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Employee Assistance

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) are employee service programs offered by many employers, typically in conjunction with a health insurance plan. EAP’s are intended to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health, and well-being. EAP’s generally include assessment, short-term counseling and referral services for employees and their household members.

Employees and their household members may use EAP’s to help manage issues that could adversely impact their work and personal lives. EAP counselors typically provide assessment, support, and if needed, referrals to additional resources. These programs are becoming increasingly more common in today’s worksites, and as the field grows, the responsibilities of employee assistance professionals are expanding as well. But many EAP experts have expressed deep concern over the numerous ethical and quality issues existing in the field today. The issues for which EAP’s provide support vary, but examples include

  • substance abuse
  • safe working environment
  • emotional distress
  • major life events, including births, accidents and deaths
  • health care concerns
  • financial or legal concerns
  • family/personal relationship issues
  • work relationship issues
  • concerns about aging parents

An EAP’s services are usually free to the employee or household member, having been pre-paid by the employer. In many cases, an employer contracts with a third-party company to manage its EAP. Many of these firms rely upon resources from skilled vendors of specialized products to supplement their services. Confidentiality is maintained in accordance with privacy laws and professional ethical standards. Employers usually do not know who is using their employee assistance programs, unless there are extenuating circumstances and the proper release forms have been signed.

In some circumstances, an employee may be advised by management to seek EAP assistance due to job performance or behavioral problems. This practice has been thought to raise concerns for some, who believe that the EAP may place the employer’s interests above the health and well-being of the employee. However, when done properly and with a highly qualified vendor, both the employer and the employee benefit. In fact, the goal of these supervisory referrals is to help the employee retain their job and get assistance for any problems or issues that may be impacting their performance. And, most importantly, any referrals for job performance issues or concerns are always confidential.

For more information, contact Employee Business Solutions, Inc.


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