EAP confidentiality

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Health Assured team

26 May 2021

More and more businesses are offering employee assistance programmes to smooth over day-to-day troubles.

A 24/7, 365 helpline to call for legal information, wellbeing advice and even structured counselling sounds great—in theory.

But counselling often means going deep into serious personal issues, which you might not want anyone to know about.

So, can you trust an EAP? Is EAP really confidential? We take a look at employee assistance program confidentiality below.

Is an EAP confidential?

The short, easy answer: yes.

Employee assistance programmes are built entirely on a platform of trust. Employers know this, and employees can rest assured that anything they may say during even the first call to an EAP will go no further than the advisor they speak to.

Employers can’t even tell that a person has called the helpline. While reporting, analytics and usage information are available to an organisation paying for an EAP, the data is completely anonymised. All an employer can see is the amount of usage, and not the reason for calling—or the names of those who called.

This data is provided so as to show a good return on investment (as much as £1871 per employee per year with Health Assured), not as a means of ‘spying on’ employees. 

An EAP, after all, is supposed to be entirely voluntary, a means by which employees can proactively seek help to reduce their own stressors. Employee assistance programme confidentiality is a necessary part of this.

You might see some statistics from an EAP provider along the lines of ‘21% of calls in a 12-month period were related to stress, anxiety or depression,’ and this might worry some people into thinking that the subject of their call is being shared. Don’t worry—this, again, is completely anonymised.

What about referrals?

The discussions an employee holds with an advisor or counsellor, even after that employee has been referred to the service, are completely confidential. While an employer will know whether or not an employee referred to the service has called or not, they won’t know anything about the call itself.

Do I need an EAP confidentiality policy?

Not really. As we say, employee assistance programmes are necessarily confidential—privacy laws and ethics dictate this.

When you take out an EAP, it’s a good idea to communicate clearly and effectively about what the service is and how it can be used. You’ll receive a welcome pack, which will contain guides and materials that will help with this.

It’s very important that you tell your people about the service, what it is, and how it can help. There’ll naturally be a little suspicion. Employees are people first and foremost and will worry that divulging personal issues to an EAP will somehow come back to haunt them.

Business leaders should be seen to stress the importance of using the EAP to lessen stressors and proactively improve mental health. Sharing your own stories can be a great help, here.

Are there any exceptions to confidentiality?

As is standard in therapy and counselling, exceptions to EAP confidentiality can arise. These are only in very serious cases, usually where there is considered to be an imminent threat to life or the potential for serious harm.

Looking for a proactive, confidential way to boost your people’s wellbeing? Health Assured are here to help. Call us today to discuss how an employee assistance programme reduces stress and depression, eases absenteeism and boosts your return-to-work rates—with an impressive return on investment.

Get help from Health Assured whilst working from home.

It is your responsibility to look after your employee’s wellbeing at work. If you don’t, you could face legal consequences, see your best employees leave, and experience decreased productivity.

Wellbeing resources, such as an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) or our Wisdom App, can support your employee’s wellbeing and keep productivity high.

Want to find out more? Book a free consultation with one of our Corporate Wellbeing Consultants. Call 0844 891 0352 for ideas on promoting health and wellbeing at work.

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