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HR Solutions

Rethinking Seniority

in the Non-Union Workplace


   For years consultants and counselors have been telling non-union

employers that seniority should be kept out of policy and procedure and employee handbooks.  The notion was that there was no correlation between competence and longevity and that including years of service in personnel policies made a workplace sound "union."  Hence when decisions would be made about which equally qualified employee got a promotion or who stayed and who went during RIFs, for example, seniority was to be ignored.

   But faithful service should be a factor.  It indirectly is THE factor in progressive vacation schedules, and in any other paid time off that accrues with service.  

   So in other personnel practices, it should not be the only one, not even the predominant one, but a factor.  Provided no employee comes to rely on the equity he or she has in the job, there is value in loyalty, and there is some room for the assumption that those who have been around a while do know more than others who haven't.

   Seniority should count for something in deciding who goes during a layoff, but it is only one of several considerations.  Seniority should be weighed as a factor in promotion decision, but as a factor among several.  But as to how much one is paid an hour, or in the administration of discipline, it deserves little or no weight,