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

Health Insurance Premiums

Eligible state employees may enroll in health coverage through the state group insurance program.  Available options include the Partnership PPO, the Standard PPO, the Wellness Health Savings CDHP, and the Health Savings CDHP.

All options covers the same type of services, treatments and products. You will pay lower premiums and will have lower cost-sharing for services and procedures, if you choose the Partnership PPO.

 However, there’s an important difference between the options: Individuals who select the Partnership PPO or the Wellness HealthSavings CDHP must commit to the Partnership Promise each year. 

 Plans are administered by Cigna(Local Plus Network) and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee(Network S). 

Introducing a new decision tool –Alex.  Alex, is your confidential, personal online benefits expert that can help you compare your insurance options that work best for you.

  •  All Options include the annual deductible 
  • Some services require that you pay co-insurance after you meet a deductible
  • Some services require that you pay co-pay(instead of a deductible and co-insurance).
  • The out-of-pocket maximum is the most you will pay for your deductible and co-insurance each year.  It does not include your co-pays. 
  • You can see any doctor or go to any health care facility you want.  However, if you use an "in-network" provider, you will always pay less. 

Dental Plans 

Dental Insurance Premiums

Optional dental insurance is available to all state plan members. In 2016, the Prepaid Plan will be administered by Cigna(DHMO)and the Dental Preferred Provider Organization by MetLife(DPPO). Active members do not have to enroll in health coverage in order to enroll in optional dental coverage.


 Cigna – Prepaid Plan

To receive benefits, you must select a dentist from the Prepaid Plan list and notify Cigna of your selection. You can search for participating dentists on Cigna's website.

 There are some areas in the state where the network dentists are not available. Be sure to carefully review the provider directory. Some dental offices may be closed to new enrollment.

You must use your selected dentist to receive benefits.

The plan provides services at predetermined member copay amounts (reduced fees) for dental treatments.

There are no deductibles to meet, no claims to file, no referrals, no waiting period and no annual dollar maximum. Pre-existing conditions are covered


MetLife - PDO Plan

Use any dentist (receive maximum benefits when visiting an in-network MetLife DPPO provider).  Member pays coinsurance for covered services. Deductible applies for basic and major dental care only.

  • You or your dentist will file claims for covered services. Referrals are not required.
  • Some services (e.g. crowns, dentures) require a 6-month waiting period before benefits begin.
  • Other services (orthodontics, replacement of missing tooth) require a 12-month waiting period before benefits begin. There are some limitations and exclusions, (e.g. no benefit for cosmetic reasons, congenital malformations, diagnosis or treatment of TMJ.
  • You pay coinsurance for many covered services and your share is based on the "maximum allowable charge" (MAC) for a given service.
  • You will pay less out-of-pocket when seeking care from a network provider because network dentists and specialists typically agree to the allowable charge up front.
  • Out-of-network providers typically charge more than the allowable charge, resulting in higher costs for you.


Vision Insurance

Vision Insurance Premiums

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 Programs

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

Contributory Retirement- ORP & TCRS

All regular full-time employees are required to enroll in a retirement plan. Regular part time employee’s enrollment is optional. Employees who are non-US citizens on F-1 or J-1 visas are not eligible for retirement membership. Non-exempt employees are automatically enrolled in the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Hybrid (TCRS). TCRS is a defined benefit and contributory plan which requires 5 years of service to vest. Exempt employees have the option to elect the TCRS Hybrid or Optional Retirement Program Hybrid (ORP). The ORP is a defined benefit and contributory plan with no vesting requirements.  Both retirement options require a monthly employee contribution of 5%.

  • 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.

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).
  • The university provides additional 5% per month contribution on the 401(k) to TCRS Hybrid members.

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.