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A Guide to Employee Assistance Programmes

A Guide To Employee Assistance Programmes

At Hooray Health & Protection we are seeing Employee Assistance Programmes (also known as EAP’s) added on to a wide range of insurance products.

Group Income Protection, Group Medical Insurance, Group Critical Illness and now even some Group Life providers are providing companies with Employee Assistance Programmes for no extra cost alongside their insurance products.

At Hooray Health & Protection our protection experts have noted the industry rarely explains to the companies they are insuring what they are getting from this extremely valuable service, so we have decided to answer the most commonly asked questions in this guide today.

What is an employee assistance programme?

EAP’s are an employee benefit that is provided to assist employees with any problems that can impact their work or personal life, which can include (but is not limited to) mental wellbeing, financial wellbeing or their emotional wellbeing.

What services does an employee assistance programme provide?

EAP’s provide a wide range of assistance programs for employees, the range of services they will be provided depends on the level of cover taken by the employer.

If we look at some of the ten most commonly requested/discussed services, we see under the employee assistance programmes in employee benefit packages.

  • Face to Face or Telephone Counselling
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Legal Help
  • Health Assessments
  • Mental Health Workshops
  • Managerial Support
  • Financial Management Help
  • Critical Incident Management
  • Medical Advice
  • Global Support

As we see from the above a comprehensive EAP provides services to support an employee and their employer during the times they need it the most.

Be aware, not every one of the services above are provided by every EAP in the market and certain EAP’s will be limited if they are an add on or taken as a standalone.

Standalone EAP’s you can choose which services are required by your employers and tailor them for your business whereas EAP’s added on to employee benefit products have restricted services as are arranged on bulk deals.

How much do EAP’s cost?

Once an employee assistance programme has been implemented, there will usually be no extra cost to the employee using the service, unless using above the set allowances provided.

Majority of the EAP’s we deal with at Hooray Health & Protection are included as added value services through employee benefit products such as death in service insurance, group sick pay cover or business health insurance.

If an employee assistance programme is included with a group risk product then the price has already been added into the insurance premium provided and will not add any additional costs.

Some companies may prefer a fully comprehensive employee assistance programme with all services available, which means not every EAP provided with employee benefit products will be suitable.

In these scenarios we are able to review taking an EAP directly with the provider where the average cost according to the ‘UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association’ can vary from £8 per employee, each year for a company with 500 employees but down to £3.50 per employee, per year for a company with 2000 employees with both companies reviewing a telephone counselling service.

At Hooray Health & Protection we review with our client’s what services they require from their employee assistance provider and tailor the services to these needs as each company will vary massively in their needs depending on their industry, location and employees.

Do I have to pay tax on Employee Assistance Programmes?

EAP premiums can be classed as a business expense which may be eligible for corporation tax relief.

Employee Benefits buyers guide as states they have to satisfy the HMRC definition of welfare and counselling and is not provided directly to dependants, unless in relation to an issue being faced by an employee.

We must stress, Hooray Health & Protection are an employee benefit brokers and would always advise seeking advice from an accountant or a tax specialist in relation to taxation issues.

Do employees use the EAP’s?

Over the years companies our directors have worked with have seen usage as high as 50% of their workforce but on many occasions met clients who have 0% usage or weren’t even aware that they had an employee assistance programme in place.

We are unable to access the usage for direct clients (which is apparently significantly higher) but for group income protection the usage as an industry is around 6% which is ridiculously low.

Usage will completely depend on how the service is relayed to a company’s workforce and how often employees are reminded of the EAP when it’s needed.

At Hooray Health & Protection we think sending an email to all staff when the policy is taken, then never again, isn’t enough to keep the service fresh in employees mind, so suggest several options to our clients to help remind employees of the service when needed the most such as:

  • Posters detailing the EAP services in company bathrooms and break rooms as are areas employees would likely go when experiencing emotional distress.
  • HR and managers all to attend annual WebEx ‘s reviewing the employee assistance programme so they are aware of what services they can signpost employees to when assistance is needed.
  • Annual newsletters sent to all employees with an overview of the employee assistance programme and how to access the services.

We ask employers not to be put off by the low usage figures when looking at the EAP’s as an added value service as we have seen clients with usage of up to 50%.

It’s just unfortunately more than a few independent financial advisers and insurance brokers aren’t helping their clients implement the policies to their full effect.

How can Hooray Health & Protection help?

At Hooray we have existing relationships with direct EAP providers and insurers that offer them as added value services with their employee benefit products.

We can help business to ensure they are getting the best service for their company and will always advise they are reviewing these services together to ensure companies are not overpaying for any employee assistance programmes.

Give us a call today on 01273 222805 or request a call back to discuss the options available.

Charlie Cousins

Founder and Director of Hooray Health & Protection, Charlie Cousins has enjoyed a career in the insurance and financial services industry spanning over the last ten years.

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