Date posted: 01/01/2007
Audience: Finance Directors and Managers involved in the preparation of resource accounts.
Action: Replace chapter 13 of the Employers’ Pension Guide (EPG) with the attached pages.
Timing: You should use this guidance when you prepare the resource accounts for 2006-07.
The Remuneration Report
- Resource accounts from 2005-06 onwards must include a separate “Remuneration Report”. This contains all the information about the pay and pension packages of Ministers and the senior management team previously contained in a note to the accounts. These requirements have been agreed by the Treasury following the guidance of the Financial Reporting Advisory Board.
- The Remuneration Report should also include information about your remuneration policy; the service contracts offered to senior staff and compensation payable on early severance or early retirement. In most cases, you will only need to describe these in general terms.
- We attach Annexes 13A and 13B of the EPG which are the forms you can send to obtain the pension information you require for your accounts.
- We attach an example of what a Remuneration Report could look like at Annex 13C. You should ensure that the text describes the policies relevant to you, although you should not make changes to the notes explaining pension benefits without the agreement of Civil Service Pensions Division.
- You should send your request for the required pension information to your APAC as soon as possible so that they can ensure they have all the data they need on the individuals concerned. However you should be aware that your APAC will not be able to complete the calculations before 2 March 2007. It may be advisable to discuss with your APAC when your figures will be available.
Disclosure of personal information
- Based on legal opinion obtained by the Cabinet Office at the time of the initial introduction of the requirement to disclose salary and pension information for named individuals, the FReM (and the RAM before it) noted that the individuals affected would need to give their consent to the information being disclosed. This was to avoid offending the provisions of the Data Protection Act regarding the disclosure of personal information.
- However, a recent decision by the Information Commissioner has clarified that prior consent is not required. The decision was based on a case brought against a Health Trust in Northern Ireland under the Freedom of Information Act, but is also relevant in England and Wales, although not in Scotland. In brief, the Trust argued that it was not required to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act about an individual’s salary and pension as the individual had withheld consent and the information was not given in the accounts. A copy of the decision can be obtained from www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/decisionnotices/2006/decision_notice_fs50093734.pdf.
- The Commissioner held that although the data is “personal data” under the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”), it is not exempt information under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as none of the data protection principles would be breached by its release. As a result, entities are entitled to publish details of salary and pension entitlements of staff without their prior consent.
- However, there is an exception – an individual would need to give consent if publication would prejudice his/her rights, freedoms or legitimate interests (as this would lead to the 6th condition in Sch 2 to the DPA not being met, and therefore a breach of the 1st Data protection principle), or where publication would cause or be likely to cause substantial damage or substantial distress to the individual or another and that damage or distress would be unwarranted (section 10 of the DPA). If a member states that publication would prejudice his/her rights, freedoms or legitimate interests then you must decide whether to accept this statement. If you decide not to publish details in a particular case then this may be challenged under the Freedom of Information Act.
- You should advise the individuals concerned that details of their salary and pension entitlements will be published unless the individual can make a case for non-disclosure based on the criteria described in paragraph 8. However, where already agreed, disclosures need not be made where national security is involved or in cases where an individual’s personal safety may be in danger, the amendments to the FreM will continue to allow non-disclosure in these circumstances.
- As a result of this decision, references in the FreM to the need to obtain prior consent can be omitted, and (except in the circumstances noted above) employees will have to argue the case for non-disclosure.
- Should there be a successful appeal against, or further consideration of the Information Commissioner’s decision, further guidance will be issued.
Disclosure of other pension information
- You should continue to disclose the information about retirement benefits, required by section 6.5 of the FreM, as a note to the resource accounts.
This document replaces EPN141
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