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Definition: Seniority

It is defined as the state of being elder/older than other maybe in rank, hierarchy, age etc. Another definition states that seniority is a concept wherein a person or group of people take precedence over other people or group because the former either occupies a higher position than the other or is aged more than the latter. Seniority can exist in a office, house, society etc. It can bring a person higher rank, precedence or status in the society based on the length of time the person has served in the organization.

Example 1: In a family of four members including father, mother and two daughters, the seniority is decided based on the age of family members.

Example 2: In an office the seniority is decided based on the length of service and the designation of the people in question (depending on the gravity of the situation). In various organizations, at the time of promotion performance alongwith the years of service i.e years of service is considered as the criteria for shortlisting people.

Seniority at Workplace:

At a workplace which is represented by union, seniority drives major decisions within the organization be it regarding wages, promotions, pays & perks etc. All these conditions of decision making are agreed upon in the contract signed by the union. The same applies to skilled trade workers who are also a part of unions.

Seniority is not very important in a forward thinking organization which is less likely to give preference to senior employees unless it’s an important part of salary, promotions and other important management decisions. Seniority is just a condition here, which doesn’t guarantee a preferential treatment.

Advantages of Seniority at workplace:

1. Senior employees get the rights to decide on the time they’ll be going on vacation, holidays etc. Senior employees decide on their time for vacation rather than a lower seniority employee who just gets work holidays and has to finish off with his work and ask permission from the seniors for a vacation.

2. Seniors have the flexibility of working in the location and at times which are best suited to them so that the job becomes more enjoyable for them.

3. They are always protected from the potential layoffs occurring in the organization, hence tend to have a high level of job security compared to people with low level of seniority.

4. Being senior ensures that the person is guaranteed a promotion and rise in the job.

Disadvantages of Seniority at workplace:

1. Once a person reaches the higher ranks the career progression rate/ growth becomes very slow or else we can say that it becomes quite steady. Example. After becoming the VP –HR the person enters the pay band of a CEO and there is not much scope in terms of the income as well as the pays and perks that he gets.

2. One major disadvantage is that the organization does not reward you in the same manner as it used to reward the person earlier when he was at lower seniority level. The organization starts thinking that after spending so many years in the organization it is the person’s responsibility that the organization performs best in terms of its capability and capacity.


Hence, this concludes the definition of Seniority along with its overview.

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