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									     Employee Assistance European Forum (EAEF)

                                                                                   September 2004

Employee Assistance European Guidelines

1.      Introduction

The Employee Assistance European Forum (EAEF) was founded in 2002 to be the voice of
Employee Assistance (EA) in Europe. It currently has over 50 members in 18 countries
throughout Europe. EAEF membership is open to all individuals and organisations with an
interest in EA work in Europe. For more details visit

In June 2003, the EAEF appointed a pan-European Task Force to review existing, related
standards of practice and professional guidelines for EA work with the objective of developing
and promoting Guidelines for best practice in Europe.

In developing these Guidelines, the EAEF is deeply indebted to Dr Dale Masi, Professor, School of
Social Work and Adjunct Professor, College of Business and Management, University of
Maryland, USA. This document is primarily an adaptation of the research and the development of
world-wide guidelines she led at Masi Research Consultants, Inc. Its adaptation was achieved
jointly by Damian Davy (Work and Organisational Psychologist, Phoenix Centre, Dublin, Ireland)
and Olivier Bouley (International EAP Business Manager, Accor Services, Paris, France) under
the direction and supervision of the Steering Group of the EAEF.

These Guidelines are intended to provide a best practice framework for the provision of EA
services in European workplaces from the point of view of providers, purchasers, related
professionals and public policy makers.

All EAEF members are required to sign their acceptance of and adherence to these Guidelines as a
condition of their membership.

2.      General Principles

2.1 Definition
Employee Assistance is a work based programme to improve organisational performance through
the provision of structured management and employee support services.

2.2 Support Services
Services typically consist of a combination of performance management/organisational
consultancy services for managers and support services for employees.

Services for employees can cover a wide range of work related or personal issues including but not
limited to work stress, absenteeism, conflict in the workplace, harassment and bullying, substance
abuse, disability, depression, anxiety, relationships, health and wellness advice, marital and
family issues, critical incidents, childcare/eldercare, legal/financial advice, work-life balance and
concierge/convenience services.

2.3 Confidentiality, ethics and law
Confidentiality is key to the success and credibility of EA work. The level of confidentiality should
be clearly outlined in the EA Policy and, in the case of an externally provided programme, in the
contract between the EA Provider and the Client organisation. Confidentiality should cover all
information related to employees’ cases and records and to the organisation.

     Employee Assistance European Forum (EAEF)

Variations in applying the principle of confidentiality may only be justified when required to so in
law and in other limited circumstances, which are communicated to all employees through the
organisation’s EA Policy and other means of communication.

As a condition of their membership, EAEF members are required to comply with the EAEF’s Code
of Ethics. This is in addition to any other stated Code of Ethics they follow as a member of a
national, regional or other professional organisation. They should also comply with all local and
European Union law.

3.      Organisation

3.1 Delivery models
Depending on organisational requirements, culture and budget, one of three systems can be
 the ‘internal’ model which operates as a distinct service within the Client organisation
 the ‘external’ model which relies on an independent company to provide the service to the
   Client organisation under a signed contract
 the ‘hybrid’ model which combines both internal and external resources.

3.2 Administration, record keeping and quality assurance
Operating procedures should be developed to enable consistent and effective delivery of services.
A record keeping system should be in place to record cases for purposes of case management and
to provide management reports. The records kept should be held under appropriately secure
conditions. Policies regarding record retention and destruction should exist and the Policy should
be clearly understood by the Client organisation and service users. Appropriate liaison procedures
should be in place between the Provider and the Client organisation. A quality measurement
programme should be in place and available to evaluate the systems and continuously improve
the performance of the EA Provider.

3.3 Staff
The EA Provider should be staffed by an adequate number of individuals consistent with the
service levels agreed with the Client organisation and identified in agreed operating procedures,
in the case of an internal model or in the contract, in the case of an external or hybrid model. All
service staff should be made aware of and follow the same set of operating procedures.

The Provider should also provide regular staff training and be able to demonstrate to its Client
organisation(s) its standards for the qualification and the experience of its staff. The Provider
should also be able to demonstrate a level of skills in general management, individual counselling
and human resource consulting consistent with agreed service levels.

3.4 Affiliates
Depending on the nature of the case, the EA Provider may refer a Client to an external affiliate
whose speciality and experience best matches the needs of the Client. Affiliates are individuals or
organisations which have been carefully selected by the EA Provider and which have agreed to
comply with the same quality standards as the Provider. Affiliates should also be able to arrange
face-to-face meetings with the Client, as appropriate.

It is the responsibility of the Provider to ensure that its affiliates are appropriately qualified and
sufficiently experienced to deal with the issues raised by a Client and also to train them in its

3.5     Community resources

     Employee Assistance European Forum (EAEF)

Depending on the nature of the case, the Provider may also refer a Client on to other community
resources. These can include specialists within the Client organisation (e.g. Human Resource
managers, Occupational Health managers) or outside (e.g. doctors, psychiatrists, trainers,
coaches, community agencies).

4.      Deliverables

4.1 Assessments
An organisational assessment should be performed by the Client organisation and the EA
Provider at the beginning of their collaboration to highlight the specific problems and needs of the
Client organisation. The results of this assessment should be used by the EA Provider to
customise its programme for the Client organisation.

Individual assessments should be performed at the beginning of each case to check the degree of
urgency, identify the nature of the case and develop a plan of action involving internal and/or
external resources, as appropriate.

4.2 EA Policy
The EA Provider should work with the Client organisation to establish an ‘EA Policy’ in writing.
This Policy should include a summary of the nature of the EA services provided, how to use them,
limits to confidentiality, service performance objectives and how to measure them on a regular
basis. This Policy should be communicated internally and remain available to all managers,
employee representatives, union representatives, social workers and employees so that everyone
in the Client organisation receives consistent information.

4.3 Communications Programme
At the same time, the EA Provider should ensure that a promotional programme is customised for
each Client organisation to encourage usage by managers and employees. It can include manager
briefings and employee orientation programmes as well as a mix of brochures, posters, wallet
cards and electronic communications. This programme should be sustained not only during the
launch period but also afterwards as a service reminder and as a means of introducing new

4.4 Management reports
Management reports should be available for monitoring performance at least annually but also
more frequently e.g. quarterly or more often, as required by the Client organisation. The basis for
measuring utilisation (e.g. by number of individuals using the service, by total number of contacts
etc.) should be included in the Policy. Any utilisation data provided should be anonymised,
quantitative (e.g. service usage analysed by diagnosed problem area, aggregated demographics
etc.) and qualitative (e.g. identification of key trends, risks etc.).

4.5 Short term counselling /advisory services
Short term counselling and advisory services support should be provided by appropriate staff or
affiliates in the form of a limited and pre-defined number of sessions which focus on the Client’s
own ability to resolve problems and return to optimum performance levels. The maximum
number of sessions per employee per year forms part of the EA Policy. This is normally not less
than 3 and not more than 10 sessions. These sessions can be offered in several forms, including
face-to-face, by telephone or by a secure web interface.

4.6     Referrals

     Employee Assistance European Forum (EAEF)

‘Referral’ means that the EA Provider decides to refer its Client to one of its affiliates for problem
resolution. The EA Provider remains responsible for handling the case management, i.e. to check
that the problem has been solved in a satisfactory way.

‘Onward referral’ means that, for some Clients, the EA Provider may decide that the presenting
issues are more appropriate for ‘long term’ counselling (e.g. psychotherapy or special treatment)
than for ‘short term’. In most of these cases, the Provider will refer the Client to an appropriate
specialist and will make sure than the transition occurs efficiently and smoothly. In the case of an
externally provided programme and by exception, the EA Provider may also decide that the Client
may continue with the current affiliate counsellor. The circumstances for such a continuation
form part of the EA Policy.

‘Self-referral’ means that all employees (regardless of their status) and their immediate family
members (if included) can contact the EA Provider on their own initiative in a totally confidential

‘Management referral’ means that all managers can contact the EA Provider on a confidential
basis if they are concerned about the declining performance of one of their employees. This may
result in advising the employee, on a non-mandatory basis, to contact the EA Provider. In some
cases, as specified in the EA Policy, a referral can be mandatory.

A manager may also contact the EA Provider for confidential advice on alternative approaches to
managing an employee situation or on other performance related issues.

4.7 Organisational consultancy
The EA Provider should be able to provide organisational consultancy to the Client organisation
on a regular or ad-hoc basis. The Provider should also be able to explain programme usage,
identify key trends in the Client population and give advice on how to solve individual problems,
reduce risk and improve job performance.

4.8 Training
The EA Provider should be able to provide training for its Client organisations consistent with the
services identified in the Policy, either directly or by recommending external trainers. Such
training can address managers’ needs (such as team building or conflict resolution) or employees’
needs (such as stress prevention or retirement issues).

4.9. Crisis intervention
As an option and if it has the resources (either itself or through a specialised affiliate), the EA
Provider can offer on-site interventions in acute, crisis situations. Procedures for this service,
including arrangements for out-of-hours contact, form part of the EA Policy.

5.      References

For more information about the World-wide Guidelines developed by Dr Masi, go to

For more information about Standards of Practice and Professional Guidelines for Employee
Assistance Programmes (EAPs) in the UK or Ireland contact the local Chapters of the Employee
Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA). For the UK, go to For Ireland go

For more information about the Employee Assistance European Forum (EAEF), go to


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