Revealed: Oxford’s use of controversial ‘gagging clauses’

first_imgTaylor added: “We would not condone the use of settlement agreements to sidestep compulsory redundancy procedures, although in some situations we recognise that voluntary severance arrangements may be acceptable.”Speaking on confidentiality clauses in redundancy settlements, an Oxford University spokesperson said: “Confidentiality clauses are often used by employers in settlement agreements documenting voluntary severance agreements.“Although we cannot comment on individual cases, the University might use a confidentiality clause placing an obligation on both the employee and the University which generally covers the terms of the agreement itself.”Universities’ contracts are coming under increasing scrutiny, amid claims that they are becoming more casualised and wages are stagnating.Last May, Oxford academics and other staff members went on strike after a dispute over low pay.Jacob Williams, Editor of the libertarian magazine No Offence, described the interest in confidentiality clauses as “an attempt by the Liberal Democrats to seem relevant.”He told Cherwell: “Compromise agreements mainly concern the internal administration of universities, not substantive opinions held by academics, and frankly aren’t interesting.“More important is the culture of intolerance towards any views that contradict secular liberalism and its faddish offshoots.” The figures show that out of 106 voluntary redundancy settlements made by the University of Oxford in the past five years, 26 have included compromise agreements, of which just under 70 per cent included a promise of confidentiality on behalf of the former employee.The use of such compromise agreements in higher education has come under fire in recent weeks.Speaking to Cherwell, Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, described their use across the sector as “simply outrageous”, with the risk of stifling debate.“Universities are supposed to be bastions of free speech and forthright opinions, yet our research has shown that confidentiality clauses may have been used not only to avoid dirty laundry being aired in public but now are just common practice in higher education. Oxford University has repeatedly used so-called “gagging clauses” in redundancy settlements with former employees, figures obtained by Cherwell reveal.A Freedom of Information (FOI) request found that the University has signed 18 “confidentiality clauses” with former staff members in the last five years.It showed that the University has paid out £735,988 in severance payments to departing employees during the period.Confidentiality clauses typically form part of “compromise” or “settlement” agreements, which tend to struck between an employee and employer when a former staff member accepts a severance payment for waiving the right to sue an organisation.center_img “These gagging orders have a deterrent effect, employers seem to think that employees will just sign away the right to whistleblow,” he said.Oxford University insisted that “whistleblowing is not covered by the clauses, should that need arise”.The figures reveal that Oxford’s use of such clauses is lower than that of other UK universities.Previous FOI requests showed 48 universities have paid out £146 million in severance cash to staff over the past five years and 3,722 people were asked to sign compromise agreements.They revealed Cambridge had used 237 settlement agreements in recent years. London Metropolitan University was shown to have signed the highest number, with 894 signed since 2011/12.A spokesperson for London Metropolitan said it was “common practice in higher education, and other sectors, to include compromise agreements in any voluntary redundancy settlements made”.President of the Oxford branch of the University and College Union (UCU), Garrick Taylor, told Cherwell that the Union was not opposed to the “justified” use of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements with its members in certain circumstances.He described them as “an appropriate way to register acceptance on both sides that disagreements have formally been laid to rest.”However, Taylor raised concern at the potential misuse of settlement agreements, saying: “We oppose the ‘hushing up’ of malpractice in any circumstances, and the use of ‘gagging clauses’ to achieve that.”last_img read more

Blizzard Causes Cuomo to Declare State of Emergency for LI

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Nassau and Suffolk Counties as a Nor’easter began its onslaught on Long Island Friday afternoon, dumping snow and rain across the Island.Declaring a state of emergency allows the state to better aid local governments hit harder than others. The declaration also includes Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland and Westchester.The governor and other agencies throughout the day warned drivers to get off the roads as soon as possible and to make way for public work crews to clear snow-covered roadways.Traffic was moving at a snail-like pace on some roadways, including the Northern State Parkway where drivers pulled over to clear snow off their cars. Some cars had veered off the road and into trees while other drivers tried unsuccessfully to get their cars out of heavy packs of snow.Nassau County police reported Friday night that Route 135 is closed in both directions at exit 14 and that the southbound ramp is also closed from the Long Island Expressway due to snow.“As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel, and stay indoors,” Cuomo said. “To ensure an effective and rapid response to this winter storm, I am declaring a state of emergency for counties in the lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island so resources can get to communities where they are needed as quickly as possible.”The storm, which was expected to wallop most of the Northeast, led to nearly 5,000 flight cancellations, including more than 2,300 flights locally.John F. Kennedy Airport said it would cease operations at 6:30 p.m., the governor’s office said. LaGuardia was to suspend most flight operations at 4 p.m.The Long Island Rail Road was operating without any delays on most of its branches, reporting minimal disruptions due to storm conditions.The railroad notified officials that it will suspend service if snow accumulation reaches 10 to 13 inches.In preparation for the storm, the New York State Department of Transportation prepared hundreds of plow trucks to hit the roads. The state also has more than 470,000 tons of salt on hand to treat roads before and during the storm.The state also deployed extra New York State Troopers to Long Island to assist local police with their response efforts.The National Weather Service said the worst is yet to come and that the storm is expected to intensify at 9 p.m. All of Long Island remains under a blizzard warning until 1 p.m. Saturday.As of 6:30 p.m. the Long Island Power Authority, which ceased storm response operations to National Grid during the storm, reported that more than 5,000 customers were without power.last_img read more

Malvertizing threats infect the web: KnowBe4

first_imgThe Clearwater, Fla.-based security firm KnowBe4 has warned of new breed of ransomware disguised as online advertisements. The phenomenon, dubbed “malvertizing,” involves hackers who load poisoned ads onto, a publishing network employed by websites such as and malware-laced ads redirect to a Microsoft Azure website. Malvertizing has apparently spread to eBay, Yahoo and – sites visited by millions of users – according to security researchers at MalwareBytes and SC Magazine.KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman said, “The same cybercrime lowlifes that infected the Yahoo website a few weeks ago have struck again, and were serving poisoned web ads which either dropped CryptoWall ransomware or infected the PC with adware.” continue reading » 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Black Cats strike back for Stoke point

first_imgJohn O’Shea snatched a potentially priceless point for Sunderland as they held Stoke to a 1-1 draw despite seeing Craig Gardner sent off after only 34 minutes. Neither side had managed a shot on goal before Walters put the visitors in front in the ninth minute. Walters’ header from Adam’s corner was blocked by Danny Graham on the line but the Republic of Ireland international reacted quickest to power the loose ball home via the underside of the bar. Adam Johnson was Sunderland’s best attacking outlet but he was struggling for support. Sunderland’s task became even harder when Adam’s charge down the right flank was ended by a dangerous studs-up challenge from Gardner, but Stoke did not overdo attempts to punish their opponents’ numerical disadvantage. Johnson went close to producing an equaliser with a free-kick just prior to the break but it squirmed wide and O’Shea almost got on the scoresheet on the hour, prodding goalwards only to see Dean Whitehead block on the line. And the captain went one better two minutes later, popping up at the far post to side-foot Seb Larsson’s corner over the line after Whitehead failed to get a solid connection. Remarkably Sunderland’s 10 men did not appear to tire and Danny Rose was inches away from putting them ahead in the 80th minute with a skidding attempt that struck the the post. Steven Nzonzi went closest to winning it for the visitors, hooking a shot over with his back to goal. Defeat at the Stadium of Light would have left the Black Cats in a perilous situation just above the relegation zone but, having gone behind to Jonathan Walters’ early effort, they showed great heart in the second half and deserved to see O’Shea prod home a 63rd-minute corner. Gardner can take little credit for the result, though, and his red card for a dangerous challenge on Charlie Adam was fully warranted. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

England amateur Conor Gough to make Tour debut

first_img England amateur star Conor Gough will make his European Tour debut at Hillside next week after receiving an invite to participate in the 2019 Betfred British Masters from May 9-12.The 16-year-old, who won the British Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and Portstewart last year, will be taking the same first steps on the European Tour as this year’s British Masters host Tommy Fleetwood. He made his European Tour debut at the same event in 2008. Fleetwood missed the cut by just one shot after rounds of 75 and 73, so Gough will be hoping to go one better in Southport.Similarly to Fleetwood, Gough has been a member of a victorious Jacques Léglise Trophy side and is a member of the England Boys’ squad. Fleetwood represented GB&I against Europe in 2007 and again in 2008, helping his side win the trophy on both occasions.“I’m very excited to play the Betfred British Masters,” said Gough. “I can’t wait to see the European Tour pros play up close and try and compete with some of them. It’ll be a great experience for me and it’ll give me a taste of what the future may hold.“Having people like Tommy to look up to really gives young English golfers a lot of confidence, knowing that there are players out there who are better than the Europeans or the Americans. It’s very important to have people like Tommy, Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace to name a few to look up to – it gives us the knowledge that it can be done.”Gough has three victories to his name in the last 12 months, adding the Fairhaven Trophy and Major Champions Invitational to his trophy cabinet alongside his Boys Amateur success – he became the first Englishman to win the Boys Amateur since Matt Fitzpatrick in 2012. He also represented Team Europe at The 2018 Junior Ryder Cup last September. He won England Golf’s Performance of the Year Award for his successes in 2018.“Before last season I really knuckled down over the winter and did a lot of practice, and that really paid off,” said Gough. “The British Boys Amateur was the most mentally tough week I’ve had in my life, but it was also really fun. Then I had the chance to go to the Junior Ryder Cup, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.“Having the opportunity to play in the British Masters feels like a reward for the hard work I’ve put in over the last 12 months, I can’t wait to get started.”Gough may well be the busiest player in the field at Hillside next month. When he is not out on the fairways, he will be studying for his GCSE exams which start later in May.“It’s going to tough preparing for both,” added Gough. “Most mornings I’ll be revising and then playing golf in the afternoon. When I’m at Hillside, I’ll be revising when I’m not playing golf. I think I’ll manage it – I might be one of the busiest people that week.”Fleetwood continues the sequence of British players claiming hosting rights since the rebirth of the tournament in 2015.“Playing the British Masters in 2008 was a great experience for me,” said Fleetwood. “I missed the cut by one shot but I learned so much being around so many great players.“Hopefully Conor will benefit from his experience in the same way I did and go out and enjoy the week.”Ian Poulter (2015), Luke Donald (2016), Lee Westwood (2017) and most recently Justin Rose (2018) have all played an important part in the success of the tournament following its reintroduction to the schedule, which had previously been an integral part of the European Tour’s calendar from the Tour’s formation in 1972 through to 2008.Tickets to the 2019 Betfred British Masters hosted by Tommy Fleetwood at Hillside Golf Club from May 9-12 are available by clicking here. A range of hospitality packages are also available.Image copyright Leaderboard Photography 3 May 2019 England amateur Conor Gough to make Tour debut Tags: elite golf, England Boys’ Squad, European Tourlast_img read more