n Journal of Public Administration - Buffalo City's Municipal Employee Assistance Programme - a case study




The concept of an employee assistance programme (EAP) as a workplace intervention is relatively new in the public sector. Originally it was established to assist employees with socio-economic problems. The stresses of the modern working environment, the many changes in the South African working situation and especially the advent of HIV / AIDS has changed the profile of the EAP in the public sector drastically. The EAP signifies a socially responsibility acceptance by the employer to assist the employee with certain problems The South African legislative framework provides for the protection of employees' rights in the workplace, both in the private and the public sector.

Buffalo City Municipality (BCM) in the Eastern Cape has initiated and developed and EAP for its employees. Starting off with a comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme, the full programme will be phased in over a three-year period. To set the scene for the EAP BCM engaged various service providers to assist with an HIV prevalence study and a Knowledge Attitude and Practice (KAP) study amongst all employees of the Municipality. An HIV/AIDS strategy was developed and adopted out of which an action plan for 2004-2005 was developed. It was decided to engage the services of a service provider to manage the EAP, known as the Employee Wellness Centre, to ensure confidentiality and uptake.
The challenge of an EAP lies in where the employer's responsibilities starts and ends and it is therefore of the utmost importance that the aims and objectives of the EAP are clearly defined and communicated. The EAP should also be subjected to assessment in order to ensure an effective service.


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