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Back to Policy Section VII: Personnel
Section VII: Personnel

Policy Number: VII-6.00(A)

University of Maryland, College Park Faculty Staff Assistance Program Policy

(Approved by the President )

I. Purpose of FSAP:

The University of Maryland at College Park recognizes that there are a wide variety of personal problems that could potentially affect an employee's health, productivity and general well-being. Some of these problems include: marital or family difficulties; depression; anxiety; dependence on alcohol or other substances or working/living with someone who is chemically dependent; job stress; financial, legal or medical problems, to name only a few. It is in the interest of the University Health Center to provide a resource to all faculty and staff so that the above problems can be addressed in a professional and confidential manner. There is the potential for these problems to have a devastating impact on one's personal and professional well-being. The purpose of the FSAP is to address these problems in an attempt to minimize their impact and to provide an opportunity for personal growth.

II. Program Guidelines

  1. FSAP Services:
    1. The FSAP staff is available on a full-time basis to: 1) meet with individual faculty and staff about their personal concerns; 2) consult with supervisors and department heads regarding concerns over one of their employees; and/or 3) consult with a group to enhance working relationships and to assist with the overall development of the working group.
    2. An FSAP Counselor will provide an assessment and make appropriate recommendations or referrals that can most effectively and efficiently address the problems. One option is to resolve the problem through short-term counseling with the FSAP Counselor. This option allows those employees with insufficient resources to still receive needed assistance that they would otherwise be unable to afford.In other situations where a referral is warranted, the FSAP Counselor will base his/her recommendation on: 1) the practitioner/program's effectiveness; 2) the employee's ability to pay; and 3) geographical and time accessibility. The Counselor will always follow up with employees to assure that a successful referral was made. The employee is responsible for payment directly to the referral source (if necessary) but attempts are always made to utilize those services which will be reimbursed by the employee's health insurance or health maintenance organization (HMO).
    3. The FSAP Staff are available to deliver orientations to groups of faculty and staff to explain the availability of services through the FSAP or to address a variety of mental health, stress management and/or substance abuse issues.
    4. Supervisor and Department Head Consultations: The FSAP staff are available to any supervisor and department head to discuss methods of intervening with an employee whose job performance has deteriorated due to a personal problem. Supervisor steps in referring an employee to the FSAP are discussed in section 2C. It is not the role of the supervisor to diagnose the personal problem. The supervisor has the right and the responsibility to address deteriorating job performance through progressive disciplinary steps. While a referral to the FSAP should not in any way be seen as a disciplinary action, it can occur simultaneously with a disciplinary action. Whether or not an employee follows through with a referral to the FSAP is entirely up to them, as the FSAP is a voluntary program.Employees who meet with an FSAP Counselor as a result of a supervisor referral are provided the same services as "self-referred" employees, i.e., no information will be shared with a supervisor unless expressly stated by the employee through a signed consent form. The exception to this would be when the referral is made as a condition of continued employment. In this case, the FSAP Counselor is able to inform the supervisor as to whether or not the referred employee is following through with the recommendations made by the Counselor. Supervisors should not rely on whether or not the employee has participated in the FSAP when re-evaluating their performance. The only criterion to be used should be the job performance itself.
    5. Departmental Consultations: The FSAP Staff are available to assist departments by addressing issues that affect the entire department. Examples of problem areas that can be addressed through this service included: morale problems; stress management; coping with difficult co- workers, patrons, students, etc.; response to tragic events, e.g., death/suicide of co-worker, accidents, etc. This service can be provided either through individual contact with the interested party or by working with a group or groups within the department.
  2. Referral Sources:
    1. Self-referrals: If faculty or staff members become aware of their own personal problems (whether or not they are having an impact on their work), they are encouraged to use the FSAP voluntarily on a confidential basis. Self- referred employees who wish to maintain their privacy must arrange appointments on their own time (e.g., lunch break; before or after their duty hours based on the availability of the FSAP staff; sick or annual leave, etc.) Self- referred employees who wish to inform their supervisor of FSAP attendance may receive official duty time while at the FSAP for their assessment interview(s). This option may differ from one department to the next.
    2. Union Referrals: The support and active participation of labor organizations is essential and a key element in the success of the FSAP. Because of their unique positions within the university, union officers, stewards and members may often be the first people to become aware of a personal problem with one of its members. A referral to the FSAP based on concern for the employee's health and welfare may often be more readily acceptable than a referral made by his/her supervisor.
    3. Personnel Referrals: Supervisors and department heads who are seeking guidance from Personnel and Employee Relations regarding disciplinary action should be reminded of the services of the FSAP.
    4. Supervisor/Department Head Referrals: It is the responsibility of each supervisor to provide explicit expectations for each employee, and to regularly evaluate their work performance. When an employee's work performance is inadequate, the supervisor must advise the employee of the deficiency and allow an opportunity to correct the problem. Early confrontation of inadequate work performance will generally be most helpful in returning employees to full productivity. When the supervisor determines that ordinary supervisory methods of intervention are not bringing about improvement in an employee's performance, the supervisor may choose to:* Discuss the situation with an FSAP Counselor. At these supervisory consultations, the Counselor acquires a good understanding of the employee's performance problems and assists the supervisor in referring the employee, if appropriate.* Offer the employee a referral to the FSAP. The supervisor referral to the FSAP should be written as well as oral. The written referral is the supervisor's record that an offer of counseling has been made to the employee. The counselor assists the supervisor in preparing this memorandum during supervisory consultation sessions. The written referral should only:
      1. document the inadequate work performance;
      2. specify that neither the documentation nor the referral to the FSAP constitutes a disciplinary action;
      3. indicate that the supervisor has spoken to the FSAP Counselor; and
      4. offer the FSAP service to the employee.The memorandum should not be placed in the employee's official personnel file. This memorandum should be placed in the supervisor's own system of records, one to which only he/she can access. If an adverse action is taken against an employee who received a written offer of FSAP assistance and who subsequently denies having received it, the written referral may become part of the adverse action file as the supervisor's record of compliance. A copy of this memorandum should also be given to the employee.* The supervisor may allow a reasonable period of time, as determined jointly by the supervisor and counselor, for the employee's work performance to improve. Because of this, it is often recommended (according to individual circumstances) for self-referred employees to inform their supervisor that they are currently seeking assistance for a personal problem, if the problem is having a noticeable impact on their job performance.If client permission is given to the counselor to speak with the supervisor, the counselor will usually give the supervisor some idea what he/she should expect regarding a turnaround in the employee's performance. Generally, the knowledge that the employee is actively pursuing assistance to deal with their problem may be enough for the supervisor to allow a sufficient amount of time for the employee to recover. An approximation of how long that will take should be supplied by the counselor.* If acceptable job performance does not come about after the decided upon period of time, it then becomes the supervisor's responsibility to consult with the appropriate personnel manager in order to consider the next administrative action* The supervisor is responsible for evaluating the job performance of his/her employee, and not for the diagnosis of the problem itself. The diagnosis of the problems are to be conducted by the FSAP counselors, who are trained in the area of problem assessment and finding appropriate referrals and assistance to address these problems.
  3. ConfidentialityRegardless of the nature of the referral, the FSAP counselor will not disclose any information about a participating employee to the employee's supervisor (or any other individual) without the employee's written consent. The FSAP counselor will discuss the Consent Form which the employee has the option to sign, but is not required to do so. The FSAP counselor may inform the supervisor of the employee's progress only if the employee signs the Consent Form. Included on the Consent Form will be the client's name; counselor's name; names of individuals or programs that may be contacted; purpose for contacting them; specific information to be divulged or received; and length of time that the signed consent covers. There is also a statement on the Consent Form explaining an employee's right to revoke their consent (in writing) at any given time. The Consent Form is also explained thoroughly and read to employees who acknowledge difficulty with reading.If the employee chooses not to sign the Consent Form, the FSAP Counselor may not disclose any information to the supervisor, except whether or not the employee made or kept appointments during duty hours. The Consent Form may also be used when the counselor refers an employee to a community resource. In this instance, the signed consent allows the community resource to provide to the FSAP counselor, not the supervisor, information about the employee's progress.The only exception to the above rules of confidentiality are as follows: the FSAP counselor may report to appropriate authorities information regarding an employee's dangerousness to themselves or to someone else, i.e., the employee must be imminently in danger of harming themselves (suicidal) or someone else (homicidal) before the counselor can break confidentiality. The FSAP counselor is required by the State of Maryland to report to the Department of Protective Services any physical evidence of child abuse. The final exception to the above confidentiality regulations is when a counselor is subpoenaed to appear in court. Even under these circumstances, no information, documentation or notes will be released without a court order.No employee's job security or promotion opportunity will be jeopardized by a request for counseling or outside referral assistance from the FSAP.
  4. Scope of ClientsThe FSAP provides assessment, referral and/or counseling services on a confidential basis to all faculty and staff who seek these services. This includes full time, part time, and contract employees. Services provided are the same for both self-referred and supervisor-referred employees. Services are also provided to family members of employees whenever the caseload allows.
  5. Procedures for Intervening with an Employee Who is Suspected of Alcohol and/or Drug IntoxicationIt is important for supervisors to avoid making quick judgments about potential alcohol or drug use by an employee. When a supervisor suspects that an employee is currently unfit for duty, immediate referral for medical evaluation, according to the guidelines below, is the appropriate action. It is always better to refer the employee when you detect the problem, rather than after they have returned the following day.When an employee does not appear to be fit for duty, the supervisor should immediately inquire about his/her physical condition but should be aware that physical symptoms usually related to alcohol/drug use may apply to other health problems as well. If, in the opinion of the supervisor the employee is currently unfit-for-duty, they should take the following steps:
    1. If the employee appears unfit-for-duty, refer them immediately to the Health Center (or to the hospital when the Health Center is closed) for a fitness-for-duty evaluation. If the employee refuses to go the Health Center or hospital, contact a family member to make arrangements to be picked up from work. DO NOT ALLOW THE EMPLOYEE TO DRIVE. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to call an ambulance or the police.
    2. It is helpful if you alert the Health Center before bringing the employee.
    3. The Health Center physician is permitted to inform the supervisor of whether the employee is a) able to return to work; b) is being detained in the Health Center for bed-rest or some other time-consuming treatment; c) has been referred directly from the Health Center to an outside medical facility; or d) has been advised to go home.