The Civil Service Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS) is being reformed as a shared service under central management with a regionalised delivery of service. The Employee Assistance Officer/Staff ratio is being revised to provide a more efficient service. These reforms are reflected in the Action plan drawn up on foot of the “Croke Park” agreement.
The reformed Civil Service Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS) is an important shared service element of the human resource structure of the Civil Service. The Employee Assistance Service is a work based support service designed to assist employees in managing work and life issues. At a time of change, not only in our organisations, but also in our society and in our institutions, the Employee Assistance Service has a particularly important role to play in supporting staff and management.
Employee Assistance Officers (EAOs) cover all Government Departments/Offices and provide a wide range of supports to staff and management in relation to personal or job-related problems. Previously, EAOs were members of staff of the individual Departments and worked alongside but distinct from Personnel Officers. This structure may have suited a Dublin based Civil Service, but led to an inefficient service in a decentralised environment. As EAOs covered specific Departments, it was possible that two EAOs in separate Departments could simultaneously travel to the same location to visit clients. In that situation, there were gaps in coverage in some parts of the country but also overlaps in others leading to unnecessary expense, time management and reporting issues. Central management of the service with a regional delivery will address these issues. The integration of the service under one manager will lead to a more focused planning of expenditure and, through shared utilisation of resources, generate savings in a range of areas. The regionalised delivery of service will lead to elimination of duplication. In addition, the revised staffing ratios, involving higher numbers of staff per EAO in dispersed locations, will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the service, to the benefit of both staff and management.
To underpin continued reform and modernisation, policy in respect of the CSEAS will be developed and monitored by a working group, or Board, consisting of representatives from the Department of Finance including the Chief Medical Officer, one representative of the Staff Side, and representatives from a number of Government Departments. The role of the Board is to determine the framework and broad policy for the ongoing modernisation of the CSEAS in line with Government policy and to monitor and review the effectiveness of the CSEAS. The Board will coordinate the assignment and training of Employee Assistance Officers, again in line with Government policy. Arrangements have been agreed and are underway to give effect to the reforms on a cost-neutral basis and without increasing overall staff numbers, by:
- Appointing a CSEAS manager to oversee the management and development of a pro-active CSEAS and to report to and advise the CSEAS Board in relation to the development and the strategic direction of the service. The Manager will be responsible for ensuring the timely and effective provision of service to CSEAS clients. The Manager will be responsible on a day to day basis for personnel / accommodation / administration budget issues in relation to the CSEAS;
- Assigning EAOs to ensure sufficient and appropriate coverage, consistent with approved staffing levels and the reformed EAO/staff ratios;
- Providing suitable accommodation for the central management and oversight of the service.
The Manager for the CSEAS is expected to be in place in June 2011. Assignment of EAOs to reflect the needs of staff and management, in accordance with reformed ratios and regionalised delivery of service, will then take place.