The difference between civil servants and other governmental employees

There is a significant difference between appointed civil servants and other governmental employees. There are various rules that apply to civil servants and not to other governmental employees, for example appointments for a post and period of appointment.


The difference between civil servants and other governmental employees

  • Who are civil servants?

    Civil servants are entitled to certain benefits according to the Government Employees Act, No 70/1996. They have more security in their employment and special rules apply to them that don't apply to other governmental employees.

    The Government Employees Act has a list of which employees are considered civil servants:

    • The Head of Staff of the Althing, the State Auditor General, the Ombudsman of the Althing.
    • The Secretary to the President, Permanent Secretaries of ministries, directors in ministerial offices, ambassadors, and counsellors in the foreign service.
    • Justices of the Supreme Court, Secretary to the Supreme Court and regional court judges.
    • The Director of Public Prosecutions, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and other prosecutors.
    • The Solicitor General, the State Mediator and the Ombudsman for Children.
    • District magistrates, the State Police Chief and the Deputy State Police Chiefs, Police Chiefs and Deputy Police Chiefs, the Head of the State Policy Academy, Director of Immigration Office and police officers.
    • Director of Customs and customs officers.
    • The State Director of Prisons, prison directors and prison wardens.
    • The Director of Internal Revenue, the Director of Tax Investigations, full-time members of the Appelate Tax Committee.
    • The State Veterinarian.
    • Heads of state agencies and state enterprises not listed above.
  • Appointment to posts

    Civil servants are appointed for a fixed term of five years at a time, unless otherwise stated by law. Before the year 1996, when this act came into effect, civil servants were appointed for an indefinite time which basically meant a lifelong employment. Those that were appointed before 1996 kept this right and some are still in employment. When such rights are kept after new legislation comes into effect this is known as a “sunset clause”.

    If an individual has been appointed to a post for five years, they shall be informed no later than six months before their term of appointment expires whether the post is going to be advertised as vacant. If this is not done, their term of appointment is automatically extended by five years, unless they wish to resign.

  • A special committee investigating alleged misconducts in office

    A civil servant can be temporarily relieved of their post if they are suspected to have committed some kind of a misconduct in office.

    In the case where a civil servant has been temporarily relieved of their post because of alleged misconduct in office, their case shall be investigated without delay by a committee of specialists to discover whether they should be permanently relieved of their duties, or if they should resume their post.

Did you find the content of this page helpful?