870 Employee Assistance Program

871 Introduction

871.1 Purpose

871.11 General

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a formal, voluntary, non-disciplinary program designed to assist employees and their immediate families in their efforts to resolve personal issues that may impact adversely on work performance, personal well-being, or both. Issues may include, but are not limited to: (a) substance abuse; (b) mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress; and (c) issues that involve family, marital, financial, and legal concerns. Assistance is provided through consultation, evaluation, counseling, and referral to community resources and treatment facilities.

871.12 Substance Abuse, Dependence, and Other Addictions

Substance abuse, dependence, and other addictions are serious health problems that can adversely affect an employee’s job performance and personal life. The EAP continues the Postal Service’s obligation under its collective bargaining agreements to provide a program for employees with these problems. EAP is not intended to alter or amend any of the rights or responsibilities of the Postal Service or its employees.

871.2 Definitions

Special terms used in this subchapter include the following:

  1. EAP counselor external EAP counselors must have: (1) a master’s or doctorate degree from an accredited college or university recognized by the relevant professional association in a clinical mental health field; and (2) a current state license or state certification to practice as a mental health practitioner. External EAP counselors must also meet any other requirements of the relevant interagency agreement or contract.
  2. Note: These requirements do not uniformly apply to the Joint Committee Employee Assistance Programs using internal counselors (see Occupation Codes 01804018, 01804019, and 01804020).

  3. External EAP service provider an individual or group external to the Postal Service that provides EAP services through an interagency agreement or on a contractual basis.
  4. Family member any legal dependent of the employee, or anyone living in the employee’s household, with the exception of tenants or employees of the Postal Service employee who live in the household.
  5. Internal EAP an employee assistance program whose counselors are employed by the Postal Service.
  6. Management referral the referral of an employee to EAP by a supervisor or manager because the manager notices behavior that may indicate work performance issues or personal problems.
  7. Other addictions not addiction to drugs or alcohol, but addictive behaviors that may include excessive gambling, eating, and Internet use as well as hypersexuality.
  8. Other problems problems such as depression, anxiety, gambling, and stress as well as emotional, family, marital, financial, and legal problems.
  9. Self-initiated referral an employee’s voluntary referral of him- or herself for assistance from EAP, made by directly contacting an EAP counselor.
  10. Substance abuse the excessive use of a substance, especially alcohol or a drug, that results in recurring negative life consequences, such as (1) interpersonal conflicts; (2) failure to meet work, family, or school responsibilities; or (3) legal problems.
  11. Substance dependence commonly referred to as an addiction, it is characterized by: (1) a need for increasing amounts of a substance to maintain desired effects; (2) withdrawal symptoms if drug-taking stops; and (3) preoccupation with activities related to substance use.

871.3 Policy

871.31 Job Security

Participation in EAP is voluntary and will not jeopardize the employee’s job security or promotional opportunities.

871.32 Limits to Protection

Although an employee’s voluntary participation in EAP counseling should be given favorable consideration in disciplinary action, participation in EAP does not limit management’s right to proceed with any contemplated disciplinary action for failure to meet acceptable standards of work performance, attendance, or conduct. Participation in EAP does not shield an employee from discipline or from prosecution for criminal activities.

871.33 Confidentiality

Inquiries regarding participation in EAP counseling are confidential, pursuant to the provisions of 874.4. EAP records may not be placed in an employee’s official personnel folder (OPF).

871.34 Reasonable Access

The contractor providing counseling must endeavor to provide confidential counseling facilities within a reasonable driving distance from the employee’s work site or home, in accordance with the following guidelines:

  1. The Postal Service will provide office space and furnishings for those sites that require counselors to be in postal locations.
  2. Providing ready accessibility to face-to-face EAP counseling is desirable, but may not always be possible. Counselors may offer telephone counseling or request that the employee travel to the counselor’s office.
  3. Reasonable hours and days, including coverage of all three tours, will be set by mutual agreement between the EAP consultant and the Human Resources manager.
  4. Counselors may adjust their schedules to respond to crisis situations and to meet other needs, such as providing information sessions and visiting facilities.
871.35 Scheduling

The following guidelines apply to scheduling and whether EAP sessions take place on or off the clock:

  1. An employee’s first visit to EAP is on the clock, whether the visit is initiated by management, the union representative, or the employee (unless the employee prefers to visit the EAP unit on his or her own time).
  2. Subsequent consultations are on the employee’s own time.
  3. If a reasonable period of time has elapsed since a management referral or a previously disclosed self-referral, the manager or supervisor may, on a case-by-case basis, approve an additional on-the-clock session.
  4. To receive pay for an on-the-clock session, the employee must authorize the EAP provider to disclose his or her attendance to management.