Workforce Wellbeing Package

Auckland Region: COVID-19 Employee Assistance Programme Support

Employment Assistance Programme (EAP) services for the Auckland regional workforce are available from 3 November 2020 for three months as part of the COVID-19 Workforce Wellbeing Package, announced in Budget 2020.

This extra support recognises the significant role of this workforce during the recent COVID-19 resurgence.

When and how will the workforce be able to access the support?

The EAP counselling and support services for Auckland educators will start on 3 November and be available for three months. We are working on the other initiatives including the nationwide wellbeing online hub which will be available by the end of the school year.

$2m has also been set aside for counselling and support services for any further COVID-19 resurgence and this would be made available for any other location or region moving to Alert Level 3 or higher.

What are the details of the Auckland EAP service? Who can use the service?

Available for those in teaching and non-teaching roles the details are:

  • up to three confidential individual counselling sessions
  • participation in one facilitated group session per person.

EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) is a confidential free service to support anyone experiencing personal and work related wellbeing challenges. The service is provided by an independent company (EAP Services Limited), and their staff are qualified, registered and highly experienced EAP specialists.

The service can be used by people whose ECE centre (including Kōhanga Reo and kindergartens), kura and state and state-integrated schools were impacted when the Auckland Region went into Alert Level 3, on Wednesday 12 August 2020 irrespective of whether they already had access to a support service, such as EAP.

How can the Auckland regional workforce access EAP services?

They can contact EAP:

Educators can choose when individual counselling takes place, either in their own time or during working hours. If it is during working hours then your approach should be consistent with your usual practice when accessing other support services, and the usual provisions for leave apply. To access a group session on a particular topic, principals and head teachers will be able to arrange these with EAP Services.

When should principals and head teachers consider group workshops and how can they be arranged?

After discussing how best to use this extra support with their staff, and in particular what topics would help the most, they can make contact with EAP for more details, including discussing suitable dates;

They are also encouraged to reach out through their local school, kura and ECE leadership communities to consider the benefit of joining together for combined group sessions. This collaboration may be a beneficial way of sharing and discussing the impact that COVID-19 has had on workforce wellbeing and hauora, as many of the challenges may be similar.

Will release time be provided for education workforce that access EAP during work hours?

Funding has been provided for EAP counselling services but not for teacher release time. Educators can choose when individual counselling takes place, either in their own time or during working hours and group sessions will be arranged by your head teacher or principal. If these take place during working hours then your approach should be consistent with your usual practice when accessing other support services, and the usual provisions for leave apply.

What is the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

EAP is an employment-based programme that people can access to help them deal with personal and/or work-related problems.  It offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counselling, referrals, and follow-up services. EAP is commonly offered by employers given their responsibilities to support health and safety or wellness of their employees under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

Are the counselling sessions confidential?

All communications and discussions with EAP are strictly confidential for the one-to-one counselling sessions. No identifiable details of individuals that contact EAP Services will be shared with the Ministry or the early learning service, school or kura.

What other COVID-19 wellbeing support and resources are already available for the education workforce to access?

As the Government’s lead agency, the Ministry of Health has an extensive range of specific COVID-19 information and tools to support wellbeing and hauora. Accessed through their website, this includes links and details of support organisations, self-help tools and resources, as well as advice for at-risk groups.

COVID-19: Mental health and wellbeing resources(external link)

How is this support different from what is being offered by ECE providers, kura and schools?

As the responsibility to offer services such as Employee Assistance Counselling Programmes (EACP) is with employers (ECE providers, schools and kura), EAP’s provision is intended to provide short-term supplementary services targeted to the Auckland regional workforce because of the COVID-19 resurgence.

There is particular support through group workshops on wellbeing topics that may have arisen from Alert Level 3 conditions.

When will the wellbeing online hub be available and what support will it offer?

Work is now well underway to have the hub available during term 1 2021.

From launch it will offer a comprehensive range of resources including advice, information and support including education sector specific content, and opportunities for peer to peer support.  

Further information

Your local Ministry office should be your first point of contact if you have questions or if you would like more information.

Local Ministry offices

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