What is an Employee Assistance Program?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is designed to help employees with personal issues or work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, or mental and emotional well-being.

Most EAPs offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services for employees and may even offer these to their household members. EAP counselors work in a consultative role with managers to address employee needs. Many corporations, academic institutions, and government agencies participate in these programs. They are mainly aimed at work-related problems but sometimes will also act to assist employees with problems outside of the workplace, including: family and marriage problems, emotional problems, financial problem, legal problems, and other problems including drug use.

EAPs Helping Businesses With Employment Related Disputes 

Employment related disputes can be time consuming, distracting, and costly. Preparing for a discrimination case alone can range from $10,000 to $50,000. Defending an employment claim costs, on the average, $130,000. Complaints that proceed on to litigation, cost on average $263,945. And the civil suits going to trial average 2 1/2 years.

EAPs Helping Employees

Mediation provides employees with an opportunity to put closure on difficult situations with co-workers, their supervisors and even their own family members. They often help employees get back to work knowing that the issue is resolved.

What Kinds of Issues Do EAPs Help Employers Address?

  • Discrimination
  • Interpersonal Communication Issues
  • Disputes between Co-Workers
  • Management Disputes
  • Terminations
  • Intra-Departmental Disputes
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Work-Team Conflicts

How EAPs Help Employees

Traditionally, EAPs provide counseling services to help employees resolve their problems and return to full productivity. Studies show that 4 out of 5 employees are not performing at peak levels.

A reported 7 out of 10 people in the United States does not seek legal counsel because they are concerned about the costs. Additionally, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 people have unmet need for legal services in areas including: marriage, child, elder, civil and criminal areas.

Studies have shown that when many people are confronted with legal issues, most don’t know where to turn for professional help and many can not afford the services they so desperately need.

Many Employee Assistance Programs offer comprehensive legal solutions designed to help consumers by providing affordable legal resources to individuals and their families during a time of need.

EAP programs also offer members access to experienced attorneys, mediators, and legal document assistants to help through a variety of challenges at various stages of their lives.


One benefit is that an employer never knows who uses the EAP service – so your issue is kept private.

Free or Low Cost

Generally, the service is free or low cost  to the employee and their household members, having been prepaid by the employer. In most cases, an employer contracts with a third-party company to manage its EAP. However, employees are responsible for paying external providers (such as lawyers) for their services.

EAPs do not cover the cost for external providers. Employees or individuals who contract with external providers, such as attorneys, are responsible for paying those fees.

What Does a Legal Assistance Program Offer?

Many EAP plans provide members with free access to referrals to top rated attorneys in their area. Members of these programs may simply call a toll free number, offer their membership or case number, and a brief description of the type of legal matter the member has. In return, they are provided with the name, address and telephone number of the provider firm in their area.

Some plans offer one free office consultation or telephone consultation per separate legal issue. Practically all types of legal matters are eligible for services, including:

  • Civil/Consumer Issues
  • Personal/Family Legal Services
  • Personal Injury
  • Criminal Matters
  • Business Legal Services
  • Real Estate
  • IRS Matters
  • Estate Planning Law