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generally I associate "seniority" in the workplace with where an employee in the organizational hierarchy, and not with the amount of time an employee has been with the company.

This term often comes up in board meetings. In the language of the land I live in, Hebrew, there are two distinct words used- ותק (vetek- the amount of time an employee has been employed at a company) and בכירות (bechirut- low-level vs high-level employees).

Are there two distinct terms in English for this?

Thanks!

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2 Answers 2

In my experience, the noun seniority almost always refers to length of service, but the adjective senior may not. Senior is often used to characterize people according to their position in the hierarchy ("...according to a senior advisor to the president"), and is a formal part of some job titles indicating a superior position ("Senior Software Developer"). So a junior employee can have seniority over a senior employee.

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+1, but in the context of employment, I would say that seniority always refers to length of service. See: humanresources.about.com/od/workplaces-organizations/g/… –  JeffSahol Apr 9 at 17:27
    
Ok... as a follow up, then, is there a term in English indicating how senior (in rank) an employee is in the organization? –  Ilanysong Apr 9 at 17:51
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@Ilanysong, I would use "rank" or "level" to indicate this, preferring "level" to indicate their pay grade, while either is an indication of how much responsibility/authority their position holds. In fact, you could say that the rank/level actually goes with the position, while seniority goes with the person, regardless of rank (until you start getting into complex union rules maybe :)) –  JeffSahol Apr 9 at 20:42

To the best of my knowledge, there's no exact term for this like 'seniority', but 'longevity' will explain exactly what you are describing.

Examples of usage with relation to working: 1 2

Meaning:

lon·gev·i·ty [lon-jev-i-tee, lawn-]

  1. a long individual life; great duration of individual life: Our family is known for its longevity.
  2. the length or duration of life: research in human longevity.
  3. length of service, tenure, etc.; seniority: promotions based on longevity.
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I've definitely heard of "longevity" in its first and second denotations- I'm not familiar with the third. –  Ilanysong Apr 9 at 17:50

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