EAP Best Practice: Disability in The Work Place

Everything you need to know about EAP. 

EAP should be able to add additional support beyond the legal requirements to make allowances to assist disabled and short term disabled employees. There are some differences between how an EAP program should assist with the treatment of disabled employees. As a standard practice, EAP should have the following in place as standard: 

-        Direct year round access to counselling by professional counsellors

-        Cost free outpatient visits covered for distinct problems

-        Cost free coverage that extends to the immediate family and partners

-        Drug free workplace programs that include awareness, confidential support and supervisor training

-        Legal consultations for issues unrelated to work

-        Financial counselling, debt management support

-        Child, eldercare support

-        Sexual harassment, violence prevention training

-        Compliance training

-        Crisis management programs

-        PTSD support

What this means for short term disabled employees?

With these in place EAP should already have ample resources to support short term disability in relation to mental health issues. However, despite this disability management isn’t always something that is fully encompassed in employee assistance programs. However, planning for short term disability and the aftercare that such issues can often require should be at the forefront of commercial planning to ensure both the employees wellness and as a preventative measure for the employer themselves. 

Recent studies have shown that merging Employee Assistance Programs and Short Term Disability Management[1] leads to dramatically improved outcomes for both employers and the employee. Research has clearly indicated that most short term disability claims have causes that are behavioural, psychological or psychosocial. The wellness of the employee in the work place has a significant impact on causing the incidence and the length of following absence.   

Studies showed that organizations with integrated EAP and STDM programs had a lower rate of absence, amounting to 31% lesser duration for combined programs. Making sure that employees are properly accounted for upon their return to work, flex working, supervisor training and the checklist above should help improve mental health and employer outcomes. 

Employees With Permanent Disability

There are 3 common scenarios in regards to permanent disability. 

-        Hired With Disability 

-        Newly Disabled / Disability Progression 

-        Known Issue Recent Diagnosis 

These 3 scenarios will require different levels of support. 

Hired With Disability – whilst this scenario would require the least direct support in most cases, it’s important to engage in proper sensitivity training and education of the disability with supervisors, management and colleagues. 

Known Issue Recent Diagnosis – This area should require the second least amount of support, however, it is important that supervisors and colleagues are given training around the condition and counselling offers are extended to the employee and reasonable measures are taken to accommodate the condition. 

Newly Disabled / Disability Progression – This area is a lot more complicated, and it is likely that the employee’s mental health with be severely damaged. Every possible accommodation should be made. Staff should be trained, and any issues resulting from the disability should be addressed rapidly. We would recommend regular meetings with supervisors to ensure that the employees return to work is being correctly managed.  


1 - https://www.morneaushepell.com/sites/default/files/assets/permafiles/91080/2018-employers-connect-research.pdf