Employee Assistance Programs

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

Employees and their household members may use EAPs 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.

The issues for which EAPs 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.

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