The promotion of the physical and emotional well-being of working people in Canada is a goal of all employers, unions and government. Such well-being enhances the quality of life to all Canadians, as well as promoting productivity and economic growth.
For many reasons, employees may at times require varying degrees of assistance to deal with difficulties which may affect their work performance. In accordance with practices unique to individual organizations across Canada, employers and groups representing employees acknowledge their dual responsibility to furnish reasonable workplace assistance.
All parties agree that Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are a structured, confidential and neutral program by which employees seeking help, assistance and direction may, as required receive assessment, counselling and referral to those services that will be of assistance. The employee may use these services on a voluntary basis.
2. Definition of Terms
EMPLOYER - a private or public sector organization which produces goods and services to the public.
EMPLOYEE - an individual who is eligible to receive EAP services.
GROUPS REPRESENTING EMPLOYEES/UNION - this includes organized labour and other workplace groups or associations representing employees.
EAP PRACTITIONER - may include one or more of the following functions:
1. Administrator or Co-ordinator of Programs: refers to persons executing tasks related to the administration or the co-ordination of an EAP.
2. Referral Agents: individuals who receive the client, orient toward an appropriate resource and assure the follow-up.
3. Professional Counsellor: professional who offers services and is accredited by their respective professional body.
Confidentiality means that all information related to a personal problem, shared first-hand between individuals, remains solely between those individuals.
The EAP will ensure that all clients are assisted in confidence, and that every effort will be made to protect personal anonymity. This anonymity and confidentiality is subject to the appropriate federal and provincial laws which define the conduct of counselors.
In order to give voice to these principles and to establish effective EAPs, specific standards are adopted, based on the following broad objectives:
An EAP must establish a clear, written policy. To ensure that the program responds to employees' needs and reflects the organization's culture, the EAP policy should, as much as possible, be developed jointly by representatives of management, labour and groups representing employees.
Policy must contain the following elements:
* the objectives of an EAP * the definition of eligible employees * the types of services offered * the qualifications of the EAP practitioners * the roles of the different parties * the methods of access to the program * the evaluation and/or audit procedures
The policy establishes the program's approach to anonymity and confidentiality. Should the employee wish to release information to a third party, procedures for informed, voluntary and written consent should be described. In addition, the policy must specify mechanisms to ensure the continuity of services for employees affected by the closure, the sale, the fusion of a company and the change of a counsellor or of the EAP provider. The policy must describe procedures necessary to receive and resolve complaints.
Procedures must be developed to ensure that services are delivered in a confidential manner, respecting the anonymity of the employee. Exceptions shall be based on statutory requirements.
The provisions of the EAP policy and program must be communicated to all individuals eligible to receive service, according to the methods available to the program. Written documentation describing the program must be distributed to all employees.
3.3 Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
Statement of Ethics:
A participating EAP must ensure that its practitioners abide by the following guidelines:
i) No actual or perceived conflict of interest exists; ii) Counsellors or external service providers may not refer clients on the basis of personal gain - financial or otherwise; iii) Practitioners not engage in any sexual conduct with clients, families or significant others; iv) Practitioners not harass or intimidate any client on the basis of sex, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, disability, pardoned conviction, social situation, marital of family status, or on the basis of sexual orientation; v) Procedures are put in place to investigate and resolve, by neutral third parties in any complaint of harassment, intimidation or improper or unethical conduct by practitioners. Such procedures shall include a dispute resolution process; and vi) Practitioners cannot provide services in those areas for which they have not background/experience.
EAP ADMINISTRATOR/CO-ORDINATOR - the EAP Administrator/Co-ordinator needs to have sufficient knowledge about the intervention techniques or be able to acquire the training to gain such knowledge according to the standards and practices in the EAP field.
REFERRAL AGENTS - these persons need to have training, skills and corresponding expertise that would allow them to make initial evaluation, follow-up or referral in the appropriate fields.
COUNSELLORS - qualified EAP counsellors must be members in good standing in professional associations or in provincial professional associations which serve professionals whose purpose is to provide assistance to employees who may experience problems of all sorts.
CODE OF ETHICS - counsellors must abide by the Code of Ethics of their professional association corporation. This code takes precedence over any other internal code or procedures that the company/organization has developed.
3.4 Administration of the EAP & Roles of the Different Parties
The EAP must be administered according to good solid business principles.
EAP ELIGIBILITY - The employer, or in some cases, the union and/or the Joint EAP Committee, will define the eligibility criteria for the EAP; that is, the eligibility of the employees themselves, members of their family and/or retirees. The employer will designate an administrator of the EAP to assure the operation of the program. The administrator is a member of the EAP Committee, where one exists.
GROUPS REPRESENTING EMPLOYEES - Groups representing employees must ensure that all their eligible members receive sufficient information to be in a position to use the EAP. They have to also ensure that their new members receive appropriate information.
They must also encourage their members to use the EAP in those situations where it may be appropriate. Employee groups can also delegate certain responsibilities to their representatives. They have to also ensure that they receive the appropriate training. When appropriate they will delegate a representative to the EAP Committee.
EAP COMMITTEE - Where they exist, EAP Committees are formed of representatives of management and employee groups. The EAP counsellor or representative of the firm that provides EAP services can also participate.
The EAP Committee collaborates in the organization of activities of information, training and promotion which the purpose is to encourage the employees to utilize the EAP service. The Committee furnishes an annual report of its activities to the appropriate company representative(s).
THE PRACTITIONER - The EAP Practitioner who delivers EAP services must submit periodic reports of activities, according to the standards of the EAP Agreement that it has with the company, either to the administrator or tot he EAP Committee. Practitioners who give services for problems of alcohol and other substance abuse problems must have received specialized training and have the necessary experience. A thorough broad-based assessment must be conducted for each EAP case as well as follow-up.
When the practitioner cannot assist the employee to resolve his problem alone, the employee will be oriented towards a professional or other appropriate resource which has been screened and evaluated. The practitioner or the EAP provider must assure that the external resources conform to acceptable norms of competence and professional ethics.
THE EMPLOYEE - The employee who requires EAP services, does so on a voluntary basis.
The employee's colleagues, members of his family, supervisors, employee group representatives or others can suggest to the employee that they may wish to sue the EAP. Notwithstanding, the employee is always free to choose to follow these suggestions.
The employee is actively involved in the planning and counselling process, and no decision is taken without his understanding and agreement.
THE EAP POLICY - An EAP policy for the specific EAP should specify and communicate the role of the EAP practitioner, their minimum training and their EAP practice limits.
4. EAP Characteristics
4.1 Anonymity and Confidentiality The anonymity of clients, the confidentiality of interviews, the maintenance, transfer and destruction of files are subject to the appropriate federal and provincial laws which define the conduct of counsellors. Anonymity and confidentiality are limited according to the existing laws which are already in effect, however, not where it disturbs the basic tenant of confidentiality.
Confidentiality is the cornerstone of an effective EAP. As such, information may be released by the counsellor only in situations where the client has provided signed and informed consent specifying the information to be released and the person(s) to whom it may be released. Confidentiality applies to the client name, the concerns they may have, the agency to which they have been referred, and the treatment and help that they require.
The EAP must be administered completely independent of other programs within an organization. The EAP cannot, in any situation, replace or supersede any other administrative or disciplinary measures of the organization, including in the case of drug testing. The EAP will not be involved in arbitration.
Offices must be situated in locations that are easy to access, organized in a way to protect the anonymity of users and must be accessible to handicapped persons. The hours of operation must be flexible enough to the needs of the handicapped employee.
The services of the EAP must be offered in one or other of the two official languages, according to the wishes of the employee. When the numbers are justified and the resources available, the services must be offered in another language. In the case of disabled persons, an effort must be made to offer the services in alternate media.
A participating EAP must ensure that:
* the program is delivered in a non-discriminatory manner in conformity with the appropriate human rights legislation regulating the organization;
* the program takes into account the diversities of the Canadian workplace by providing cross-cultural ethnic sensitivity training to service providers; and
* the dignity of the client be respected. Specifically, that the client be actively involved in his or her referral and/or treatment and that no decisions be taken for the client without their understanding and consent.
4.6 Supervision Every EAP practitioner who provides client services shall receive consultation and/or supervision on a regular basis.
Whether providing assessment, counselling, interviewing or any other sort of client service, EAP professionals have a potentially profound effect on their clients. As in other professional fields, consultation and supervision are a means to protect the clients' interests, to assure the quality of client services and to improve the EAP professional's skills. Consultation and supervision help reduce isolation and professional burnout.
In conjuction with the following practice guideline, personnel and their employers should be aware of and adhere to the standards of their respective provincial or territorial "Occupational Health and Safety Act" and abide within these guidelines.
Every occupation has its own unique set of safety issues. Employee Assistance personnel are placed in a wide range of practice settings, some of which may be directly or indirectly hazardous or injurious. A proactive approach entails developing an awareness of the different environments within which you are placed and for the employer to be aware of potential risk situations and prepare contingencies should they arise.
1. Each employer should have in place a safety and security policy and manual including procedures for dealing with hig risk verbal and physical abuse situations and the contact number of security personnel.
2. Each employer should have in place a fire procedure policy and all staff(full time, part-time, contract) should be verifed and aware of their responsibilities regarding personal and client safety.
3. Whenever possible there should be two staff members present on site, particularly after regular business hours.
4. On site staff should notify security when working off hours, including evenings and weekends.
5. Off site personnel, when visiting a work site, should inform security of their presence on site, especially when visiting or working outside of regular business hours.
6. A schedule of off hours practice times should be posted so that staff are aware when others are working.
7. A buddy system for staff should be implemented with emphasis placed upon those working outside of regular working hours.
8. All staff should have a secured office and a secured entrance and exit.
9. Employee Assistance personnel should only be required to meet with clients in their home under special circumstances.
10. Employee parking would be well lit and located in a highly visible area. Whenever possible parking should be in a secured lot, especially if it is underground.
11. Staff should have access to a cellular/digital telephone if their responsibilities include travelling to different work sites or office locations.
12. All staff should be covered by their provincial or territorial Workers' Compensation Act for any work-related injury, illness or disabling accident/event.
1. Harrassment is one or a series of unwanted, and/or unsolicited remarks, behaviours or communications in any form based upon a prohibited ground of discrimination, which has the effect of:
a) creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive psychological or emotional climate of work; b) undermining work; and/or, c) preventing or impairing full and equal enjoyment of employment. 2. Each employer should have in place a policy outlining a definition of harassment and the specific procedures for dealing with harassment by clients or other staff members.
1. All new employee orientation should include information on personal safety, fire safety and harassment.
2. A manual should be prepared and distributed to all staff(full time, part-time, contract) outlining the organization's policies and procedures on personal safety, fire safety and harassment.