New legislation brings clarifications to confidentiality and Employee Assistance Program 

Washington state Capitol Building

By Janet McIntosh 

ICSEW Executive Co-secretary 

OLYMPIA--Some legislation signed into law this year will bring some changes to the state Employee Assistance Program, EAP. Substitute Senate Bill 5564, will eliminate some ambiguity concerning confidentiality laws in accordance with the EAP. The state’s EAP is a free, confidential program to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of state public service employees. 

On June 9, a new chapter was added to RCW 49.44 stating any personally identifiable information gathered, must be kept confidential. 

There are few limited exemptions, such as in the case of an employee who was formally referred to the EAP as condition of continued employment.  The other exception is when there is a perceived threat to the individual or the public.   

Every state government employee, as well as any adults in their household, can use the EAP to address their work and life concerns in up to three free counseling sessions per issue.  However, your choice to participate or not participate, cannot impact decisions regarding job security, promotions, disciplinary actions or other rights.