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What is a HIPAA Violation in Workplace?

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A HIPAA violation in the workplace can be defined as a situation in which an individual’s personal health information is mishandled or accessed without authorization. This can occur when an employee doesn’t take proper precautions to protect their health information, when a third party improperly accesses the data, or when an organization fails to properly implement safeguards. According to the basics of HIPAA law,  employers must take steps to protect their employees’ personal health information, and violators can face serious penalties. If you’re concerned that your employer may have violated HIPAA protections, don’t hesitate to get help in this regard. An experienced attorney can assess the situation and help you take steps to protect your rights.

Regardless of the cause, any HIPAA violation can have serious consequences for the individual involved. For example, if an employee’s health information is compromised, they may be at risk for identity theft and other scams. If their employer discovers the breach, they could face legal penalties for not taking adequate measures to protect their employees’ data. So whatever kind of information you handle on a daily basis- from your salary to your prescription drugs- make sure you’re taking all necessary precautions to keep it safe from prying eyes and malicious actors. And if you ever notice any potential HIPAA violations happening within your workplace, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. According to the basics of HIPAA law, a HIPAA violation can have serious consequences for the individual involved. Some HIPAA violations can include:

1. Sharing Protected Health Information Without Authorization From The Patient:

A HIPAA violation in the workplace can occur when individual shares protected health information (PHI) without authorization from the patient. This includes unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, or use of PHI. Violations can also occur when an individual fails to adhere to HIPAA standards for protecting PHI. When an organization commits a HIPAA violation, it could be subject to significant penalties, including monetary fines and/or debarment from participating in federal healthcare programs. In some cases, individuals involved with the organization may also be personally liable for damages incurred as a result of the breach. Therefore, it is important that organizations take seriously their responsibility to protect PHI and comply with all HIPAA requirements.

2. Failing To Keep Protected Health Information Confidential:

If an individual fails to protect their health information from unauthorized access, disclosure, or use in a workplace setting, this may be a HIPAA violation. This type of violation could result in serious consequences for the worker, including potential fines and/or criminal charges. In order to ensure that their health information remains confidential, employees must take steps such as password guarding their files and not sharing sensitive information with unauthorized individuals. According to the basics of HIPAA law, organizations are not allowed to demand that employees reveal their passwords in order to access their health information.

3. Tampering With Protected Health Information:

Another HIPAA violation can occur when someone at work alters, destroys, or tampers with protected health information. This includes altering records without the patient’s consent, unauthorized access to PHI, and mislabeling PHI as non-patient information. Violations can result in hefty fines from the US Department of Health as well as possible jail time. Another possible HIPAA violation occurs if an individual tampers with their health information in any way. This could include changing or removing information or tampering with the data in any way. If an employee suspects that their health information has been tampered with, they should immediately report the incident to their supervisor.

4. Failing To Comply With The Payment And Security Standards For Health Information:

One of the key provisions of HIPAA is that health care providers must comply with payment and security standards when handling PHI. This means ensuring that all electronic data transmissions are encrypted, that all records are properly protected against unauthorized access, and that all payments are made through secure channels. If an employer fails to meet these standards, they could be fined by HHS or face other penalties such as suspension or termination of their healthcare provider relationship.

5. Not Having A Secure Electronic System In Place That Can Handle PHI:

HIPAA requires that all healthcare providers maintain a secure electronic system in place that can handle PHI. This system must be able to protect the privacy of patients’ information and prevent unauthorized access. If your organization does not have a secure electronic PHI system in place, you may be violating HIPAA. In other words, the system is not properly protected from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. If an employee learns of their PHI being mishandled through this type of violation, they may feel concerned about their privacy and may experience emotional distress as a result.

6. Not Properly Training Employees On HIPAA And Its Regulations:

There are a number of HIPAA violations in the workplace that can lead to legal action. One of the most common HIPAA violations is not properly training employees on how to comply with the law. This can lead to data breaches and other issues that could damage an organization’s reputation. Employees need to be aware of their rights and obligations when it comes to HIPAA, and they need to be trained on how to properly protect personal information. If an organization fails to take these precautions, it could face serious penalties. If an employee violates HIPAA regulations without proper training, the organization could be liable for damages. This is why it is important for organizations to ensure their employees are up-to-date on all of the latest HIPAA compliance requirements.

7. Failing To Report Any Unauthorized Access To PHI:

If you learn that someone has unauthorized access to your personal health information (PHI), you have a legal obligation to report this incident to your organization’s PHI security officer. This is known as “reporting a HIPAA violation.” If you fail to report unauthorized access, it will be another violation you may be liable for damages that result from the unauthorized access. Reporting a HIPAA violation is important not only because it helps protect your PHI but also because it can help punish those responsible for the breach. Failing to report unauthorized access can lead to disciplinary action, including termination of employment. So if you learn of any unauthorized access to your PHI, make sure you report it immediately.

8. Lost Or Stolen Devices:

One common HIPAA violation in the workplace is lost or stolen devices. This can include anything from laptops to smartphones to tablets. If a device is lost or stolen, it can seriously impact the work productivity of the individual who owns it and can even lead to information being compromised. In order for businesses to minimize the risk of HIPAA violations, they should take steps to ensure that devices are properly secured and that employees are aware of their responsibility to keep their devices safe. If you suspect that a device has been stolen or lost, you should take steps to ensure that your data is safe. You may want to consider filing a police report, locking down your device with a password, and monitoring your account for suspicious activity. According to the basics of HIPAA law, if you believe that your privacy as a patient has been violated as a result of a lost or stolen device, you have the right to file a complaint with your employer.

Final Thoughts:             

When it comes to compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), employers must be aware of a variety of HIPAA violations that can occur in the workplace. While these violations can be serious, they often can be corrected without any legal repercussions. However, if an employer is found to have committed a HIPAA violation, it could face fines and other penalties. Therefore, it is important for employers to take proactive steps to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations.

By following the HIPAA regulations, you can protect your employees and ensure that they are safe while working in the workplace. Make sure to keep track of any HIPAA violations that your employees may commit. According to the basics of HIPAA law, you have the right to file a complaint against an organization if you believe that your privacy as a patient has been violated in the workplace.

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UN trade body calls for halting cryptocurrency rise in developing countries

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The UN trade and development body, UNCTAD, has called for action to curb cryptocurrencies in developing nations, in three policy briefs published on Wednesday. 

Although private digital currencies have rewarded some individuals and institutions, they are an unstable financial asset that can bring social risks and costs, the agency warned. 

UNCTAD said their benefits to some are overshadowed by the threats they pose to financial stability, domestic resource mobilization, and the security of monetary systems. 

Rise of crypto 

Cryptocurrencies are an alternative form of payment. Transactions are done digitally through encrypted technology known as blockchain. 

The use of cryptocurrency rose globally at an unprecedented rate during the COVID-19 pandemic, reinforcing a trend that was already in motion. Some 19,000 are currently in existence.  

In 2021, developing countries accounted for 15 of the top 20 economies when it comes to the share of the population that owns cryptocurrencies.

Ukraine topped the list with 12.7 per cent, followed by Russia and Venezuela, with 11.9 per cent and 10.3 per cent, respectively.  

Not so golden 

The first brief – All that glitters is not gold: The high cost of leaving cryptocurrencies unregulated – examines the reasons behind the rapid uptake of cryptocurrencies in developing countries, including facilitation of remittances and as a hedge against currency and inflation risks

“Recent digital currency shocks in the market suggest that there are private risks to holding crypto, but if the central bank steps in to protect financial stability, then the problem becomes a public one,” UNCTAD said. 

Furthermore, if cryptocurrencies continue to grow as a means of payment, and even replace domestic currencies unofficially, the “monetary sovereignty” of countries could be jeopardized. 

UNCTAD also highlighted the particular risk that stablecoins pose in developing countries with unmet demand for reserve currencies.  As their name implies, stablecoins are designed to maintain stability as their value is pegged to another currency, commodity or financial instrument. 

“For some of these reasons, the International Monetary Fund has expressed the view that cryptocurrencies pose risks as legal tender,” the agency said. 

The second policy brief focuses on the implications of cryptocurrencies for the stability and security of monetary systems, and to financial stability in general. 

“It is argued that a domestic digital payment system that serves as a public good could fulfil at least some of the reasons for crypto use and limit the expansion of cryptocurrencies in developing countries,” said UNCTAD. 

For example, monetary authorities could provide a central bank digital currency or a fast retail payment system, though measures will depend on national capacities and needs. 

However, UNCTAD has urged governments “to maintain the issuance and distribution of cash”, given the risk of deepening the digital divide in developed countries. 

Tax evasion fears 

The final policy brief discusses how cryptocurrencies have become a new channel for undermining domestic resource mobilization in developing countries, and warns of the dangers of doing too little, too late. 

While cryptocurrencies can facilitate remittances, UNCTAD warned that they may also enable tax evasion and avoidance through illicit financial flows – similar to a tax haven, where ownership is not easily identifiable. 

“In this way, cryptocurrencies may also curb the effectiveness of capital controls, a key instrument for developing countries to preserve their policy space and macroeconomic stability,” the agency added. 

Curbing crypto 

UNCTAD has outlined several actions aimed at halting cryptocurrency expansion in developing countries. 

The agency urged authorities to regulate crypto exchanges, digital wallets and decentralized finance to ensure the comprehensive financial regulation of cryptocurrencies. 

Furthermore, regulated financial institutions should be banned from holding cryptocurrencies, including stablecoins, or offering related products to their clients. 

Advertising related to cryptocurrencies also should be regulated, as is the case with other high-risk financial assets.

Governments are advised to provide a safe, reliable and affordable public payment system adapted to the digital era. 

UNCTAD also advocates for global tax coordination regarding cryptocurrency tax treatments, regulation and information sharing.

Additionally, capital controls should be redesigned to take account of what the agency described as “the decentralized, borderless and pseudonymous features of cryptocurrencies”.

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Young workers have been hit hardest by COVID fallout

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migrant workers
photo: UN Women/Pornvit Visitoran

The number of young people globally who can’t find a job this year is set to reach 73 million – that’s a full six million more than before COVID-19 – the UN labour agency said on Thursday.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the pandemic has caused many additional problems for 15 to 24-year-olds who’ve experienced “much higher” unemployment losses than older workers since the global health emergency was declared in early 2020.

Young women have struggled more than their male counterparts to find work, while Arab nations are expected to see the highest levels of youth unemployment by the end of the year, compared to the global average.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on youth labour markets around the world,” said Martha Newton, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy. “It’s exposed a number of shortcomings in the way the needs of young people are addressed, especially the most vulnerable first-time job seekers, school dropouts, fresh graduates with little experience and those who remain inactive not by choice.”

Speaking at the launch of ILO’s report, Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022: Investing in transforming futures for young people,  Ms. Newton said that the share of youth not in employment, education or training in 2020 rose to 23.3 per cent.

That represents an increase of 1.5 percentage points from 2019 and represents a level not seen in at least 15 years, the ILO report found.

“This group of young people are at particular risk of seeing their labour market opportunities and outcomes deteriorate also over the longer-term as ‘scarring’ effects take hold,” it noted.

Gender inequality

The report’s takeaways include the worrying finding that young women are worse off than young men when it comes to finding a job. This year, fewer than three in 10 young women globally are expected to be in work, compared to well over four in 10 young men.

“The gender gap, which has shown little sign of closing over the past two decades, is largest in lower-middle-income countries, at 17.3 percentage points, and smallest in high-income countries, at 2.3 percentage points,” the ILO report stated.

Only high-income countries on course to recover

Latest labour data scrutinised by ILO also indicated that only high-income counties are likely to see a recovery in youth unemployment levels “close to those of 2019” by the end of this year.

In lower-income countries, youth unemployment rates are projected to remain more than one percentage point above pre-crisis values.

In Africa, the continent’s youth unemployment rate of 12.7 per cent masks the fact that many youths have chosen to withdraw from the labour market altogether, ILO said. It noted that “over one in five young people in Africa was not in employment, education, or training in 2020, and the trend has been deteriorating”.

The Arab States have the highest and the fastest growing unemployment rate of young people worldwide, projected at 24.8 per cent in 2022. “The situation is worse for young women in the region, with 42.5 per cent unemployment in 2022, which is almost three times as high as the global average for young women (14.5 per cent),” ILO said.

In Europe and Central Asia, unemployment among 15 to 24-year-olds is expected to be 1.5 per cent higher than the rest of the world this year (16.4 per cent compared with 14.9 per cent). Although there has been “substantial progress” in reducing youth unemployment for both women and men, ILO said that the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “highly likely to affect the results”.

While the Asia Pacific region is set to see 14.9 per cent of young workers still looking for a job by the end of the year, in line with the global average, the picture will likely remain worrying in Latin America, where the rate is expected to be 20.5 per cent.

“Historically, young women’s unemployment rates have been higher than young men’s (in Latin American countries), but the crisis exacerbated this trend,” ILO’s report stated.

The picture is radically different in North America, however, where the youth and young adult unemployment rate is expected to be well world average levels, at 8.3 per cent.

Solutions are green and blue

To address the problem, the UN labour agency urged governments to implement of sustainable green and blue (ocean) policy measures. According to the report, this could generate an additional 8.4 million jobs for young people by 2030.

Targeted investments in digital technologies could also absorb high numbers of young workers, ILO maintained. By achieving universal broadband coverage by 2030, some 24 million new jobs could be created worldwide it said, with young workers taking 6.4 million of them.

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Maldives Can Seize Opportunities to Boost Public Revenue, Make Public Spending More Efficient

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Maldives’ economy is on the road to recovery following the unprecedented shocks of COVID-19. Key reforms can enhance the quality of public spending, strengthen debt management and debt transparency and collect more revenues to finance the country’s development needs, according to the World Bank’s Maldives Public Expenditure Review (PER) launched today.

Much of the increase in public spending and debt over the past five years has financed investments in basic services and infrastructure, especially housing. While these investments can boost long-term growth, making public spending more efficient, transparent, and targeted towards the neediest groups, it is essential to contain the rapid rise in spending and debt. Such reforms are particularly important because Maldives’ economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks such as a global recession and climate change-induced natural disasters.

“This report supports the government’s efforts to reduce the risks to public finances and ensure that public money is well spent in order to secure a more resilient and prosperous future for all Maldivians,” said Hon. Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Finance. “It will help us identify where and how public money can be better allocated to achieve the Jazeera Raajje vision, while supporting our ongoing and planned reforms to collect additional revenues.”

The PER identifies key reforms to help Maldives strengthen fiscal sustainability, including raising more revenues – especially from domestic sources – by, for example, reducing the Personal Income Tax threshold and gradually raising both the General and Tourism GST rates. The PER also identifies reforms needed to better manage public debt and guarantees. These include revamping the Fiscal Responsibility Act to include guarantees and more stringent monitoring of fiscal risks from state-owned enterprises.

“The Government of Maldives is already planning many reforms to improve the country’s fiscal health. These include raising GST rates, making public sector wages and pensions more equitable, enacting a Debt Law and revamping the Fiscal Responsibility Act,” said Faris. H. Hadad-Zervos, the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “The World Bank welcomes the recent proposed GST reforms and stands ready to support the Government to implement these and further reforms to achieve a more resilient and prosperous future for all Maldivians.”

Many of the reforms proposed in the PER intend to make the distribution of public spending more equitable. In the housing sector, for example, implementing income-based targeting would help improve the financial viability of the Rent-to-Own program while also promoting home ownership. As for public sector wages, the National Pay Commission could consider consolidating or eliminating most of the allowances that drive inequity and cap the overtime allowance. The new Public Service Pay Framework is a key first step in the right direction but strengthening wage bill controls and other related reforms is also needed to ensure that the reform is successful. Finally, reforms to eliminate ‘double pensions’ in the civil sector and improve the coverage of the pension system are needed to ensure that both current and future retirees can benefit from the generous scheme.

The Public Expenditure Review is a core analytical product of the World Bank which assesses the quality of government spending and identifies key fiscal reforms that countries need to undertake to achieve better growth and development outcomes. This is the first PER for Maldives since 2002.

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