Confirming an applicant’s identify is a common practice for HR professionals within the US. In fact there are many tools available to HR and background screeners to do so. That said extra emphasis should be placed on documents that come from abroad and should be closely examined by experts of such documents. Passport and identity fraud runs rampant in a number of countries as illustrated in this recent story.
A large scale fraud by passport agents has been unearthed in the city. The Regional Passport Office has identified at least 50 cases this year where the applicants, in connivance with passport agents, produced fake verification certificates supposedly from IAS officials, police and army officials. The Regional Passport Officer Mr K. Srikar Reddy said, “We have revoked 50 passports which were obtained under the Tatkal Scheme by producing fake documents. While cross checking we found that the verification certificates were not issued by the officials concerned.”
The Begumpet police had earlier booked a case of fake verification certificates involving army officials. A seven-member gang was arrested for forging signatures of senior army officers for the purpose of Tatkal passports. The Saifabad police booked a case after a passport agent forged the signature of an IAS officer on the verification certificate. Market inspector of police S. Vinod Kumar said, “Ever since the Passport Seva Kendra opened in Ameerpet, Begumpet and Toli Chowki, the concerned police stations have been booking cases of submission of fake verification certificates which were earlier being booked by us when the passports were issued at the RPO Secunderabad. Of the 14 cases booked, two are related to these fake verification certificates.” He also added that passport agents who were cheating the public were also amongst those arrested.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued its first, significant monetary penalty following a serious data protection breach by an NHS body
The Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) has taken action following an administrative error by Welsh health board, Aneurin Bevan Health Board (“ABHB”), which led to a serious breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”).
As the ICO gets used to using its new powers to issue substantial fines, all organizations which handle personal data need to ensure they are complying with their obligations under the DPA and have the necessary measures in place to avoid serious breaches occurring.
Section 55 of the DPA came into force on 6 April 2010 and allows the ICO, where there has been a serious contravention of the Act, to serve a monetary penalty notice on data controllers. The maximum penalty that can be imposed is £500,000.
What did they do wrong?
The error, which occurred in March 2011, meant that a highly sensitive report containing details of a patient’s health was sent to a former patient who had a similar name. A letter which had been drafted by a consultant and emailed to his secretary for formatting failed to identify accurately the patient to whom it should have been sent. The draft letter misspelt the name of the patient and did not contain sufficient additional details to identify the patient concerned. Furthermore, the letter was not checked prior to it being sent.
The investigation carried out by the ICO into the incident concluded that ABHB did not have in place sufficient checks to prevent personal data being sent to the wrong person and that the members of staff involved had not received any DPA training. An exacerbating factor was that the inadequate procedures followed in this instance were replicated across ABHB.
What was the penalty?
As a result of this incident ABHB has become the first NHS organization to be fined by the ICO.
The ICO has not only issued a fine of £70,000 to ABHB (which will be reduced to £56,000 if early payment is received) but also required it to sign an undertaking with a view to ensuring that all personal data it holds is processed in accordance with the DPA.
Following its investigation into this matter; the ICO had particular concerns about ABHB’s internal practices and the undertaking also includes measures to deal with these, including implementing:
- new checks across the organization to ensure that a patients’ identities are established before any documentation containing personal data is issued;
- the provision of training for staff;
- putting in place and maintaining appropriate IT and other security measures; and
- regular monitoring of compliance with the DPA.
This decision comes shortly after the ICO indicated that it would be focusing on, amongst others, the health sector in respect of responses to subject access requests. It has highlighted that notice should be taken of this decision by those operating within the health sector and stated that it is vital that the health service ensures that it has appropriate DPA compliance procedures in place.
The Information Rights Strategy that was published by the ICO at the end of 2011 made clear that it would be taking a robust approach to DPA compliance over the coming year. This decision, reflects that approach and should be seriously considered by those organizations and employers operating within the health sector.
Future enforcement action by the ICO is likely to be significant, particularly in view of the European Commission’s proposals for reforming the approach to data protection across the European Economic Area.
Tips for organizations
- Ensure that all your employees are trained on handling personal data particularly those who process it on a day to day basis.
- Consider carrying out a data protection audit to establish the level of compliance with the DPA within your organization and, if necessary, to decide how this can be improved.
- Ensure that you actively promote, implement and monitor compliance – it is not enough to have written policies in place if they are not enforced.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 185, also known as the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention, was duly approved and ratified by President Benigno Aquino III on October 11 2011. The ratification was duly approved by the Philippine Senate and is now being transmitted to the ILO’s headquarters in Geneva for submission.
The convention provides that any seafarer who holds a valid seafarer’s identity document shall be admitted to enter the territory where the convention is in force when entry is requested for:
- temporary shore leave;
- joining his or her ship or transferring to another ship;
- passing in transit to join his or her ship in another country;
- repatriation; or
- any other purpose approved by the authorities of the member state concerned.
According to the Joint Manning Group, the shipping industry has welcomed this new development, as the convention facilitates the activities of Filipino seafarers. In particular, it makes it easier for them to take shore leave without the required visa and without any unnecessary inspection and interrogation as to their identity.
For further information on this topic please contact Ruben T Del Rosario at Del Rosario & Del Rosario law Offices by telephone (+63 2 810 1791), fax (+63 2 817 1740) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A BEERG-HR Policy Association policy paper describes how a proposed new regulation in the European Union replacing the myriad national laws governing individual data protection with a single set of EU-wide rules would have significant consequences for employment data. Most significantly, a violation of the regulation could subject a company to a fine of up to two percent of its annual global revenues. The policy paper, prepared by international law specialist, Malcolm Mason, describes several areas where the proposed regulation would impact the collection of HR data, including:
- A requirement of a “valid consent” by an employee before her/his data can be processed, and such consent may not be made a condition of employment;
- Stricter controls on transfers of personal data from within the EU to countries outside the EU;
- A “right to be forgotten” requiring data controllers to delete personal data relating to a data subject where the individual withdraws consent, objects to that controller’s processing of their information, or where their personal data is no longer needed; and
- A requirement to appoint a “data protection officer” for a two-year term with enhanced job protections.
While the proposed regulation is mainly targeted at social media and Internet trading, it fails to recognize that the nature of the relationship between an employer and an employee is fundamentally different from that between a user and Twitter or Facebook. As the proposal moves forward, our European ally BEERG will be making the case that employment data should be treated differently from social media data or client/consumer data and subjected to a separate set of rules.
Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) recently conducted national conclave on ‘Human Resource Management in Pharmaceutical Industry: Challenges and Future Directions’ in Mumbai. The Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), the umbrella body representing mostly MNC pharma companies, actively supported this initiative to analyses the importance of human resources (HR) in a start-up, budding or a well-established pharma company.
Talent acquisition, employee retention and management are some of the important topics which experts at the conclave discussed in the context of what more can be done to improve the organisation. These days employee retention is a big challenge because job-hopping is a common trend, which employees adopt for quick growth in terms of money and designation.
S D Gupta, Director, IIHMR said, “By introducing courses such as Hospital and Pharma Management, IIHMR strives to resolve this issue of talent crunch by producing well-qualified students capable of making a real difference in the field of pharma, by preparing them for the corporate roles.
Aditi Kare Panandikar, Managing Director, Indoco Remedies said, “Indian pharma companies have a great future. At home we have a market growing at 15 per cent, while internationally our companies have an opportunity to supply to the world. As Indian companies ramp-up to get their share of this growth, availability and retention of skilled manpower will remain the single largest factor which will determine our success in the years to come.”
Ajit Dangi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Danssen Consulting highlighted, “In spite of having over thousand pharmacy colleges in the country and over twice the number in management, recruitment for pharma companies continues to be a challenging task. It is estimated that less than one third of the graduates coming out of such institutes are `employment ready ` and have to be retrained.”
Dangi further stressed on the gender equality factor in the pharma sector and said that today there are a number of women graduates in science and management. HR Policies therefore have to make conscious efforts to promote gender equality within the organization. Unfortunately, barring few exceptions that too in promoter owned companies, one finds very few ladies in the board room of pharma companies. We have to learn from sectors like banking, FMCG (and off course politics ) etc. which have produced some outstanding lady CEOs.”
It has been predicted that by the year 2015, the Indian pharma industry would be the third largest all over the world with an output of $20 billion. R&D is the core function of pharma companies and requires high-skilled employees to deliver that. With the dawn of the product patent era in India from January 1, 2005, focus now shifts on ‘Research and Development’ for the pharma companies to survive in the global market. We can no longer rely on generic drugs and innovation is the need of the hour in the pharma industry. India falls short of highly qualified individuals suited to perform these functions.
An organization growth is dependent on the strength of its employees. The first step in developing a strong employee base in an organization starts with identifying and recruiting the correct human resources. An organization must have an eye to pick the right candidates from the market, sift out the less-than-optimum candidates, based on qualification, technical and soft skills. These criteria will greatly reduce the time gap between screening and appointment. However, it does not end there. The ongoing goals for human resources are talent development, employee retention and conflict management. These form the core of human resource development.
Gupta further said, “Human resources must not be selected using ‘one approach fits all companies’ formula. An ideal mix of technical and managerial skills specific for each role makes for a good candidate able to do justice to his role in an organization. And our course of pharma management prepares the students just for that.”
The role of IIHMR is not confined to provision of education. “We work at state as well as national level. We strive to build attitude towards accepting evidenced-based and not hunch-based policies. We at IIHMR also organize workshops on policy formulation,” added Gupta.
The attrition rate in the pharma industry is 20 per cent as per Gupta. This can be reduced by providing a positive atmosphere to its employees in terms of supportive culture, training programmes, a policy in place for conflict management and adequate ‘rewards and recognition’ programme is crucial to employee retention, which in turn, contributes to the company’s growth. As per reports, this year’s salary hike will be the highest for the Indian pharma industry, with a projection of 13.3 per cent hike. With this in mind, it becomes the responsibility of an organization of creating proper slabs for salary hikes for its deserving human resources.
Talking about his vision for India for the year 2020, Gupta says, “Only 35 per cent of India’s population can avail of the benefits of healthcare. Our goal for year 2020 is making good quality medicines available to the Indian public at low cost. And this is only possible for when there is highly talented manpower capable of drug R&D. And providing an education capable of producing such students is the first step in doing so and the goal of IIHMR too.”
In many organizations human resources policies and procedures are non-existent and if they are there, they are hopelessly outdated as to be practically useless.
Some companies prefer not to develop written policy statements, arguing that if they put policies in writing, the company must follow these under all circumstances, even if doing so may be harmful to the business. Unfortunately, unwritten policies that are in one person’s head, usually the top person in the organization, can lead to inconsistent treatment of employees and staff morale problems.
Documented policies help employers chart their course and the specific practices they wish to follow. However, a poorly conceived and written manual can cause many more problems than it can potentially solve. In many instances it is better to have no policy manual at all than to have a bad one.
Some organizations argue that because they have a small staff complement or when the business is only starting, they can’t afford to have human resources policies.
This is fatal thinking as the organization needs to start and grow with sound human resources policies. However it’s also fatal to have policies that have just been copied from another company.
Policies copied from other organizations might be incompatible with your organization’s culture and values thereby impacting negatively on business performance. However, it is rarely necessary to start from scratch. Looking at polices from other organizations to gain insight into how they have done it is helpful. Your human resources policies should be driven by the overall business needs.
Employers should be careful to review and edit all policies gathered from outside sources before using them in the manual. It is also critical to ensure that all policy statements are not in violation of the Labour Relations Act and Collective Bargaining Agreements for your sector. Many employers normally overlook this very important factor when designing their human resources policies.
When developing these, it is important to think thoroughly through the whole process. Remember there are literally hundreds of decisions to be made regarding human resources in the development of these policies. Do not use the manual to attempt to correct problems of mismanagement. Policy manuals cannot correct management problems.
What is the difference then between a human resources policy and procedures manual and a staff handbook? Human resources policies and procedures manuals and employee handbooks are different documents with different contents and objectives.
A Human Resources and Procedures manual is a document that presents all the organizations’ policies, its procedures for implementing these policies and the different forms to be used for specific human resources transactions. This manual is usually very detailed.
Human resources policies and procedures manuals are tools designed to acquaint managers and supervisors with the organizations’ policies and procedures and help them carry out their day-to-day human resources responsibilities.
Any employee handbook, on the other hand, is a document that introduces employees to the organization and familiarizes them with guidelines and benefits that affect the employment relationship.
Although statements of policy appear in both documents, handbook coverage is usually abbreviated.
Perhaps the most important reason to create a staff handbook is to document the employer’s expectations.
Employers should always try to avoid the temptation of developing one document to serve as both a staff handbook and a policies and procedures manual. A document of that nature is normally too detailed for employees and not detailed enough for managers. As a result, employees either do not read it or do not understand it, and managers do not find in it the information they need to carry out their daily responsibilities.
In developing human resources policies, it is important to use a standardized format. This will ensure consistency in the preparation and dissemination of policies and procedures. This procedure also helps the organization to come up with a document that has a professional appearance and this will lend credibility to the manual.
It is always advisable to have a Policy Committee that will oversee and help in the preparation of human resources policies. Setting up a committee of this nature is important even in situations where you are using an outside consultant. The committee should be made up of people from a cross section of divisions and departments, depending on the size of the organization.
Where possible, committee members should have a fair understanding of where the business is going and sound working knowledge of all the divisions or departments. The committee should be small enough to be functional yet large enough to ensure that it has expertise concerning all aspects of the company.
A number of human resources practitioners believe that because they are the experts in policy development, they alone should establish company policies.
They need to remember that policies are applicable to the whole organization hence the need for them to be relevant to all departments and divisions. It is important to point out that the policy document expresses the philosophy of the organization, not the philosophy of the human resources department. During the policy development phase, the committee needs to gather information from different sources within the organization.
After developing human resources policies and procedures, there is need to constantly review and update them, as your business needs changes. This also helps in ensuring that the policies remain viable from both a legal and employee-relation’s standpoint.
Source: Financial Gazette (Harare)
The writer is the Managing Consultant of Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm.
The implementation of a project funded by the EU and meant to improve the protection of personal data in Serbia officially started last Wednesday.
The implementation of a project funded by the EU and meant to improve the protection of personal data in Serbia officially started on Wednesday.
The project began with a meeting between Rodoljub Sabic, Serbian commissioner for information of public importance and protection of personal data, and Slovenian commissioner for information Natasa Pirc Musar.
Sabic said the project would take six months to complete and would include numerous important activities, “starting with an evaluation of how harmonized our regulations are with the EU standards on the protection personal information.”
He added the project would include “strengthening the institution of the commissioner by educating and training personnel to monitor and improve data protection in accordance with those standards,” Sabic’s office stated.
He said he was pleased to work with Slovenian colleagues, because the team led by Pic Musar had gained recognition “not only in Slovenia, but in the EU also, as a team of excellent experts.”
The protection of identity data in Serbia is still in its first stage, even with the efforts invested by the commissioner and some initial results in the field, he noted.
According to Sabic, it is an issue of extreme significance in terms of respecting constitutionally guaranteed human rights, and it is also an issue “that will be one of the first the EU will inquire about once the start date for the negotiations is set.”
Source: As reported by Ekonom:east Media Group