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Are employee assistance programs required?

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Q. I understand that many companies offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) as an added benefit for employees who may have drug or alcohol abuse problems. Are we required by law to do so?

A. State or federal law does not require employers to provide or pay for EAPs. California Labor Code section 1025 provides, however, that private-sector employers with 25 or more employees must “reasonably accommodate any employee who wishes to voluntarily enter and participate in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program” absent undue hardship on the employer.

Employers are also required to make reasonable efforts to maintain the confidentiality of any employee who has enrolled in such a program.

Section 1025, however, does permit an employer to fire or refuse to hire someone whose current use of alcohol or drugs makes him or her unable to perform job duties, or unable to perform them in a manner that would not endanger the health or safety of himself or herself or others.

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