Many companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to their employees. These EAP Programs are contracted by companies to provide various services to their employees. This article will discuss Employee Assistant Programs or EAPs and how they relate to Workers’ Compensation Claims and Employee Work Injuries. This article will also discuss various workers’ compensation case law involving EAP programs.

What are Employee Assistance Programs?

Employee Assistance Programs are available to help employees with personal problems. EAPs can address various concerns that employees confront. These concerns include emotional issues, family issues, financial issues, and health issues. These programs are usually provided free of charge.

Sometimes, personal problems that employees have may be related to work injuries which give rise to workers’ compensation claims. An employee may seek assistance from an EAP program because they are being harassed by their supervisor or are having conflicts with their co-workers. Other times, an employee may have a work injury and are trying to get some assistance on coping with it.

Do I Have an EAP?

Not every employer has an EAP Program. You should check with your company’s Human Resources Department to see if they one.

How Do EAPs Assist Employees in Need?

EAPs can address a variety of life issues. EAPs will work on getting a person connected with a professional that can assist them with their particular issue.

EAP Programs can address issues that can involve both the workplace and home. Sometimes, these problems intersect. Employee’s problems at home can become work-related problems. Sometimes, work-related problems can become problems at home.

EAPs can address issues of marriage, family and relationship issues. EAPs can address issues involving problems in the workplace. EAPs can address emotional issues such as stress, anxiety or changes in mood. EAPs can address significant life issues such as loss, grief, or response to traumatic events.

What Is Clinical Support that an EAP can Provide?

Clinical Support can be provided in a variety of ways. Clinical Support can be provided face to face, telephonically, and through video/web support. If the need for support is significant, there may be a need to seek treatment via the employee’s health care provider or treatment via a workers’ compensation claim.

What Is the Goal of an EAP Consultation?

An EAP Counselor will identify and evaluate the nature and severity of the employee’s problems and concerns. They will provide immediate assistance in the event of an emergency or urgent issue. They can also provide short-term counseling. They will also screen the employee’s situation to determine whether it may require long-term treatment or other forms of intensive care.

EAP Counselors may make such a referral if it is needed. Further, they will also work on relapse prevention as well as follow up. If drug or alcohol problems are suspected, the EAP Counselor will make an appropriate referral to either medical or mental health


What Is a Session Like?

Sessions with EAP Counselors will involve them making an assessment concerning the employee’s chief complaints as well as a history of the problem as well as the past treatment for the problem. They will also explore the employee’s psychosocial history as well as perform a mental status examination. Mental Status exams are the equivalent of a physical exam but done to address one’s mental status and their behavioral state. In other words, they will want to know how you are feeling and how you are functioning.

Are EAP Consultations Considered Medical Treatment?

No. EAP Services are not to be considered as medical care or mental health treatment. Again, if treatment is needed then there may be a need to seek treatment via the employee’s health care provider or treatment via a workers’ compensation claim.

What is Short Term Counseling?

Short Term Counseling can address a number of various issues. These issues can include phase of life problems, martial problems, family problems, and work-related issues. The counselor may assist in trying to work to resolve the issues, to provide insight for the individual, to provide tools to communicate to others their concerns or provide tools to reduce stress. They can provide skills in dealing with co-workers. They can assist an individual working through the process of bereavement.

What is Substance Abuse Treatment?

Substance Abuse Treatment clinicians work on the diagnosis, intervention and treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse. This may be referred out to specialists in the field. It may be necessary for the Employee to use their health insurance or workers’ compensation to provide such treatment. Substance Abuse treatment that is work-related most commonly can occur as the result of taking medications on an industrial basis that are addicting.

What are Behavioral Health Services that an EAP may provide?

Behavioral Services are essentially mental health services. This can include services such a substance abuse disorder treatment, therapists, psychiatrists or psychologists. Behavioral Health Services can range from treatment that made take a few hours to 24-hour inpatient care.

Please note that the nature and extent of this treatment can take these services outside of the purview of an EAP program. Treatment may need to be obtained via the employee’s healthcare insurance. If the medical treatment necessity is caused by work, treatment may need to be obtained via the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.

Has There Been Any Caselaw Concerning EAP Programs?

There have been a number of reported workers’ compensation cases involving EAP Programs. These cases provide insight as to the role an EAP may play in a workers’ compensation claim.

EAP Programs have been a source for treatment for Injured Workers. See Verga vs. WCAB (2008) 73 C.C.C. 63; Pomona College vs. WCAB (2009) 74 Cal. Comp. Cases 1284 (writ denied); Arroyo v. County of Riverside 2019 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 286; Watts vs. WCAB (2004) 69 C.C.C. 684; 2013 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 328; and Porter vs. Tarzana Treatment Centers 2013 Cal.Wrk.Comp. P.D. LEXIS 328 (Panel Decision)

EAP Programs may serve as a notice of injury. Sometimes, employees who report work injuries are referred to the EAP program by their employer. In one case, an Employee reporting an injury to the HR Department and being referred to an EAP Program was found sufficient to toll the statute of limitations. See Pomona College vs. WCAB (2009) 74 Cal. Comp. Cases 1284 (writ denied) (It was undisputed that Applicant broke down in tears as he discussed the accident with his supervisor. His supervisor suggested that Applicant seek counseling through Defendant’s Employee Assistance Program. Applicant was also referred to the EAP by Defendant’s Human Resources department after telling a human resources employee that he was suffering from severe distress as a result of the accident.)

 Where Can I Get Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation.
They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.


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