Frequently Asked Questions About The Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
What is the Employee Assistance Program?
EAP is a free, voluntary program available to postal employees and their families. It is intended to provide timely, quality, confidential assistance when it is needed.
How is APWU involved with EAP?
Article 35 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires that the USPS and APWU work jointly in the development and improvement of EAP and establish a National EAP Committee (NEC). APWU’s NEC representative is Sue Carney, Human Relations Director.
What types of assistance does EAP provide?
EAP provides short-term counseling for nearly every type of situation that can affect your workplace or personal life. Topics include: parenting, elder care, blended families, marital problems, balancing home and work, job burnout, time management, substance abuse, alcoholism, co-dependency, coping with traumatic events such as a natural disasters or being the victim of crime, domestic violence, grief counseling, stress management, financial instability, smoking cessation, insomnia, back-to-school issues, lifestyle adjustments due to injuries and more.
Who provides the counseling services?
Federal Occupational Health Services – not the USPS – is responsible for administration of the program and service. They contract through Magellan Health Services for counselors and service representatives. For your convenience, on-site counselors are available in every district. Many affiliated off-site counselors are also available.
Are my counseling sessions confidential?
To ensure confidentiality, all counselors are state certified and must hold master degrees. Counselors may not disclose any information regarding your confidential sessions without your written consent. The only exceptions are when legal requirements impose a “duty to warn,” or a court-ordered subpoena has been issued.
Do I have to pay for my EAP counseling?
No. As a USPS employee, you, your family members and individuals living in your home (except tenants and your employees) are entitled to six counseling sessions. If more than six sessions are required, your EAP counselor may offer you six additional sessions.
If your situation requires extended counseling, your EAP counselor will refer you to a counselor who provides services under your Federal Employees’ Health Benefits plan. If you do not have coverage, your EAP counselor will attempt to find you services you can afford.
Can I visit EAP on-the-clock?
Your first visit may be on-the-clock (at your option). If you choose to attend on-the-clock, the appointment must be coordinated between you, the counselor, and your immediate supervisor. Your supervisor has the right to verify your attendance for pay purposes, but does not have the right to know any of the details of your session. Future visits may be scheduled during your non-work hours or you may use leave (subject to leave provisions).
What if I’ve exhausted my free sessions and my on-the-clock visit and I have a new situation or a reoccurrence?
You are entitled to a new set of sessions for matters that are different in nature. In cases of reoccurrence, if there has been a reasonable time lapse between the conclusion of your sessions and the reoccurrence, you are entitled to a new set of sessions. In both instances, you would be entitled to another on-the-clock visit.
Can I continue to see my EAP counselor when I have exhausted my free visits?
In most cases yes, provided that you make the request and the counselor does not refer you to himself or herself. In cases where your health benefits require a referral, you will have to adhere to the requirements. You are responsible for any costs incurred.
How can I be referred to EAP?
Anyone can refer you to EAP. You can be referred by a concerned co-worker, but generally, you are referred to EAP through self referral, by your supervisor, or your union representative.
Do I have to attend EAP if my supervisor refers me?
No. EAP is a completely voluntary program. You can not be disciplined for refusing to attend. If your supervisor requests that you sign a referral form or statement stating that you refuse, you are not required to sign the form. In fact, the National EAP Committee has agreed that there should be no written referrals.
If EAP is confidential, voluntary, and non-disciplinary, why is participation in EAP sometimes included in “Last Chance Agreements?”
Unfortunately, there are occasions when a well-intentioned program is misused by supervisors; this misuse plays a part in undermining the program’s effectiveness. APWU’s position is that if participation in EAP is included in a Last Chance Agreement, it should be a strong recommendation – not a requirement. In our opinion, any stipulation that requires EAP participation transforms EAP to a non-voluntary program (See ELM 871.31). The National EAP Committee agrees that failure to attend EAP sessions should not be the sole catalyst for disciplinary action.
How quickly can I expect to be seen by a counselor?
You can speak with a counselor immediately by calling the EAP Hotline. Additionally, Federal Occupational Health Service’s commitment requires employees with emergencies to be seen by a counselor within 24 hours; employees with urgent requests must be seen within 48 hours, and those with routine requests within 72 hours. It should never take more than five days to see a counselor (except in instances when the employee’s personal schedule prevents a visit within that time frame).
What happens when I call the EAP Hotline?
Access to assistance has improved with the addition of the toll-free EAP hotline, 1-800-EAP-4YOU (TTY: 1-877-482-7341). Hotline calls go directly to a centralized service center staffed with trained responders 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The call center staff members are not USPS employees, nor are they hired by the USPS. The responders are trained to determine the needs of the caller and provide emergency intervention, information, referral or assignment for services. When employees call with emergencies or urgent needs, they can speak with a counselor immediately. Your call is confidential. However, the call service representative should advise you that the call may be monitored by a supervisor to assure quality of service. This is not a postal supervisor but a call service supervisor. If you advise the call service responder that you do not want your call monitored, the call will not be monitored.
What can I expect to find on the EAP Web site? Language in
To keep you informed and help meet your needs a Web page was created,www.EAP4YOU.com. You will find resources to assist you with life events, mental health issues, workplace and provider information, as well as details about benefits and getting treatment. Quick links are provided regarding parenting, anxiety, childcare and elder care. The Web site provides tools to help the Advisory Committees perform their tasks. The Advisory Committee "Tool Kit" contains various documents, including articles about how to promote the EAP.
How can I access the EAP Web site?
- Click on or type www.EAP4YOU.com in the address line of your computer browser.
- You can register by creating a personal ID and password to gain full access.
- You can choose to continue unregistered, to gain limited access.
What are the Joint Committees (JCEAP) and District Advisory Committees (DAC) for EAP?
These are advisory committees. There are currently 5 JCEAPS located in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia,
St. Louis, and Springfield (MA). The District Advisory Committees are in place in every other postal district. Each participating organization (APWU, NALC, and USPS) has equal representation on the committee.
These committees serve as the eyes and ears of the program from the local perspective. Their role includes promoting the program, assessing its effectiveness, providing feedback, addressing organizational issues, developing program content, evaluating the delivery of services, and addressing issues unique to each district.
APWU representatives to the District Advisory Committees are recommended by APWU locals or state organizations within the jurisdiction of each postal district. However, APWU DAC reps are authorized to serve from the headquarters level. This practice ensures we have an accurate accounting of our representatives, gives all locals and state organizations an opportunity to serve, and prevents committee dominance by only one or two organizations when others are willing to serve. Vacancies should be reported by contacting the Human Relations Department at 202-842-4271.
My local or state APWU offers an alternative program. Which program should I use for assistance?
APWU supports any program that provides confidential, professional assistance to our members. These programs – usually referred to as Member Assistance Programs –are not in competition with EAP. Employees should determine which program will best meet their needs. In some cases, employees choose to participate in both. To find out if your local or state organization offers such an option, you should contact one of your local or state representatives directly.