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£28m bill for compromise agreements that left staff feeling “gagged,” says UK watchdog

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4081 (Published 24 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f4081
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

The United Kingdom’s public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, has raised concerns about the inconsistent nature and lack of transparency and accountability in the use of compromise agreements in the public sector, in a report published on 21 June.1

The report estimated that £28.4m (€33.3m; $43.6m) has been paid out in the three years up to March 2013, in so called special severance payments to employees collectively signing 1053 compromise agreements with their former employer.

Public sector workers can be offered these payments in return for terminating their employment contract and agreeing to keep the facts surrounding the payment confidential.

The office investigated the practice by obtaining …

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