FAQS – Employee Assistance Programmes

Both employers and employees often have questions relating to Employee Assistance Programmes and below are some of those which are most commonly asked. As always, for our best assistance, advice and service, please give our team a call on 0116 366 6866 or use the form to request a call back.

See our main page on Employee Assistance Programmes

What is an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counselling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. EAPs address a broad and complex range of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders. Many EAPs are active in helping organizations prevent and cope with workplace violence, trauma, and other emergency response situations.

Why do employers need an EAP?

An EAP makes good business sense because it promotes a healthy work environment which, in turn, helps increase employee productivity. An EAP’s fact and practical advice can help employees resolve problems before they interfere with daily life. Consider this:

25 % or more of a troubled employee’s salary may be lost in absence, low productivity and medical expenses.

Employees with substance abuse problems are almost four times more likely to file a compensation claim.

Employees who use drugs are twice as likely to have absences of eight days or more and are three times more likely to be late for work.

Where can employers get more information and advice?

The UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association (UK EAPA) represents professionals involved with employee assistance, psychological health and wellbeing in the UK. Its website is www.eapa.org.uk.

What are the costs involved for the employer?

Costs vary depending on the breadth of the service and the number of employees covered, but figures from the EAPA show that a full-service EAP for an employer with 100 staff costs about £14 a year per employee.

Who may use the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

In general, all employees and members of their household are eligible to use a company’s EAP services, as often when one family member is experiencing some difficulties, it affects other family members as well.

What types of problems are seen through the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

Although you may call for any type of concern or problem, there are some issues that are handled more frequently through the EAP. The most common problems include:

  • Problems with a supervisor or co-worker
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Grief and bereavement
  • Family, marriage and other relationship issues
  • Domestic violence
  • Addictions (drug, alcohol, sexual, gambling, shopping, internet etc.)
  • Eating disorders
  • Child and adolescent issues
  • Child-parent problems
  • Stress-related illness
  • Coping with chronic illness
  • Financial problems

When should I use the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

You should consider using the EAP when your own efforts at resolving problems are not working, you feel overwhelmed, or you want to prevent problems from becoming larger. The EAP also offers helpful support with childcare, eldercare, financial, legal issues and other day-to-day challenges you may face.

The EAP is not only there for people in crisis. Consider accessing services any time you want to improve your overall health and well-being.

When are Employee Assistance Programme Appointments available?

Daytime and evening counselling hours are usually available on weekdays or weekends, usually during lunch, and before and after most shifts to accommodate your work schedule. In some cases, a company will allow visits during work hours when appropriate. You can request your preference when you contact your EAP provider.

Are there any tax implications?

As long as an EAP satisfies HM Revenue and Customs’ definition of welfare counselling, it is regarded as a business expense rather than a benefit in kind. This means it cannot provide advice on areas such as finance, other than debt, tax, leisure or recreation and legal issues, or provide services directly to dependants unless relating to an issue being faced by an employee.

If I go to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for help, will my manager/boss find out?

Information about your discussions with the EAP cannot be disclosed without your permission. There are regulations that require confidentiality, and they provide penalties for unlawful or unauthorised release of information. There may be instances where it will be in an employee’s best interests to sign a release of information, e.g., when an employee is seeking accommodation for a certain physical or emotional problem. Another example might be when an employee is involved in a potential disciplinary situation and wishes to show management his or her sincerity in seeking assistance with the problem. Based on this information regarding an employee’s involvement in the EAP, a supervisor might decide to hold any disciplinary action pending a positive change in the employee’s performance or conduct.

How much will the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) cost me?

There is usually no cost to employees who receive counselling and other services provided by the EAP. Costs for outside treatment and professional services, which can result in personal expense, may be covered by your Employee Health Benefits plan or private medical insurance. The EAP counsellor will work with you to identify the best available treatment program and services in line with your individual finances.

Is the Employee Assistance Programme available out of business hours?

There may be times when you need to speak with a counsellor immediately. If it is after normal business hours, and you have an urgent need, you can usually get in contact with your EAP provider’s answering service, who will then contact the on-call EAP counsellor, who will return your call and provide immediate assistance.

What happens at the first Employee Assistance Programme appointment?

When you arrive at your first appointment, you will be asked to sign a Statement of Understanding, to fill out a pre-screen survey and a client intake form.

These forms allow the counsellor to gather important information and allows you the time to focus on the issues of most importance to you when you meet with your counsellor.

EAP provides counselling for a variety of issues that can be handled within a brief time frame. While some issues brought to EAP can be addressed within a few sessions, other issues are more complicated or longstanding, and cannot be handled within the scope of EAP. If you have an issue that may take longer to address, it is important to start with a counsellor who can continue working with you until the issue is resolved – rather than begin with one counsellor and then begin again with a long-term therapy provider, once your sessions end. If your issue cannot be handled within the EAP, your counsellor will make recommendations for resources that can assist you.

Does using the Employee Assistance Programme effect my employment/medical record?

No record of your contact with EAP will be disclosed without your written consent.

If your job performance is significantly affected, your supervisor may recommend EAP to you as a resource for you to use to resolve any personal or work-related problems that may have negatively impacted your performance. The goal is always to improve your personal well-being and work performance.

It goes without saying, information may be disclosed as required by law and/or professional code of ethics if there are serious concerns about safety.

As a new employee, is there a waiting period before I can use Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

No. Usually, there is no waiting period before you can use EAP services.

As a part-time employee. Can I use EAP?

Yes. All employees, regardless of how many hours worked, may utilise the EAP.

Where do I see my EAP counsellor?

Once you have made an appointment, you will usually see an EAP counsellor at their practice. The counsellor does not usually come to your home or place of work.

What information will be recorded about me if I use the EAP?

Every time you contact the EAP, EAP Consultants keeps a confidential record similar to the way your GP maintains a record of any personal details, problems and treatment. These records are not disclosed outside EAP Consultants unless you expressly wish for that to be the case, and you give your written consent.

Does the EAP have any involvement in disciplinary actions?

No. The Employee Assistance Programme has no responsibility for disciplinary actions. This does not mean that you cannot use the EAP if you are feeling very anxious or distressed about a disciplinary action. Sometimes counselling can help you see your options more clearly and resolve anxieties.

What qualifications do the EAP Counsellors have?

Usually EAP counsellors have a master’s degree/license in either Mental Health Counselling, Marriage and Family Therapy, or Social Work. Some staff are also Certified Employee Assistance Professionals.

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