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Law Enforcement Employee Assistance Program FAQ’s

How do I know if I am eligible to receive services through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
Each agency makes the final determination with regard to who is covered under its EAP services. In many agencies, every employee, any legal dependant regardless of home address, or significant other living in the employee’s household is eligible for service. It is advisable to become aware of your agency’s policy as to who is eligible to receive EAP services.
What is the difference between the law enforcement EAP and the regular EAP?
The law enforcement EAP is a specialized component of the regular EAP, designed around the unique needs of the law enforcement professional. Officers have the option of requesting a referral to a counselor who is familiar with both the nature of the job, and the law enforcement culture. This understanding enables counselors to better appreciate the occupational circumstances of law enforcement professionals and facilitates development of solutions that are effective. Counselors in the regular EAP do not necessarily have comparable understanding of the law enforcement profession and culture.
How do I access the law enforcement EAP?
By calling the toll-free number, (800) 222-0364, and stating that you wish to access the law enforcement program.
What if I don’t choose to access the law enforcement EAP? Do I have to by virtue of my job classification?
The choice to access the law enforcement program is entirely yours. Law enforcement personnel may choose not to identify themselves as such. Sometimes law enforcement spouses prefer to see a counselor who is not associated with the profession.
During an EAP orientation, a statement was made that all services are entirely confidential “except as required by law.” What does this mean, and what are those exceptions?
Licensed EAP providers are bound to protect the confidentiality of communications between themselves and their clients. This means that information disclosed in counseling is confidential and protected by law. No information is provided to the employer without the employee’s written permission. However, there are circumstances where the law has determined that confidentiality is not protected and certain circumstances can, or must, be reported to the appropriate authorities. Those circumstances include:
  1. When you consent to disclosure in writing.
  2. When disclosure is allowed by a court order.
  3. When information is disclosed to medical personnel in a medical emergency or when the disclosure is made in a non-identifiable form to qualified personnel for research, audit, or program evaluation.
  4. When information is disclosed to a private firm, individual, or group providing EAP functions contractually. The contractor is required to maintain all confidentiality safeguards and surrender records to the EAP Administrator at the time of contract termination. The EAP Administrator is also bound by law from disclosing any information other than in the circumstances cited in this answer.
  5. Information can be disclosed to the Department of Justice for the purpose of defending your agency and/or its employees in litigation when the litigation relates to your use of the EAP. These disclosures must comply with all other aspects of these regulations and be approved by the EAP Administrator for your agency.
  6. Information can be disclosed to your direct supervisor in order to confirm that you have made or kept EAP appointments during regular duty hours or sick leave (no other information will be given without your written consent).
  7. Information can be disclosed to your direct supervisor, under the Drug Free Workplace Program, if you are tested and receive a verified positive drug test result.
  8. Information can be disclosed if you pose a danger to yourself or others, or threaten to commit a serious crime. This disclosure could involve law enforcement and, in the case of threat of harm to others, the potential victim. No other information about your use of the EAP will be disclosed.
  9. If you provide information that would lead to suspicion of child abuse or neglect (or in some states elder or spouse abuse). In these cases, the EAP is required to report that information under State law to appropriate State or local authorities.
Are there any differences in the laws pertaining to confidentiality that are specific to Armed Services personnel?
Yes. The Coast Guard mandates that the EAP report child abuse/neglect, spouse abuse, parent abuse, elder abuse/neglect and sibling abuse to the responsible Coast Guard Worklife staff. The Air Force Material Command (AFMC) also has specific reporting requirements that pertain to civilian employees and active duty members (including activated Reserve and Guard members). Abuse of alcohol or other substances will be reported to the unit Security Manager of AFMC civilian employees who are on a Personal Reliability Program, flying status, carry weapons or hold a Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance. Suspected domestic abuse by an active duty military member or civilian employee living on base with an active duty member will also be reported to the base Family Advocacy Program per Department of Defense Instructions and Service regulations and instructions.
Will my use of the EAP be a factor in the background investigation for the purpose of renewing my security clearance?
The act of utilizing the EAP alone will not become an issue in your security clearance renewal in most instances. However, additional information concerning the nature of the EAP contact may be requested from personnel in certain job classifications. It is advisable to become aware of your agency’s personnel policy in this area as it pertains to your job classification.
When I called the EAP toll-free number, the customer service representative asked me to provide more information than I expected to give. Why does the EAP need information about me? Will this information get back to my employer in any type of report?
Your personal information will not be shared. However, general and demographic information is gathered in order to provide quarterly statistical information to agencies regarding the use of the EAP. The information provided to agencies includes the type of service used (e.g., counseling, legal/financial, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, etc.), region of the country, etc. Individuals are not identified in any way in these reports. This information is helpful for employers so that they can improve services, plan, and budget for any additional services. Also, callers to the EAP toll-free number may always ask to speak anonymously with an EAP consultant by telephone without giving identifying information.
Can I be ordered to seek services through the EAP?
No. All EAP services are voluntary. If, however, you should receive a written referral to the EAP, it is to your advantage to comply.
What kinds of information can a supervisor obtain when an employee receives a written referral to the EAP?
A supervisor can request confirmation of attendance and dates of attendance, particularly if the employee is attending EAP sessions on government time, or is utilizing sick time to do so. No specific content of the counseling sessions can be released by the EAP counselor unless the employee signs a release of information permitting such disclosure.
If no specific information can be released, what is the point of a written referral?
A written referral communicates the agency’s attempt to make every effort to encourage and support the employee in resolving the identified problem.
Is a written referral to the EAP an alternative to disciplinary action? If so, does my participation in the EAP prevent any disciplinary action from being taken against me?
The agency makes the decision whether referral to the EAP will be an alternative to disciplinary action. Involvement in the EAP does not shield an employee from the process of disciplinary action.
Does the EAP perform Fitness For Duty examinations?
No. The EAP is an employee support service. The EAP does not perform Fitness for Duty examinations, nor does it provide the agency with reports as to an employee’s ability to function on the job.
What is a Fitness For Duty examination?
A Fitness for Duty examination is typically performed by a physician. The examination is done in order to determine whether or not an employee is able to perform essential job functions without risk of harm to self or others.
What are the main points of difference between EAP services and a Fitness for Duty examination?
The primary concern in the EAP is the employee’s well being. A Fitness for Duty examination focuses on the extent to which an employee is able to perform his or her job. Following a Fitness for Duty examination, a written report is submitted to the employer who makes the final decision as to the employee’s ability to function in the job. An employee is ordered to undergo a Fitness for Duty examination by the agency in order to assess whether some injury, illness, or other condition has impaired the employee’s ability to perform/retain his or her job. Involvement in the EAP cannot be ordered. In a Fitness for Duty examination, the “client” is the agency and the examiner is an objective evaluator. In the EAP, the client is the employee, and the counselor is the employee’s resource.
If I test positive for a controlled substance under my agency’s drug-testing program, or am determined to be under the influence of alcohol while on duty, will I be terminated?
The policy on this differs among agencies. The agency’s response could range from permitting the employee to enter into a treatment program with follow-up testing and monitoring, to termination regardless of stated circumstances. It is advisable to become aware of your agency’s policy in this area.
If I disclose substance abuse or problematic alcohol use in an EAP session will this be reported?
In general, unless the employee is in a safety-sensitive position, or could pose a danger to others by reason of impairment, the EAP counselor is not mandated to report such behavior. If, however, the employee is a member of the Armed Services, disclosure of such behavior may be mandated. In either case, the counselor is both legally and ethically required to make a clinical determination as to whether such behavior could pose a significant risk to the employee and/or the general public. If, in the counselor’s clinical judgment such a risk does exist, the counselor must take action to contact responsible parties.
I’ve heard that if an employee comes forward and admits a substance abuse problem (not in response to a positive test), the employee’s job is protected under “Safe Harbor” provisions. Is that accurate?
Individual agency policies differ on this matter. Some operate under “Safe Harbor” provisions, and some do not. It is advisable to be familiar with your agency’s policies.
I’ve heard that the EAP provides consultation services to supervisors and managers. What type of service is it, and how do I access it?
The EAP can provide consultative services to supervisors and managers when they have questions about the EAP services offered, are looking for resources for employees, or want to discuss an employee-related matter. Occasionally, supervisors may encounter employee behavior that raises concerns, and may request advice and information. The opportunity to consult with a counseling professional can help the supervisor formulate a response that is focused on performance issues, while offering the employee resources and support. A consultation is structured around a “coaching,” rather than a “counseling” model. This service is accessed by calling the EAP’s toll-free number.
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