Following are samples of various personnel policies that may be used as guides to assist county officials in developing their own personnel policies. These are only examples—there are many other acceptable ways to do these policies and many other choices can be made. Always make sure that the policy accurately reflects what is done or will be done in the county and in the particular office to which it applies. Never adopt a policy that will not or cannot be followed. Consult with the county attorney to ensure that all policies are in compliance with the applicable law.
Personnel policies often use terminology that needs to be defined, such as “part-time employee” and the like. These definitions usually appear at the beginning of a personnel handbook, but they also can be placed within the policies where the terms are actually used. Regardless of where the definitions appear, it is very important to define them. When defining categories of employees, avoid referring to employees as “permanent” which could create the implication that the employee cannot not be fired except under limited circumstances. A better alternative is “regular.” The term “probationary” also can lead to the inference that an employee who has completed this period will not be fired, although if you carefully set out the terms of probationary employment (such as no accrual of benefits) this term may be used. However, you might want to call these employees “newly hired.” Also, remember that definitions are not policies—they are only used to define terms that you will later use in your policies. The following are only examples of terms that you may need to define. Do not define terms unless they are actually used in your policies.
“Full-Time Regular Employees” are those who are hired to work the county’s normal, full time, (___) hour workweek on a regular basis. These employees may be “exempt” or “non-exempt” as defined below.
“Part-Time Regular Employees” are those who are hired to work fewer than (___) hours per week on a regular basis. These employees may be “exempt” or “non-exempt” as defined below.
“Temporary Employees” are those who are engaged to work either full time or part time with the understanding that their employment will terminate upon the completion of a specific assignment. These employees may be “exempt” or “non-exempt” as defined below.
“Exempt Employees” are those who are not entitled to be paid overtime under federal wage and hour laws. Executive employees, professional employees and certain employees in administrative positions are typically exempt.
“Non-exempt Employees” are those who are required to be paid overtime at time and one-half their regular rate of pay, in accordance with federal wage and hour laws, for hours worked over forty (40) in a workweek.
“Newly Hired Employees” are those who have been employed by the county for less than (___) months. These employees accrue no benefits. They may be either “exempt” or “non-exempt.”
Employment at Will Statement
You also should include an employment-at-will statement at the beginning of the personnel handbook. It is important that employees be told that the policies do not create a contract of employment.
No policy, benefit, or procedure contained herein creates an employment contract for any period of time, or a contractual obligation of any kind. All employees will be considered employees-at-will. Employees may be terminated for failure to satisfactorily perform their duties or simply at the will of the employer, but they shall not be terminated for an illegal purpose.
Miscellaneous Sample Policies
The following policies address miscellaneous issues that the employer may want to include in a personnel handbook.
All new employees shall be residents of County or shall become residents of County within six (6) months after employment. Any applicant for employment residing outside County must sign a statement prior to gaining employment status indicating the employee’s willingness to move his or her place of residence. Employees of County must continue to reside within County as long as their employment continues.
All employees of County, employed as of the effective date of this residency requirement, shall be allowed to maintain their existing residences and shall not be required to move into County. Upon moving from the residence an employee maintained as of the effective date of this requirement, the employee must move into County, as provided by these rules and regulations. All employees are required to furnish their employer with notice of a change of address within thirty (30) calendar days of locating to a new residence.
An individualized personnel file will be maintained on each employee. It is the responsibility of each employee to provide accurate information to the employer. Employees also are responsible for reporting to the employer any change in the information that they have previously provided. Providing false information is a misdemeanor under T.C.A. § 39-16-504.
Upon initial employment, all employees are required to complete a Form I-9 to attest that they are lawfully eligible to work in the United States. Employees are further required to supply to the employer copies of documents proving this eligibility.
Part-time employees [defined in the definitions section] are not entitled to receive any benefits set out in the policies of County except where expressly and specifically provided otherwise. These policies are not intended to establish paid leave of any kind for part-time employees.
Employees may take one (1) fifteen (15) minute rest period for each four (4) hours worked. Such rest periods shall be considered a privilege and not a right, and shall never interfere with proper performance of the work responsibilities and work schedule of each department. Break time shall not reduce working time under FLSA.
The compensation plan of this office or department is established by assigning each job classification a salary grade which reflects the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to fill that position. Each employee will be compensated based upon the salary grade that is assigned to his or her position. No full-time employee shall be paid at a rate less than the base rate nor more than the maximum rate for a position as set out in the compensation plan.
The compensation plan establishes a salary range within each job. It is designed to provide for merit pay increases to employees as a reward for ability and performance and to compensate employees for their increased value to this county.
Merit pay increases are not automatic. Increases will be granted only upon the recommendations of the employer and will be based upon the ability and performance of the employee.
An employee whose services are being terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily, shall be paid for all regular earnings that are due and accrued plus all accrued vacation time, overtime and compensatory time. The employee will not be compensated for any unused sick leave days. In the event of death, the amount owing to the employee shall be paid to the employee’s beneficiary designated in writing for this purpose. If no beneficiary has been designated, amounts owing at the time of death will be paid to the surviving spouse, surviving children, or to the estate, as may be required by law.
An individual covered by the employee health plan has the right to seek continued health coverage upon the occurrence of certain events, such as termination of employment, which might affect that individual’s coverage. The employee or covered individual should consult the health care plan administrator.
 See Williams v. City of Milan, 2009 WL 989775 (W.D. Tenn. 2009).