Universities in £1.3m pay outs
Bath’s two universities spent more than £1.3 million in five years on non-disclosure agreements with staff, it can be revealed. Bath Spa University paid out £676,268 to 12 employees between 2014 and 2017. University of Bath used £635,000 on ‘COT3 agreements’ with between 33 and 37 employees in the five academic years from 2013-14 to 2017-18. The exact number of staff who signed agreements has not been disclosed by the university. The figures were given under freedom of information laws. An individual who signs a non-disclosure or settlement agreement typically waives their rights to making an employment tribunal claim according to employment service Acas. The settlements have been referred to as “gagging clauses” and were brought into the spotlight by high profile cases such as the Presidents Club dinner and Harvey Weinstein. A union spokesman said there was a risk that workers could be disadvantaged if they enter into one, and that it would “never condone” doing so as a means of resolving employment disputes that posed a risk to workers. One of the universities said it entered the agreements to avoid lengthy disagreements and potential legal bills and confidentiality clauses were “standard practice”. Details of individual payments have not been disclosed, but payments at the University of Bath average £17,162 per person – slightly above the fourth lowest salary on its pay structure. Bath Spa’s average was more than three times higher – at £56,355. The University of Bath said its “preference is to resolve any disagreements using informal resolution and mediation. “In rare cases where this is not possible, both parties may decide that a more formal agreement on how to proceed is needed,” it said.