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What is an EAP?

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a work site-based program designed to assist in the identification and resolution of productivity problems associated with employees impaired by personal concerns, including but not limited to health, marital, family, financial, alcohol, drug, legal, emotional, stress, or other personal concerns that might interfere with work.

There are two kinds of EAP's.

An internal EAP is an in-house services, staffed by company employees. An external EAP is a specialty service provider hired by the employer. Internal EAP's tend to be more costly than external EAP's, but are sometimes preferred by employers because services can be more precisely tailored to the employer's needs.

  • A survey of Workplace drug abuse programs found that about 47% were internal and 40% were externally contracted services.
  • The median annual EAP cost per employee, which varied by region of the country, was $21.83 for internal programs and $18.09 for external programs in a select sample study.
Who has an EAP?
  • 33% of all nonpublic work sites have an assistance program, serving more than 55% of all employees in U.S.> work sites with 50 or more employees in 1993.
  • In 1991, a national survey indicated that 45% of full time employees had access to an EAP provided by their employer.
  • Work site size is related to the prevalence of EAP programs; 21% of the smallest firms (50-99 employees) have an EAP, and 76% of the largest firms (1,000+ employees) have an EAP. The prevalence of EAP's in highest in communications, utilities, and transportation, at about 52%, where as mining, construction, and service industries have the lowest prevalence, at about 25%. The higher rate among the former may be due to Federal regulations for drug testing and education.
Potential savings from EAP's:
  • Potential savings per employee because of lower recruitment and training costs, lower workers' compensation costs, and fewer on the job accidents
  • Potential reduction in inpatient substance abuse treatment costs after EAP implementation.
  • Potential reduction of absenteeism and workers' compensation insurance costs
  • Cost-effectiveness data on EAP's generally indicate a savings due to fewer days missed form work, lower turnover, and lower medical claims of employees, spouses, and dependents
  • Potential savings in reduced health insurance claims, as EAP services are accessed first
  • Potential savings in reduced turnover and increased productivity.
  • Potential savings for employees to access licensed professionals
  • According to an article in the June 1998 issue of Nation’s Business, “A US Department of Labor Study found that for every dollar an employer invests in an EAP, it saves $5 to $16.

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