NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday signed his plan to overhaul state civil service rules that make it easier for executive branch employees to be hired and fired, and allow merit raises for high-performing workers and pay decreases for poor ones.
The Republican governor put his name to the legislation in a ceremony across from the state Capitol. He was joined by state employees, legislators and members of his cabinet.
The bill will also require written performance standards and annual evaluations, set a minimum of three candidates to be interviewed for openings, and reduce the minimum layoff notice from three months to 30 days.
Veterans and their spouses will also receive preference if there are two candidates with equal qualifications and one is a veteran.
Haslam said the legislation is necessary because over the next five years nearly 40 percent of state employees will be eligible for retirement.
“In facing this challenge, it is our responsibility to build a top notch workforce for the future,” said Haslam, who lauded the team effort among state employees and lawmakers in making the legislation possible.
“I think we started with some things we thought were really important, but in the process there were a lot of voices that added to it and made the bill one that could pass and will work well when implemented,” he said.
Note: News releases from the governor and TSEA below.
News release from Tennessee State Employees Association::
NASHVILLE – This morning the TEAM Act, the bill that reforms the state’s civil service system, was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam. Through a bipartisan effort in the legislature and through productive negotiations with the Governor’s administration, TSEA was able to help transform the original bill into a much better piece of legislation.
“State employees and their families can rest easier knowing important job protections that exist under the current civil service system are still in place in the new law”, said TSEA President Phil Morson.
As we look toward the future, TSEA shares the Governor’s interest in a better, more efficiently run state government. We are interested in solutions that are fair and effective, solutions that provide state employees with the best opportunities to succeed. An effective state employment system ensures that hard-working state employees can keep their jobs as well as have opportunities to earn better pay for a job well done. An effectively designed performance evaluation system objectively measures every state employee’s performance equally and creates an environment where all have an equal opportunity to succeed. TSEA will continue to work with the administration to ensure the TEAM Act is implemented properly and remains both fair and effective.
TEAM Act implementation timeline:
§ April 24th 2012 – TEAM Act signed in to law by Governor Haslam
§ July 1, 2012 – TEAM Act goes into law for purposes of developing and promulgating rules
§ October 1, 2012 – TEAM Act goes into full effect.
§ July 1, 2013 – First day new Performance Evaluation system/scores can be used to address layoffs or merit pay.
§ January 1, 2014 – layoff notice period shifts from 60 days (beginning in October 2012) to 30 days.
Present rules regarding RIF’s, including the 90 day notice period, remain in effect until October 1, 2012. The notice period then changes to 60 days until January 1, 2014, at which point it will shift to 30 days.
TSEA is a nonprofit association existing to provide a strong unified voice with which it advocates the work-related interests of members. The attainment of association objectives will ensure a better life for our members and will attract and retain an effective, efficient state workforce to provide services for all Tennesseans. TSEA was established in 1974. For further information, visit the Web site at www.tseaonline.org.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Joined by state employees, legislators and members of his Cabinet, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today signed the Tennessee Excellence, Accountability and Management (TEAM) Act into law on the Tennessee Tower plaza across from the State Capitol in Nashville.
“State government’s role is to provide services that Tennesseans aren’t able to get on their own, and I believe it is my job to make sure we’re providing them in the most customer-focused, efficient and effective way,” Haslam said just before signing the bill into law. “In the next five years, almost 40 percent of state employees will become eligible for retirement, and in facing this challenge, it is our responsibility to build a top notch workforce for the future.
“For decades, employment decisions in state government have been based solely on seniority with job performance never being considered, and employees have either received modest, across the board pay increases or nothing at all. No one has been able to convince me that is a good way to manage our employees or serve our taxpayers. We have to do better. It is what hard working employees deserve and what taxpayers expect.”
The TEAM Act calls for two divisions of state service: preferred service and executive service. Executive service employees remain “at-will” as they currently serve. Preferred service replaces the traditional “career service” designation and preserves a streamlined appeals process along with other considerations.
Some of the changes to the state employment system made by the legislation include:
· A new hiring system that requires agencies to define minimum qualifications and to identify specific knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies required for each position.
· Veterans and their spouses will receive interview preference for both appointments and promotions, and if there are two candidates with equal qualifications, knowledge, skills, etc., preference will be given to the veteran.
· An overhaul of the state’s performance evaluation system to provide for performance standards and expected outcomes that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time sensitive (SMART goals).
· In the event of a layoff, job performance becomes the primary consideration followed by seniority, abilities and disciplinary record, which also must be considered.
· A new nine-member board of appeals to conduct a streamlined, three-step appeals process.
· And a mediation process will also be established by the Department of Human Resources through rules.
“I appreciate all of the state employees that have been part of this discussion,” Haslam said. “From the groups across the state who spent time with us last fall and were willing to give us real-world examples of the challenges they face every day; to the leadership and training organizations that are focused on professional development and growth opportunities for state employees; to the Tennessee State Employees Association who worked with us throughout this process, their involvement was productive and played a valuable role.”
Sponsors of the TEAM Act include Sens. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), and Reps. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) and Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville).