Early Christmas? Lee administration announces pay raises for most executive branch workers

Gov. Bill Lee, center, attends a budget hearing in Nashville on Nov. 9, 2022. He is joined by Finance Commissioner Jim Bryson, right, and COO Brandon Gibson. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Nearly three-fourths of executive branch employees in Tennessee can look forward to pay raises when they receive their next paychecks on Dec. 15.

Human Resources Commissioner Juan Williams and Finance Commissioner outlined the pay hikes in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday:

Dear Honorable Members of the Tennessee General Assembly,

It is with tremendous excitement that we announce the implementation of a new salary structure for Executive Branch employees.

The changes result from a statewide compensation study conducted to evaluate the State of Tennessee’s competitiveness to attract and retain best-in-class talent. Over the past six weeks, agency HROs, CFOs, and compensation leaders across the Executive Branch have been preparing to implement this historic investment in our state’s workforce. We would like to thank each of you for providing the funds necessary to keep Tennessee State Government more competitive with current market conditions.

Today, employees will receive an email communication that aligns with one of the four salary adjustment outcomes listed below:

1. Employees being brought to the minimum+ 1% of their salary grade: “It has been determined that your current salary will be increased to align with the new salary structure. You will be brought to 1% above the minimum of your new salary grade. You will be able to view your new salary in Edison starting today, which will be reflected in your paycheck on December 15, 2022.”

2. Employees receiving an adjustment due to compression: “It has been determined that your current salary will be increased to align with the new salary structure. More specifically, your salary adjustment ensures an appropriate placement within the new range to account for compression and to maintain pay equity among employees based on proficiency levels and reporting relationships. You will be able to view your new salary in Edison starting today, which will be reflected in your paycheck on December 15, 2022.”

3. Employees currently paid a market competitive salary and not receiving an adjustment: “After a careful review of your current position and salary, we are pleased to inform you that you are currently paid at or above the competitive market rate for your role. Therefore, your next opportunity for a pay increase will coincide with your annual performance evaluation.”

4. Executive Branch employees currently paid based on a different salary structure and not receiving an adjustment: “Based on your current role or circumstance, there will be no impact on your compensation from the implementation of the new Executive Branch salary structure. As a reminder, compensation adjustments to your role are determined by a separate process. Therefore, this change does not impact your immediate compensation or opportunity for increases in the future.”

Due to the allocation of funds from the State Legislature, 73% of employees who fall under the new salary structure will receive a pay increase. This is a tremendous investment and positive step forward in attracting and retaining best-in-class talent to the State.

On behalf of the Executive Branch employees of the State of Tennessee, we want to thank you for all your support. We are excited about the State’s investment in its people and showing them that the State of Tennessee is a great place to work.


Juan Williams, Commissioner of Human Resources, and Jim Bryson, Commissioner of Finance and Administrations

Lee boosts pay for Tennessee prison guards

Republican Bill Lee speaks at a rally in Franklin on Oct. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee is boosting starting pay by 37% for newly hired prison guards and hiking salaries by at least 15% for current corrections officers.

State Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston) praised the move:

“This is great news not only for the deserving workers who receive the pay raise and their families, but for the safety of all Tennesseans. These positions are extremely important to operations in our prisons and are some of the most challenging and dangerous jobs in state government.  Governor Lee’s action to increase salaries is critical in keeping our veteran officers on the job whose valuable experience helps to make our prisons safe. The increase in salaries will benefit many correctional officers and help alleviate the problem Tennessee has experienced in filling and keeping correctional officers in a very competitive labor market.”

Here’s the release from the governor’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a competitive 37% salary increase for new Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) correctional officers amid nationwide staffing challenges, effective Dec. 16.

“As we face staffing shortages across the country, rewarding officers with competitive pay will ensure we recruit and retain the most highly qualified individuals in our workforce,” said Gov. Lee. “These Tennesseans play a crucial role in ensuring public safety and we remain committed to valuing their important work.”

The 37% salary increase for new TDOC correctional officers will raise annual starting pay to $44,500. Current security staff will receive a minimum 15% pay increase.

Additionally, TDOC provides a competitive benefits package including:

  • Insurance coverage and retirement benefits
  • Paid holidays and vacation
  • Tuition reimbursement and college degree programs
  • Equipment and uniforms provided
  • Overtime/compensatory time pay

TDOC will continue to offer a $5,000 hiring bonus and part-time opportunities for current or retired law enforcement to meet staffing needs.

“The men and women who work in facilities across Tennessee are dedicated public servants,” said TDOC Interim Commissioner Lisa Helton. “This salary increase makes our agency more competitive in attracting new talent and is a well-deserved raise for those currently serving our state.”

Individuals interested in a TDOC career can find more information and apply here.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.