Employee Assistance Programs – Part 2

continued from last week (read Part 1 of Employee Assistance Programs) … more info about EAPs!

eap-benefits-drug-alcohol-actionDo I Have to Have an EAP?

As a business owner, you do not have to offer employees an EAP. And, if you do offer one to employees, they do not have to use it. Services through an EAP are voluntary – unless there is an employee discipline plan in place that requires an employee to visit with an EAP counselor. Although EAPs are not required, more and more companies are seeing the benefits. Federal agencies provide EAPs to employees, and many other large employers do, too. An EAP doesn’t only assist the employee, but it can also help you know to handle any workplace violence or trauma. It’s not to be used as a bargaining chip or threatening devise, but rather a convenient (and generous) service offered to employees to show them you do care about their mental and emotional health.

What are the Benefits of an EAP?

It might seem like a lot of money initially, especially with rising health care costs. However, many great managers know that employees are the organization’s largest asset. Just look at how workplace wellness has taken off. So, caring for employees won’t only benefit them and their families, but it can improve your business too. Organizations that invest in EAP notice that employees who receive assistance and counseling have less absenteeism, lower health care costs, fewer accidents, more productivity, lower turnover, less stress, more harmonious relationships and more. Just review some of the benefits this EAP provider out of Hawaii have experienced.

Do I Get a Report on my Employee?

Although you are offering and paying for your employees’ EAP, you will not necessarily know that they are using the services. An attractive piece of the EAP for many employees is the fact that it’s voluntary and confidential. However, in the event you have a “Last Chance Agreement” or some other type of discipline arrangement in place for the employee (for example, if you could prove they were using alcohol on the job), you can request to be kept informed of the employee’s progress.

In order to get any updates, the employee will have to sign a release of information for the counselor, authorizing him or her to keep you up-to-date on the nature of the problem, recommended treatment and progress during treatment. Many times in these situations, employees have been referred on to other professionals and treatment centers.

Should I Fire For Drug & Alcohol Use if I Have an EAP In Place?

If you are seeing signs of drug or alcohol use from your employee and have a reasonable suspicion they are misusing substances, you may drug or alcohol test them. Based on this test, you will know what action plan to take. An EAP counselor can guide you along the way.

You have the choice to make your workplace either “zero tolerance” or “last chance.” If you implement a “last chance” policy, you should direct your employees to the EAP where they should receive help. (In DOT industries, there is a different protocol that involves meeting with a Substance Abuse Professional and a strict regimen of follow-up testing and meetings until work can be resumed.) As an employer you can ask the employee to sign a release to keep you informed of the progress (which is in their best interest if they want to keep the job), and determine future actions based on their performance.

Your choice on whether to keep or dismiss an employee should be based on your workplace environment, safety concerns, productivity and what’s best for your bottom line, your clients and other employees.

That sums up our overview about EAPs.

Just leave a comment if you ever have any questions…

especially how to handle substance abuse in the workplace.


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