.

So you can imagine my interest being awakened when I saw a mention of an 'Employment Tribunal Investigations Unit' mentioned in the minutes of the Audit Committee meeting of 18 December last year. So I stuck in a Freedom of Information request to find out a bit more about it.

Here's the reply I got.

"I have investigated your request and the answer to your questions is that there is no 'Employment Tribunal Investigations Unit' and the mention of such within the minutes of the meeting you speak of was a clerical error."

I mean, what would your first reaction be? Why would someone randomly ask about a fictitious 'Employment Tribunal Investigation Unit' at a meeting? Why not 'Paperclip Accountability Commission'? Or 'Robot Kitten Recovery Squad'?

Then I had a thought and rushed off to check the minutes of the meeting again and yes, you've guessed it, they've amended them. Now, the mention of 'Employment Tribunal Investigation Unit' has been changed to "the Council's approach to dealing with Employment Tribunals". (see minute 54(2))

Hmmm, something smells a bit like fish. I suppose it's feasible that the minute taker misunderstood what was said and conflated a request to look into the approach to employment tribunals as meaning a full blown 'investigations unit' but it's also just possible that NCC would be embarrassed about having such a thing, as that would imply that NCC is subject to quite a lot of employment tribunals, suggesting that they weren't the most sympathetic of employers, and that would never do.

I can't be bothered asking for review, I'll just wait for the minutes of the meeting where it's being discussed.

What's the betting that that they pull the shutters down and claim a public interest exclusion?

Update 14 Feb; I have received reliable info that the 'Employment Tribunal Investigation Unit' WAS mentioned at the December 09 meeting but that at the next meeting it was announced that there was in fact no such thing. In other words it doesn't seem to be the fault of the minute taker.

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