In Austria there are government officials who cannot be fired. Usually, they get this status after serving a certain amount of time.

In German this practice is called Pragmatisierung and seems to be specific to Austria.

I am looking for a close-enough English equivalent.

Example of usage in a sentence (XXXX is the adjective I am looking for):

A XXXX government official cannot be laid off.

The only word that comes to mind is tenured. The problem is that tenured seems to be specific to academia, whereas Pragmatisierung is not industry-specific (all sorts of civil servants, not only teachers, can get this status).

  • Does this mean that they cannot be dismissed under any circumstances or only after they have been subjected to a very rigourous dismissal procedure? Public servants in the UK can have a status that means that they cannot be dismissed arbitrarily or because of restructuring (in the latter case they have the right to re-deployment) but they are not immune to dismissal on the grounds of malpractice or the commission of a crime. It seems very strange that a public servant could be convicted of embezzling millions of euros and still not be fired.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 5 '20 at 21:37
  • Readers of Hilary Mantel will know that Thomas Cromwell had a job for life: Henry VIII beheaded him. More seriously, the most obvious unsalable official in the USA a supreme court judge. Some European states have a constitutional monarchy, in which the monarch cannot.be sacked (except by judicial assassination as with Charles I). These case. Similarly, Xi in China is now head of the CCP for life. And the first emperor of Rome owed his lifetime power to being elected tribune of the people for life - where these usually 1-year officials could not be prosecuted and could veto any law.
    – Tuffy
    Apr 7 '20 at 11:12

As is often the case with languages, some words are impossible to translate exactly into others, and there are also some words that describe specific phenomena for which there is no equivalent word in another language. To my knowledge, there isn't an English word that specifically describes a government official who cannot be fired. The closest word that comes to mind is indeed tenure, but that (as you correctly stated) is usually used in the field of academia.

In the example that you gave, you could try saying: "A permanent government official cannot be laid off." You could also describe the government official's position rather than the government official himself. For example, you could say that the official has a "life-long job" or is hired "for life", etc.

  • 1
    In Britain we have a "permanent civil service", which traditionally serves governments of different political colours - unlike in America, where each fresh administration installs it own people in senior government positions. Nonetheless to the Anglophone world in general the idea of an official who cannot be fired is a slightly foreign one. I bring no expertise whatever to this but the idea does sound inherently Germanic.
    – WS2
    Apr 5 '20 at 20:36
  • 1
    Maybe also "lifetime appointment": judiciary.senate.gov/nominations/supreme-court That term does seem to be specific to that case though, so I'm not sure. Apr 5 '20 at 20:36
  • Unlike temporary UK civil servants, or those on fixed-term contracts, it is harder to dismiss permanent ones simply because the employer does not need them any more, or wishes to downsize. However, nothing would protect any civil servant from dismissal for e.g. misconduct, excessive sick absence or poor performance. A civil servant must resign if they wish to stand for election to Parliament, although their job would be protected if they did not get elected and wished to return. Apr 5 '20 at 21:40
  • In the UK, salaried judges are employed 'during good conduct' and cannot be easily removed. Apr 5 '20 at 21:43

While the OP suggested and discarded tenure, it may be employed in areas other than academics.

From Dictionary.com (definition 4):

status granted to an employee, usually after a probationary period, indicating that the position or employment is permanent.

An example specific to government employees enjoying a permanent position would be federal judges. Federal judges enjoy lifetime tenure.

From "He Won't Be Smiling: How Federal Judges Could Be Donald Trump's Worst Nightmare"

As Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist 78, the Framers granted federal judges life tenure to protect them from undue political influence...

Even with tenure, a judge may be impeached for misconduct, such as taking bribes. I suspect that Austrian civil service law of 1979 (from which the term Pragmatisierung was derived) has a similar guard against gross misconduct.

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