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News Items, by Subject

Employee assistance plans (EAPs)

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[Guidance Overview] Text of Treasury Department Priority Guidance Plan, 2013-2014 4th Quarter Update (PDF)
Starting on page 4 are 45 items relating to Retirement Benefits, followed by 31 items for Executive Compensation, Health Care and Other Benefits, and Employment Taxes. (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
EAP Programs Escape the ACA Market Reforms, at Least for Now
"It appears that the Departments want to preserve an employee's eligibility for premium tax credits ... if an EAP is the only benefit offered to the employee by his or her employer (or the only affordable benefit).... If an employer offers nothing but an EAP and that EAP is not an excepted benefit, it could be considered [minimum essential coverage (MEC)]. On the flip side, it is unclear if an EAP could satisfy the minimum value requirement of the MEC offered by a large employer, under the Employer Mandate." (Hill, Chesson & Woody)
Employers Face Obstacles in Helping Employees With Mental Health Problems
"While most employers offer employee assistance programs [EAPs], the services continue to be under-used by workers due to the stigma mental illness carries. Creating a workplace culture that reduces that stigma and allows employees to seek help for mental health problems will greatly benefit both the employees in need of EAP services and their organization[.]" (Bloomberg BNA)
Where to Get Social Security Help
Good article for use in helping employees with financial planning; includes several hypertext links to federal resources. "Many financial advisers have expertise in Social Security rules, including some who once worked at the Social Security Administration. Many are fee-based, like accountants, or provide the help as part of their financial planning or wealth-management practice. There also are some sophisticated online tools that let people crunch their own numbers under various scenarios." (The Wall Street Journal, by Ellen E. Shultz)
Employee Assistance Programs Now Cover Host of Issues and Problems
"An employee assistance program is an employee benefit. EAP services can reduce tardiness and absences. The services can also help to change behaviors to reduce accidents, health care claims and worker disputes. Long ago, EAPs focused on drug- and alcohol-abuse problems. Now, the scope of services is much broader." (The Commercial Appeal)
Studies on a $6 Billion a Year Problem for Business: Intimate Partner Violence
"Every year, intimate partner violence costs an estimated $18 million in earnings for victims and an additional $6 billion in direct costs to business. Employers use various workplace strategies to address this issue, including EAPs, training programs, and/or educational campaigns. However, little research has been conducted on the effectiveness and costs of these interventions." (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
Dealing with Depression Difficult in Workplace
"'Stress and depression are very hot issues with employers,' said Christine Wilson, chief executive of the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care, which in 2000 began an initiative with a couple dozen large employers to understand and deal with depression." (The Kansas City Star)
Employers Offer Group Legal Plans As Additional Supportive Benefit
"[A new survey] shows employees who have group legal plans took four less weeks to resolve their legal matter, took less time off work and were not as stressed." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
Employers Offer Spiritual Guidance Under Employee Assistance Programs
"According to one survey of more than 600 employees at Regal Marine, a boat building company, the chaplain's care program was cited as the #1 benefit." (CBS Interactive)
International Employee Assistance Programs: The Forgotten Benefit
"Expatriates need a lifeline, and employers who arrange for this, are often more successful in helping their expatriates carry out the job. So how can you accomplish this? The easiest way is to set up an international Employee Assistance Program . . . ." (William Gallagher Associates Insurance Brokers, Inc.)
Health, Wellness, and Employee Assistance: A Holistic Approach to Employee Benefits
"Employer-sponsored wellness programs that include help with nutrition, incentives to exercise, or smoking cessation are available to a third of private sector workers. Almost half of private sector workers have access to an employee assistance plan (EAP), which provides psychological counseling or referral services." (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Maximize Benefits ROI by Coordinating EAP and Work-Life Programs
"Today, it's not uncommon for an employer to offer more than 10 independent employee benefit packages. The problem is that engagement in ancillary benefits tends to be low. Employees may not know how to access them or even that they exist, due to the complexity and inconvenience of having to access each benefit separately." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
[Guidance Overview] FMLA and ADA Not Involved in Dismissal for Violation of Work Rules and EAP Policies
"Failure to adhere to the policy of the Home Depot Employee Assistance Program . . . and violating work rules by working under the influence of alcohol were reasons for an employee's dismissal . . . ." (Wolters Kluwer)
[Guidance Overview] 2010 Tax Relief Act Extends Various Benefits, Including Higher Transit/Vanpool Limit, Adoption, and Education Assistance
Excerpt: "Uncertainty regarding the amount or availability of these benefits and credits has presented challenges for employers, some of whom may have already planned their benefits for next year on the assumption that these extensions would not occur. Enactment of the 2010 Tax Relief Act may now lead those employers to reconsider their benefit levels, and will likely require many employers offering these benefits to make changes to their benefit summaries and other employee communications." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)
Some Companies Repositioning Their EAP Programs, Using Them to Better Support Wellness Efforts and to Offset Mental Health Treatment Costs
Excerpt: "To maximize their EAP investment, some employers have taken steps to better promote their programs, along with boosting the number of annual sessions covered from the once typical three to as many as six, and sometimes even more at some companies . . . ." (Workplace Management: free registration required)
Employers Should Consider Ways to Mitigate Stressors for Workers in Lower Socio-Economic Groups
Excerpt: "Employers also might want to put a greater focus on the economic stressors that low-income individuals face, the research suggests. The findings speak to the importance of addressing factors that are more common to those in a lower social class and could lead to a lower level of satisfaction at work, such as the lack of transportation or the availability and affordability of childcare." (Human Resource Executive Online)
Chaplains Bring Spiritual Aspect to Workplace
Excerpt: "Corporate Chaplains of America, a Christian non-denominational counseling service based in Raleigh, N.C., provides chaplain service as a workplace benefit." (Sun Sentinel via The Kansas City Star)
Chaplains at Work Help Employees Handle Stress
Excerpt: "About 20 South Florida companies offer a chaplain service as a benefit through Corporate Chaplains of America, a Christian non-denominational counseling service based in Raleigh, N.C. The chaplains can assist with stressful situations that affect workers, including divorce, financial problems, and lately, home loan modifications and foreclosures." (Orlando Sentinel)
Companies Adding End-of-Life Support Services to Their Life-Event Employee Programs
Excerpt: "With more baby boomers either caring for parents who are nearing death or suffering from life-ending diseases themselves, HR has a mounting responsibility to help workers make those final plans. Issues include wills, advanced directives about medical treatment, financial advice and grief counseling." (Human Resource Executive Online)
EAPs As Core Health Management Strategic Element
Excerpt: "Shifting market forces, a challenging economy and the needs of a constantly changing workforce have broadened the scope and depth of employee assistance programs over the last several years. The days of an EAP being a benign benefit that sits in the corner and waits for utilization are over. Today, companies are aware that the advantages of an EAP that extend well beyond assistance for alcohol-related problems. An effective EAP should be a core component of a company's population health management strategy. By capitalizing on integration with an organization's other employee benefits, an EAP can have a positive impact on a company's productivity, efficiency, well-being and health care spend." (Employee Benefit Adviser; free registration required)
Many Employees Fear Seeking Treatment for Mental-Health Issues
Excerpt: "Employees with mental- or physical-health issues have always worried about keeping their jobs. But with a recession raging, a recent study from Arlington, Va.-based American Psychiatric Association concludes those concerns may be heightened. Concerns about losing status at work and about confidentiality are among the main reasons many American workers are more hesitant to seek treatment for mental-health issues than for physical-health problems, according to the study." (Human Resource Executive Online)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Issues 2009 Version of Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Qualified educational assistance programs allow employers to provide assistance to employees for a broad range of educational expenses, including expenses for graduate-level courses and for courses that are not job-related (subject to certain limitations). Under Code Section 127, amounts paid or incurred by an employer under such programs are deductible by the employer and are excludable from the employees' taxable income." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)
Some EAPs Find That Online Therapy Clicks With Clients
Excerpt: "Internet-based counseling and behavioral health services are finding their way into company employee assistance programs alongside in-person and telephone-based therapies. The services use a variety of Internet-related platforms, including e-mail, instant messaging, live chat and, in some cases, Skype video calls or other Internet-based videoconferencing." (Workforce Management; free registration required)
A New Measure of EAP Success
Excerpt: "At the very core of any EAP is the understanding that employees with behavioral health and emotional well-being issues are as likely to struggle in their jobs as well as in their homes. Contemporary EAPs, however, have focused on being in the counseling business rather than in the business of improving workplace productivity using behavioral health expertise." (Society for Human Resource Management)
Employee Assistance Group Releases EAP Guide
Excerpt: "The Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA) has released a review of the nature and value of employee assistance programs (EAP). A news release from the Arlington, Virginia-based EASNA said the report, 'Selecting and Strengthening Employee Assistance Programs: A Purchaser's Guide,' provides education, guidelines, data, and inside information on employee assistance programs (EAPs). It reviews the benefits of having an EAP, lists what to look for and consider when choosing an EAP provider, cites ways to evaluate your current EAP, and discusses how to get the most out of an EAP program." (; free registration required)
Do 'Free' EAPs Offer Value? It Depends Who You Ask
Excerpt: "There has been a clear trend in recent years for health insurance companies, disability carriers, group retirement plans and payroll management organizations to bundle employee assistance program services into their core products and offer the EAP as 'free.' Under this arrangement, an insurance plan buys an inexpensive EAP from a vendor partner or provides an EAP within an affiliated division, then embeds the EAP in the plan to create product distinction and a competitive advantage." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
[Opinion] Kilpatrick Stockton Comments Regarding the Application of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (PDF)
5 pages. The letter addresses the use of employee assistance programs. (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)
[Opinion] Text of Law Firm's Comments to DOL and IRS on Treatment of Employee Assistance Programs Under Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "I . . . recommend that for purposes of MHPAEA compliance you do not require that the EAP be aggregated with the employer's traditional group health plan providing medical and mental health benefits. . . . [and] that you allow employers the option of requiring its employees to use the EAP first for those services covered by the EAP (i.e., outpatient counseling) before the employee can use the mental health services covered by the employer's traditional group health plan." (Kilpatrick Stockton LLP)
An Employer's Guide to Employee Assistance Programs: Recommendations for Strategically Defining, Integrating, and Measuring Employee Assistance Programs (PDF)
40 pages. Excerpt: "This report is designed to help employers realize the strategic value of an employee assistance program and to acknowledge the contributions EAPs make in helping organizations achieve their business goals. The recommendations contained in this report will help employers identify key attributes of a high-performing employee assistance program, and if adopted, will protect their human capital investment by improving the health of all employees and dependents." (National Business Group on Health)
EAPs Can Help Stressed-Out Workers, But They Are Not Miracle Benefits
Excerpt: "One problem is that many people, both employers and employees, have an antiquated impression of EAPs. 'In many cases people still tend to equate the EAP with its original intention 30 years ago, which was really put in place to help organizations with substance abuse issues and things like that,' . . . . The intervening decades have seen the programs expand. Just like any benefit, the key to making sure workers know about it and use it is communication." (Employee Benefit Adviser; Registration may be required)
Employee Assistance Programs for a New Generation of Employees (PDF)
4 pages. Excerpt: "For decades, EAPs have demonstrated their value, both to the individuals whose lives they have improved and to the employers and work organizations that benefit from having healthy workers. As Millennial generation adults enter the workplace, they bring with them an array of unique personal concerns as well as some of the same mental health and substance use issues that employ-ers have been addressing for many years. By developing new strategies and resources, and by strengthening partnerships and linkages with work/life, human resources, health and wellness, absence and disability management, and accommodation efforts, EAPs will be even more effective in assisting this new generation in becoming productive workers in the 21st Century workplace." (U.S. Department of Labor)
The EAP: A Corporate Perk for a Stressful Time
Excerpt: "AS more workers lose their jobs, many are gaining a host of unforeseen problems in exchange. Beyond the obvious financial consequences, a layoff can result in psychological, emotional and even physical difficulties, and the impact may extend to families and former co-workers. A widely available but often ignored corporate perk -- the employee assistance program -- can help workers who are suddenly facing a layoff, as well as those who worry that the same fate will befall them." (The New York Times; free registration required)
Employee Assistance Programs Incorporate Large Range of Offerings - Including Legal, Financial, Wellness and Stress Issues
Excerpt: "The EAP of the 21st century, when effectively implemented, is not merely the referral service of the past, but rather a start-to-finish case management and return-to-work program for employees suffering from critical issues like depression and disability." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
Employee Assistance Programs Can Combat the Negative Side Effects of Financial Problems
Excerpt: "In the last year, EAP programs have begun to see an increase in the volume of calls related to stress, depression and other work-life challenges. After talking through issues with an EAP professional, many of these individuals specify that financial challenges are a contributing factor to their underlying problems." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
More Employers Help Workers Deal with Legal Problems
Excerpt: "The number of large companies offering group legal plans rose to 33% in 2007, a 6% increase from 2006, according to the study [by work/life services provider Workplace Options]." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
Employee-Assistance Providers Are Seeing a Spike from Callers in Financial and Legal Distress
Excerpt: "The financial distress felt by some employees is also showing up in reduced employee morale and performance, according to experts." (Human Resource Executive Online)
Benefits to Protect— and Add— During Economic Downturns
Excerpt: "There are five employee benefits that should be protected during down times, and they have one thing in common: personal accountability. These benefits use company resources to provide long-term advantages to both the organization and the employee – but only if the employee is willing to meet the organizational investment with his or her own efforts." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
Web Resource Helps United Services Automobile Association Employees Help Themselves
Excerpt: "The Personal Balance Tool (PBT), developed in 2006 by USAA, Harris, Rothenberg International (HRI) and ValueOptions, is a web resource that more than half of USAA employees use to address a variety of personal concerns that will impact their work life." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
Company Steps Up to Help Laid-Off Workers
Excerpt: "It's hard to imagine how laying off 20 percent of your workforce can turn into positive publicity, but that's what has happened to Mobility Electronics Inc. The small Scottsdale Airpark company was featured in the Wall Street Journal last month in a story on how more companies are extending the availability of employee-assistance programs to workers being laid off." (The Arizona Republic)
Telephone Outreach Benefits Both, Employer and Employee
Excerpt: "In a study report in the September 26 issue of JAMA it was revealed that workers who suffered from depression but took part in a program that included telephone outreach involvement seemed to eventually have fewer symptoms, worked longer hours and retained their jobs longer than other participants who received the usual care but not the telephone care treatment. Not only was there an improvement in their mental health but they showed greater productivity." (
Employers See Value in Helping Those Laid Off
Excerpt: "A growing number of employers give laid-off staffers something extra to ease the pain of their job loss: continued access to employee-assistance programs." (The Wall Street Journal Online)
Commentary: EAP Benefits Worth More Than Their Price Tag
Excerpt: "Granted, EAPs are inexpensive, and stress and marital problems aren't directly driving benefit cost increases as much as obesity and diabetes. However, it's no secret that emotional problems tend to manifest themselves physically and often run comorbid to chronic physical disease." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
How The New York Times Company Doubled EAP Participation
Excerpt: "The New York Times Company . . . pulled together an advisory committee comprised of HR executives at diverse business locations, and began a thorough evaluation of company needs, in a six-month long process that resulted in both a new vendor and more than doubled use of the external EAP program." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
Men and Women Call EAP's about Different Problems
Excerpt: "New research reveals men are more likely than women to call employee assistance programs for help with substance abuse, job and relationship problems, according to Bensigner, DuPont and Associates, a national EAP provider." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
2007 Leading EAP Providers - Listed in Alphabetical Order
Excerpt: "Employee assistance programs have a dual purpose. They help companies address productivity issues in the workforce and also assist employees in identifying and resolving personal concerns, according to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association." (Workforce Management; free registration required)
Online Crisis-Support Service Prevents Employees from Feeling Isolated While Maintaining Privacy
Excerpt: "On its Web site, CareCircle promotes its product as particularly effective for families affected by a medical crisis, elder care, a new baby or military duty. However, the space also can be used to assist families affected by natural disasters, children with special needs and bereavement . . . ." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
Integrating EAPs into Smoking Cessation Can Help Workers Stub Out the Habit
Excerpt: "'Benefit managers and health care practitioners treat smoking as an acute problem, instead of the chronic condition that it is,' . . . . 'We need to change this perception. [Smokers] want comprehensive smoking cessation benefits.'" (Employee Benefit News)
BenefitsLink Named 'Best of the Web' by Human Resource Executive Online
We're the only site in the 'Benefits' category! Thanks for letting us share this news with you. Excerpt: "With that in mind, we considered it fitting to present in this anniversary issue 10 of the best HR Web sites and 10 of the best HR blogs for your browser's Favorites/Bookmarks list. . . . [I]f it's about benefits, you'll find something about it on BenefitsLink. Just a cruise down its left side navigation/links bar, and you quickly get the idea how they chose the site's name back in 1995." (Human Resource Executive Online; free registration required)
Companies Call For EAPs to Assist in Identifying and Helping Domestic Violence Victims
Excerpt: "Lost-productivity costs as a result of domestic violence add up to $727.8 million annually, and 7.9 million paid workdays are lost a year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. An employer coalition is seeking to work with employee assistance programs to ensure that they know how to spot the signs of abuse." (Workforce Management)
Employers Must Assess the Sum of All Parts of Integrated Health Services
Excerpt: "Benefit managers shopping for a wellness program will find more employee assistance programs and disease management vendors are tapping into the wellness market." (Employee Benefit News)
Aetna to Provide Employee Assistance Services to Small Group Health Plans
Excerpt: "Aetna . . . today announced that employee assistance services will be a standard part of the servicing of fully insured health plans for all small group employers." (
Financial and EAP Counseling Can Improve Fiscal and Physical Health
Excerpt: "'Most people don't realize how often their physical problems are caused by stressing over money problems,' says Mary Brown, senior vice president at BrownRichards & Associates, a company specializing in providing national and international work-life consulting and referral services." (Employee Benefit News)
Peer Assistance Program Supports EAP in Counseling Workers
Excerpt: "Nearly all of us at some point have taken a co-.worker into our confidence for help solving a personal problem. Several California transportation unions have built on this aspect of workplace relationships, creating a peer assistance program (PAP) in which specially trained employees lend support to colleagues in crisis." (Employee Benefit News)
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