Reference Number: 
CTAS-176

Required Policies.  State law requires that counties[1] have written personnel policies in place for all county employees covering four broad areas—(1) leave, (2) wage and hour, (3) non-discrimination and harassment, and (4) drug testing for those employees who are required by law to be tested.  T.C.A. 5-23-104.  These required policies may be adopted on a countywide basis, or they may be adopted to cover different offices separately. 

Optional Policies.  In addition to the required written policies, there are many other policies that a county official may wish to put in place for effective and efficient operation of his or her office.  These administrative policies are left to the discretion of the county official.  While a county official may agree to participate in uniform policies on these optional matters, these policies are not subject to the same procedures for their adoption as are the required written personnel policies, and the official is free to change these optional policies at will. As with all personnel policies, however, an official should place a statement in the policies that lets employees know that the policies are subject to change and do not create any contractual obligation or other expectation of their continuation.[2]


[1] This law does not apply to any county with a population over 800,000 (Shelby County) or to any county with a metropolitan form of government (currently, Davidson, Moore and Trousdale counties). There are no other exceptions.

[2] See Williams v. City of Milan, 2009 WL 989775 (W.D. Tenn. 2009).  State law provides that any and all personnel policies governing county employees shall be subject to change at any time, and shall not give rise to any contractual rights or obligations between the county and its employees.  T.C.A. 5-23-106.