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Employee Assistance Program Policy

Policy Scope

Councils of Synod: Employees as defined here> 

Location/site: All locations of the Councils of Synod as defined here> 

Congregations: Are encouraged to adopt/adapt this policy for their work environments for paid lay employees as defined here> 

Policy Statement

Uniting Church SA recognises that work performance can be affected by problems in the personal and work lives of its employees.  As a reflection of this concern, Uniting Church SA has established an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide confidential counselling and related services to employees where medical, emotional, personal or physical problems are affecting their work performance.

Any person, irrespective of age, sex or status can experience personal problems which can affect their general health and well being. These problems can also affect their performance at work, and may include emotional stress, financial difficulties, legal, marital and family issues, and drug and alcohol problems.

Uniting Church SA recognises that some form of assistance (personal or professional) may be required to assist employees in managing their difficulties.  The EAP has been designed to provide assistance and support to employees in these circumstances. This will ultimately benefit both employees and Uniting Church SA.

As personnel in specified ministries have alternative arrangements for this type of support throughout the Uniting Church SA’s Pastoral Relations processes, this policy applies to lay employees only.

What kind of problems can be addressed through EAP?

  • Relationship, marriage and family difficulties
  • Conflict between persons in the workplace
  • Alcohol and other drug problems
  • Stress and other trauma
  • Parenting
  • Personal health challenges (physical & psychological)
  • Sleep and fatigue management
  • Other work related problems
  • Financial and legal problems (regarding impact of such problems on self, family and work)

Who will provide EAP services?

Uniting Church SA has established a service level agreement with McMphee Andrewartha who will provide the required counselling services. McPhee Andrewartha can be contacted by phone (8357 1800) or by people@mcpheeandrewartha.com.au" target="_blank">email. The Manager Human Resources (MHR) can be a contact point for advice if required prior to accessing this counselling service. The MHR will not be keeping a record of who makes these initial inquiries. However, employees can also refer themselves directly to the provider.

What types of EAP services are available?

Fee based services

  • Face-to-face counselling
  • Telephonic counselling

For more information and details about these services, please visit the McPhee Andrewartha website.

If for any reason employees are uncomfortable with referral to McPhee Andrewartha, they are encouraged to contact the Manager Human Resources about other counselling services options under the Uniting Church SA EAP services.

Who pays?

Uniting Church SA will guarantee funding for employees to use any of the EAP services listed above to the equivalent of three (3) hours (3 sessions) per annum. Thereafter employees will pay for any further consultations. “Per annum” is defined as the period from 1 January – 31 December each year.  Tax invoices for the cost of up to three (3) sessions will be forwarded by the counselling service provider to the Manager Human Resources. These invoices will not contain any details of employees counselled. For this reason, when employees attend their first counselling session they will need to provide their Employee Payroll Number to demonstrate they are an eligible Uniting Church SA employees. Eligibility is defined in the scope of this program section of this policy.

If attending more than three (3) counselling sessions causes considerable financial hardship, employees should approach the Manager Human Resources who may be able to make alternative arrangements.

What can be expected after initial counselling?

In some instances the nature of the problem which has brought about the need for counselling may require referral to a specialist agency. In such situations every effort will be made to recommend a service that is either free, covered by health insurance or has a fee scale based on the employees member’s ability to pay. In some special circumstances, Uniting Church SA may assist employees with payment of an approved fee.

How does the EAP work?

Attendance at counselling sessions is managed the same way as any other external medical treatment for personal needs. Counselling sessions are strictly confidential and unless expressly authorised by employees, details of discussions will not be released by the counsellor to any other person.

The EAP works in the following ways:

Self-referral

  • Under the program, employees who realise that a particular problem is becoming unmanageable are encouraged to seek help to resolve it.
  • Employees can refer themselves without any intervention from Uniting Church SA.
  • Arrangements for an appointment should be made directly with the chosen service provider.

Encouraged referral

  • A friend, relative, supervisor or co-worker may suggest the use of the EAP to employees.
  • Employees may also be supported by a work colleague or the Manager Human Resources in seeking appropriate counselling.

Supervisor referral

  • Supervisors are expected to monitor and document work performance of employees.
  • Where normal work performance processes identify a personal problem, a supervisor can suggest a referral. However employees retain the right to refuse the offer of external counselling.
  • The only information discussed between the supervisor and the external counsellor will be in relation to work performance, records of counselling attendance during working hours or arranging special leave requirements.

For all types of referrals, employees have the right to have a person of their choice present for performance counselling.

Leave Provisions

If employees elect to attend counselling during normal working hours, appropriate leave will normally be granted. This may include sick leave, annual leave or leave without pay (as appropriate).

Arrangements to cover an absence for these reasons must be made with the appropriate manager/supervisor beforehand without any need to disclose the nature of the problem for which advice is being sought. Where an extended period of time away from work is required, the counsellor will agree with employees the way in which Uniting Church SA will be approached to discuss this need. The appropriate type of leave will be determined by Uniting Church SA.

Will participation affect my job?

Seeking counselling will not affect job security or promotional opportunities. Seeking counselling advice is strongly encouraged by Uniting Church SA if employees have identified a problem that is affecting work performance.

Program Monitoring

Uniting Church SA will monitor the EAP periodically to ensure that it is operating effectively. This review will involve management, and where relevant, the service providers. This review will determine whether:

  • the principles and spirit of the program statement are being adhered to by all parties;
  • adequate emphasis is given to the prevention of future problems;
  • the program is making contact with those in most need, and that there are benefits arising from the provision of the service;
  • participation in the program has disadvantaged any individual;
  • information and education to promote the health and well being of employees is being provided;
  • special attention is being devoted to facets of the work environment which may contribute to personal problems.

Additional Information

If you wish to make an appointment or require further information, please contact:

  • Your direct supervisor/manager;
  • Presbytery and Synod Manager Human Resources
  • A member of your local WHS Consultative Site Group
  • Presbytery and Synod Officers

 

Related Policies

  • Work Health Safety Corporate Policy
  • Work Health Safety Congregation Policy

References

Work, Health & Safety Act 2009

 

Executive Officer, Resources

 

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