Monday, April 22, 2013

Can You Say to An Employee: Don't Worry Nothing About EAP Attendance Goes in a Personnel File?

As EAPs get more "morphed" into insurance programs, I am discovering that many EA professionals can't answer the question definitively about whether the host organization has a strict policy of not mentioning in any personnel record ever whether an employee participated in an EAP program. The most common reasons employees hesitate to visit an EAPs are fear of the unknown, being asked personal questions, and confidentiality concerns. Even an outstanding EAP with solid communication strategies and excellent internal relationships will from time to time need to surmount the fear employees have about confidentiality. It should be standard practice to have no personnel records reflect participation in the EAP and organizations should hold themselves accountable in this regard, if not legally liable to underscore the importance. No EAP is worth a hoot without being able to assure employees of this provision and point to it in a company EAP policy in the employee handbook. Can you do that with your organization or every organization you serve if you are an EAP provider? This would be an easy question to answer 30 years ago. Now, it appears many EA professional aren't too sure. Since many EAPs are external providers or far removed from policy development (unlike yesteryear) they may not have the slightest ability to intervene with this issue. If you want to have the most at-risk employees never come to the EAP, make sure everyone knows that personnel records may or may not, depending on circumstances, possibly contain a record that an employee participated in the EAP.