Q. What is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
A. The purpose of EAP is to assist employees, whose personal problems have the potential to affect their job performance, to become fully productive employees. EAP is also designed for use by supervisors as an alternative or adjunct to disciplinary action to assist troubled employees to return to an acceptable level of productivity.
Q. What is the history of the EAP?
A. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) began operating in the Department of Personnel as the Employee Advisory Service (EAS) in January, 1972. In 1990 EAP was established by statute (41.04 RCW Sections 700-730). In 2005, the name was changed to the Washington State Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Q. Who can use the services of the EAP?
A. All state employees and many other contracting governmental entities. The EAP is also available for family members.
Q. Are there fees involved?
A. No. EAP services are no charge.
Q. Will anyone know I used the program?
A. No, except for certain state and federal laws of confidentiality the program is absolutely confidential. However, if your supervisor has referred you due to work performance problems, we are required to let your supervisor know you came in.
Q. What kinds of personal problems can I bring to EAP?
A. People problems. EAP helps employees with personal problems that have the potential to interfere with their ability to do their job. The EAP can also work with your family members as their problems could also impact the employee. EAP can help with a wide range of issues including but not limited to:
- Marital or relationship issues
- Parenting issues
- Grief & loss
- Coping with change
- Workplace issues
Q. Why does the state have this program?
A. Employees are the state’s most valuable resource. Workers personal problems cost the employer in time missed from work, in reduced effectiveness, and in excessive supervisory time spent trying to cope with the resulting job problems. Getting expert help to assist workers solve their personal problems is good business.
Q. What if my supervisor is part of my problem?
A. Remember EAP is a confidential service. If your supervisor is part of your problem, what better or safer place could there be to go? Your contact with EAP could assist you in resolving issues between you and your supervisor.
Q. Does EAP help supervisors too?
A. Yes. Supervisors are employees, too. Many EAP clients are supervisors and managers who seek confidential help for supervisory issues in addition to personal problems.
Q. Am I required to follow EAP recommendations?
A. It’s up to you. Our goal is to offer you the best recommendations we can. In the final analysis, you are the one who is responsible for working out the solution to your problem. Only you can decide which option(s) you choose to follow.
Q. Will my state health insurance program cover the cost of treating my personal problems?
A. Many problems are covered, at least in part, by the state’s medical insurance plans. For the exact amount of coverage these plans provide, consult the schedule of benefits published by the Health Care Authority or contact EAP.
Q. Can I contact EAP on state time?
A. EAP encourages agencies to grant state time for employees to receive an assessment from EAP. Agency policies, Labor Agreements, and non-represented employee rules may vary so check with your Human Resource Office or Labor Representative on using paid leave for assessment at EAP. You may use your own time, vacation leave, or sick leave if you choose not to involve your supervisor.
Q. How do I know EAP can help me?
A. You can’t be 100% sure about anything, but thousands of state employees have brought their problems to EAP and most of them believe they have been helped. One thing is certain; most personal problems don’t get any better by being ignored, denied, or stoically endured. EAP can be the first step toward meaningful change.
Q. Is my visit confidential?
A. Yes, your visit to EAP is confidential. However, there are certain state and federal laws that provide for these exceptions:
- Abuse of a minor child
- Abuse of an elderly person
- Abuse of a disabled person
- Threats to self or others
- Threats to state property
If any of the above are disclosed, the EA Professionals have the responsibility to report this information to the appropriate authority.
The other exception (RCW 41.04.730) is if your supervisor/HR directly refers you to EAP priorto your initial contact with EAP for work performance issues. EAP is required to let your supervisor know:
- Whether or not the referred employee made an appointment
- The date and time the employee arrived and departed
- Whether the employee agreed to follow the advice of the counselors; and
- Whether further appointments were scheduled
Participation or non-participation in EAP is voluntary and cannot be used in any decision affecting an employee’s job security, promotional opportunities, corrective or disciplinary action, or other employee rights.