Evaluation of employment Assistance Programmes in the Public Service


Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) were implemented in the South African Public Service to deal with various employee problems long before HIV and AIDS became known, and long before transformation imperatives generated a broader range of workplace problems to deal with. They were originally introduced to deal with
various problems that public servants encountered that had a direct bearing on their productivity in the workplace, including, inter alia:
• substance abuse and/or substance dependency;
• adaptation problems in the Public Service workplace;
• mental and personal relationship problems;
• employee conflict in the workplace;
• personnel development;
• dealing with disease (e.g. cancer); and
• need for counselling (e.g. occupational or clinical counselling).
EAPs benefit government departments by improving performance and productivity. This is done through various intervention programmes aimed at increasing attendance and avoiding absenteeism but also include activities involving communication, organisational commitment, staff turnover and dealing with interpersonal conflict. As with many other non-core products and services, the management of EAPs tends to be outsourced by
organisations. One of the main reasons for this is the need for confidentiality. When dealing with personal problems, it is essential that such problems are not spoken about openly in the workplace. From that point of view alone, it makes sense that a specialist professional function within the organisation manages often complex
personal problems. It is notable that when an employee who has problems gets help, it usually boosts the entire team. It is also often unwise for just anyone inside a department to assume the role of a therapist if a problem stems from personal circumstances, and should rather be left to an EAP Coordinator in the organisation to deal with such problems.
The EAPs in departments were found to be involved at varying levels in dealing with HIV and AIDS, namely some EAPs are not at all involved, some are involved to some extent, and some are fully involved in dealing with HIV and AIDS in the workplace.

There is no doubt that EAPs also have a significant role to play in dealing with HIV and AIDS in the Public Service due to the fact that HIV and AIDS are not solely biological diseases with physical effects, but also impact on employees in various emotional and other ways that necessitate EAP involvement.

In view of the above the PSC conducted an evaluation of EAPs in the Public Service. Specific emphasis was placed on the role of the EAPs in dealing with HIV and AIDS.


Evaluation Number:
Report Approval:
Friday, 15 December 2006
Monday, 04 March 2013
Initiated By:
Public Service Commision
Undertaken By:
Evaluation Period:
Evaluation Area:
Public service, governance, M&E
National Outcome:
National Outcome 12: An efficient, effective and development oriented public service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship.
Commissioned By:
Evaluation Type:
Evaluation Subject:
Geographic Scope:

Evaluation Documents

File Name
222 EQAT 20130319 sh_mb.pdf
213008_1_Front Row_PSC_text.pdf

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