Seniority considerations are often used in organizational management. They are critical issues because are applied in the decision-making process with regards to such important workplace aspect as employer-employee relationship. Seniority is problematic and therefore, there are certain advantages as well as disadvantages associated with it. This issue can be determined in different ways, depending on what is most suitable for an organization. Seniority considerations are also crucial in decision-making process with regards to the cases of promotions, layoffs and recall actions. Hence, it is important to analyze this issue, considering all of its benefits and drawbacks to figure out why it is still used in determining these processes that are highly valuable to employees.



Seniority considerations are critical issues in the modern world. There are certain advantages and disadvantages associated with it. This research paper focuses on clarifying how seniority is determined and which methods applied in labor agreements when considering seniority during the promotional decision. It also includes the explanation why seniority is often used in such processes as layoff and recall actions.

Seniority Considerations as Critical Issues

The origin of seniority considerations is in the nature of employer-employee relationship. This issue has been one of the worker’s primary responsibilities to retain employees as long as the latter could perform the required tasks (Arora, 2009). Seniority is important because it is the criterion used in various employment decisions with regards to promotions and layoffs based on the length of an employee’s service in a particular company or a department. Employers often practice retaining and advancing older workers. Employees who have the longest experiences within an organization are considered the most competent and dependable individuals. Hence, seniority considerations are critical issues because they are crucial factors in organizational decision-making processes which are important to workers (Walsh, 2009). 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Seniority

There are certain advantages and disadvantages associated with the seniority considerations. Among the benefits with regards to the seniority-based promotions, there is an opportunity of employees getting to experience a variety of jobs on their career path up to the promotional ladder as they stay for the time long enough for new openings to develop (Billikopf, 2006). Besides, it is rather easy to measure the length of employment to judge the seniority. Moreover, this system is fully supported by the trade unions (Randhawa, 2007). Another benefit linked to the seniority considerations is cooperation. In the environment, where this issue prevails, cooperation and collaboration between employees is generally not impeded by competition for promotions that are clearly subjectively determined. Finally, one of the major advantages associated with the seniority considerations is that workers do not have to look for the non-productive ways to gain supervisor’s favor in order to gain advancement in their career as well as avoid the layoff or recall. For example, if the ranch interest or policy is violated by the  supervisor’s direction, employees would have much less fear of the supervisor’s punishment for not following it (Billikopf, 2006). Seniority creates a sense of security, reduces labor turnover, and rewards loyal employees (Randhawa, 2007).

Among the disadvantages associated with the seniority, there is the fact that workers with the longest employment history may not necessarily be the most competent (Randhawa, 2007). Another drawback of the seniority considerations is the fact that some ambitious employees would be impatient in waiting for their turn to receive a higher-level position that they are willing to obtain working hard enough for it. Besides, in such environment it is difficult to reinforce employee’s motivation to work well and improve performance. In addition to these disadvantages, there is a possibility of the long-term underrepresentation of the minorities, such as ethnic groups, immigrants and women, because they are most likely the last to be hired, and thus, they have the least seniority. Finally, employers would prefer to hire more qualified individuals at the primary level so that they would possess the wider capacity for advancement. Since the entry level job most often offers lower salary than the upper level job, many highly skilled professionals may refuse to work in the organization with the seniority-based system (Billikopf, 2006).

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How Seniority is Determined?

Seniority is determined in different ways, depending on what fits the organizational structure best. In some cases, it is defined by the worker’s most recent hire date into a certain position. Employees are usually prioritized in the alphabetical order if both workers have the same number of employment hours. Another way of determining seniority is by full-time months of work from the most recent employment break. When workers have the same number of months, then the staff member who has the most recent appointment date is considered the “junior” employee (“Layoff Guide for Managers”, n.d.). 

Methods Used in Labor Agreements

Seniority is one of the most important features of the American labor agreements. There are two types of seniority presented in the labor contract. The first is usually plant seniority which refers to the length of time spent within an organization. The second is departmental seniority which refers to the amount of time spent within a certain department (Strecker, 2011). The methods that are used in these agreements are important in considering seniority while making decisions regarding promotion. The first method takes into consideration the employees’ continuous service represented by the maximum number of years worked for the company and assigns the highest levels of promotion to the ones who worked the longest (Holley et al, 2011). Another method assumes filtering employees and assigning one set of workers to the groups of seniors and another to the group of juniors. Promotions are distributed following the alphabetical order of the senior employees first (Kearney et al, 2014).

Seniority in Layoff and Recall Actions

According to the National Industrial Conference Board study, during the process of a reduction in an organization’s department, individuals having the lowest seniority or, in other words, the least amount of experience with this organization, assuming that their ability and willingness to work for it is relatively equal, would be the first ones to be laid off. In the employee’s mind, seniority is rather impersonal standard which is used to minimize possible employer favoritism and discrimination towards the workers in matters that may affect the employee’s job (Dobbin, 2009). Hence, seniority is the basis for the decision-making process with regards to layoffs, recall actions and involuntary transfers of employees from one position to another, and the law supports such actions. For example, according to the Public Act 102, “individual performance” is the major factor affecting decisions concerning layoff towards teachers. However, at the same time, this law still allows seniority to be used as the determinant whether all other factors differentiating those staff members are equal (Spalding, 2014).

There are some more additional arguments why seniority may be used in layoffs and recall actions. First, it is believed that the longer an employee has worked for a company, the more loyalty he had developed. Second, if a senior worker is laid-off, it would be more difficult for him to find a new job at the fair equivalent pay and the level of benefit than a junior one. Third, layoffs and recall actions by merit rather than by seniority may lead to the law suits regarding age discrimination in case older employees are terminated disproportionately by an organization (Billikopf, 2006).


Thus, this research paper focused on explaining the importance of the seniority considerations. It covered its benefits and drawbacks as well as the ways the seniority is determined. Labor agreement methods in seniority considerations when making the promotional decision are also emphasized in the paper. Finally, the major reasons of seniority being used in layoffs and recall actions have been explained.

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