Employee Benefits Overview

As a State of Tennessee employee, benefits are an important part of your total compensation package. Your complete benefit package includes, medical, dental, life insurance and a non-contributory retirement plan. As you explore the various benefits, you will notice affordable premiums, generous leave policies and additional retirement savings options. There are also benefits unique to the State that you may not find anywhere else. The Sick Leave Bank and Longevity pay are two benefits that help to make the State benefit package one of the most valuable compared to other employers. Benefits are available to all regular full-time and part-time employees.

Medical Plans

Eligible state, employees may enroll in health coverage through the state group insurance program. Available options include the Partnership PPO, and the Standard PPO. They cover the same types of services, treatments and products. However, there's an important difference between the options: If you choose the Partnership PPO, you must commit to a Partnership Promise, but you pay much lower premiums and will have lower cost-sharing for services and procedures. Plans are administered by Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

  • All options include an annual deductible
  • You can see any doctor or go to any healthcare facility you want. However, if you use an "in-network" provider, you will always pay less.
  • The out-of-pocket maximum is the most you will pay for your deductible and coinsurance each year

Dental Insurance

Optional dental insurance is available to all state plan members. Active members do not have to enroll in health coverage in order to enroll in optional dental coverage.

  • Assurant - Prepaid Plan provides dental services at predetermined copayment amounts, which are reduced fees for dental treatments when members receive service from their selected participating general dentist or from any participating specialist.
  • There are no deductibles to meet, no claims to file, no waiting periods for covered members, no annual dollar maximum and preexisting conditions are covered
  • Delta Dental - PDO Plan offers flexibility in that members may choose any dentist; however, members receive maximum benefits when visiting a participating network provider.
  • No referrals are required and you or your dentist will file claims for covered services.
  • Some services require waiting periods and limitations and exclusions apply

Vision Insurance

Vision insurance is available to all state and higher education employees and dependents. Eligible employees can choose from two plans: Basic Plan and the Expanded Plan. Both plans offer the same services, including:

  • Annual routine eye exam
  • Frames
  • Eyeglass lenses
  • Contact lenses
  • Discount on Lasik/Refractive surgery


CVS Caremark is the pharmacy benefits manager for all plan members regardless of which healthcare option you are in. The state's prescription drug plans require a copay or coinsurance. How much you pay depends on how the prescription is filled.

  • Copays are lower for certain medications from the special, less costly 90-day network
  • Members pay the lowest amount for a generic
  • Members pay a higher amount for a preferred brand
  • Members pay the highest amount for a non-preferred brand

Basic Group Term Life and Accidental Death Insurance

The state provides, at no cost to employees, $20,000 of basic term life and $40,000 of basic accidental death coverage.

  • For employees who elect health coverage, the amount of coverage increases as the employee's salary increases,
  • The maximum amount of coverage is $50,000 for term life
  • The maximum amount of coverage is $100,000 for accidental death and dismemberment.

Optional Accidental Death Insurance

This optional coverage is available on a contributory basis for employees and dependents (spouse and children) and is in addition to the basic accidental death coverage.

  • The maximum amount of coverage is $60,000
  • Coverage is available at low group rates.

Optional Term Life Insurance

This program is available on a contributory basis for employees and dependents (spouse and children) whether or not they participate in health coverage.

  • For employee guaranteed-issue coverage, the employee must enroll during the first full month of employment. Maximum amount of coverage is $500,000.
  • An application for spouse coverage may be submitted. Maximum coverage amount is $30,000.
  • A child term rider may be added to the employee or spouse certificate without any health questions. Maximum coverage amount is $10,000.

Long Term Care Insurance

This insurance covers certain services required by individuals who are no longer able to care for themselves without the assistance of others. Natural aging, a serious illness or an accident may bring on this need. Services covered include nursing home care, assisted living, home health care, home care and adult day care.

  • Benefits are available through different options based on a daily benefit amount ($100, $150 or $200).
  • The plan is guaranteed renewable, which means it can never be canceled as long as you pay your premium.
  • New state and higher education employees have 90 days to enroll and have guaranteed issue of coverage.

Long Term Disability

Regular employees scheduled to work a minimum of 30 hours per week (at least 75% full-time) are eligible to enroll in the Long-Term Disability insurance.

  • Benefits provide partial income replacement when you are unable to work due to an illness or injury.
  • The Prudential Insurance Company of Americas' plan is available to you at group rates, which are typically lower than individual rates.
  • The plans replace 50% - 70% of your pre-disability earnings to a maximum of $7500 per month.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

A flexible spending account allows you to take money from your compensation and place it into accounts for medical and dependent care expenses. These funds are not taxed, thereby potentially saving you hundreds of dollars. The money put aside in the account is then used by you to pay eligible medical and dependent care expenses.

  • Faster reimbursement - Once claims are approved, funds can be deposited in your personal bank account the next day. No more waiting until pay day.
  • Faster claims submission - Claims may be submitted electronically online, fax, or through a mobile application on your smart phone.
  • PayFlex debit card - A debit card will be provided to allow point of sale purchases without submitting a claim.
  • Online planning tools - These include savings calculators that will assist you in determining the amounts to contribute to your plan and the estimated tax savings.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Your ParTNers EAP provides confidential financial, legal and emotional counseling at no cost to members and their dependents. EAP services are offered to all full-time state and higher education employees and their eligible family members (at no cost), regardless of whether they participate in the State's Group Insurance Program. Members may receive up to five sessions per issue. Just a few of the many issues EAP can help with:

  • Stress
  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Legal Consultation
  • Adjusting to Change
  • Financial Issues
  • Child & Elder Care
  • Grief & Loss

Annual Leave

To provide regular staff and 12-month faculty with paid time away from work.

  • Employees accrue annual leave on a monthly basis on the first day of each month.
  • New hires will receive annual leave on the first day of employment.
  • Eligible regular part-time employees who begin employment on or after February 1, 2014, accrue annual leave if their planned working time as recorded in IRIS is 75 percent effort or more.

Sick Leave

To protect regular staff and 12-month faculty against loss of earnings due to personal or family (spouse, child, or parent) illness, injury, and/or due to childbirth or adoption.

  • Employees will accrue sick leave on a monthly basis on the first day of each month.
  • New hires will receive sick leave on the first day of employment.
  • Eligible regular part-time employees who begin employment on or after February 1, 2014, accrue sick leave if their planned working time in IRIS is 75 percent effort or more.

Paid Holidays

The university recognizes the following days as holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. When a recognized holiday is on Saturday, it is observed on the preceding Friday. When a recognized holiday is on Sunday, it is observed on the following Monday.

  • Employees who work or who are in active pay status all available work days in their scheduled work week receive compensation for all holidays in the work week.
  • Employees in an active pay status on the work days immediately preceding and following a holiday receive compensation for the holiday
  • Regular full-time employees are compensated for 8 hours per holiday

Personal Leave Day

Regular full-time non-exempt employees who have completed their probationary period accrue 8 hours of personal leave on the first day of the calendar year or on the first day of the month immediately following completion of their probationary period.

  • Personal leave cannot be carried forward to the next calendar year nor transferred to any other leave.
  • The use of personal leave must be approved by the appropriate supervisor.

Sick Leave Bank

The sick leave bank shall provide emergency sick leave to member employees who have suffered an unplanned personal illness, injury, or quarantine and who have exhausted their compensatory time and personal, sick, and annual leave balances.

  • The bank is for the serious illness or injury of the employee only and not for the illness or injury of immediate family members.
  • Any employee may cancel membership from the bank by written request as of June 30 of each year
  • Membership in the bank shall remain confidential and be divulged only as necessary to maintain and administer the bank.
  • The total sick leave granted to any one member shall not exceed 90 days in a 12-month period for any one illness, recurring illness, or accident.

Longevity Pay

To recognize faculty and staff for their years of service with the university and state.

  • Employees are eligible after completing 36 full-time equivalent (FTE) months of service at 82.05 percent time.
  • Longevity is paid at the rate of $100 times the number of years of years of service.
  • The maximum benefit level is 30 years.


  • Non-exempt employees are paid bi-weekly
  • Exempt employees are paid monthly

Non-Contributory Retirement - ORP & TCRS

Membership in a retirement plan is required as a condition of employment for all regular full-time employees who pay social security taxes. For regular part-time employees, membership in a retirement plan is optional.

  • Employees participating in a retirement plan must continue in a plan as long as they remain in a regular status.
  • Five years of full-time equivalent retirement creditable service must also be accrued to be eligible for ordinary disability retirement under TCRS or JCRS.
  • ORP benefits are vested immediately.

The Retirement plans (ORP & TCRS) will convert to Contributory Plans effective: July 1, 2014. Go to Benefits/Retirement for more information.

Contributory Retirement - 401(k), 457, and 403(b) plans

To allow regular employees to divert portions of their current pre-tax earnings into a deferred compensation plan through payroll reduction service.

  • Regular employees may elect through routinely scheduled payroll reductions to divert portions of their pre-tax/post-tax earnings into an IRS Code 403(b), 401(k), 401(k) Roth or 457 deferred compensation plans or a combination of these plans.
  • Enrollment in the deferred income program is voluntary.
  • The university provides a $50 per month match on the 401(k).

Tuition Assistance

To enable regular faculty and staff to perform their present duties more effectively and to assist them in preparing for future opportunities by providing a plan of educational assistance.

  • Full-time regular faculty and staff may enroll without payment of fees in up to a maximum of nine undergraduate or graduate credit hours per term.
  • Part-time regular faculty and staff working 50 percent time or more, may enroll without payment of fees based upon their percent of effort.
  • Regular full-time employees are eligible for a student fee discount for their spouses and dependent children who have been admitted to an eligible institution as undergraduate students.
  • The amount of the student fee discount shall be no more than 50 percent of the undergraduate in-state maintenance fees.

Workers Compensation

To provide medical care and compensation to eligible university employees who are injured or contract occupational illnesses in the course of employment with the university in accordance with federal workers' compensation (WC) law and state of Tennessee regulations.

  • Employees must report the incident to a supervisor on the day it occurs unless physically unable to do so.
  • The employee must seek medical treatment within one year of the injury or illness.
  • The claim must be approved by the Division of Claims (DOC) through a contracted claims management service serving as a third party administrator.