What is the Bradford Factor?

What is the Bradford Factor?

The Bradford Factor is a simple mathematical equation which allows businesses to calculate an absence score per employee. By applying a relative weighting to unplanned absences the Bradford Factor supports the principal that Shorter term, frequent absence has a much greater negative impact on a business compared to single instances of more prolonged absence, even if the total number of days absent was the same.

Bradford factor was developed by the Bradford University School of Management in the early 1980s, hence the name


How is Bradford Factor Calculated?


It is simply calculated by the formula S2 X D = B


S is total number of periods of absence in the calculation period

D is the total number of days in the calculation period

B is the Bradford Factor score


The higher the score the more the impact the employees absence will have been on the business.


The principle behind the weighting is as follows

Example 1

Employee A has a full week off work totalling 5 days

Bradford Factor is (1 x 1) * 5 = 5

Employee B is absent for 5 individual Mondays

Bradford Factor is (5 x 5) * 5 = 125


With ordinary absence reporting both of these employees will have been shown to have just had 5 days absence from work, however employee B with the higher score is obviously having repeated, short term absence which is much more difficult for a business to react to. Therefore, those employees with a higher score, are those a business should look to be addressing.


It is important that during the calculation of Bradford Factor safeguards are put in place to protect employees who may regularly need days away from work, for instance those undergoing treatment for a serious medical condition, those on Parental Leave which is a legal entitlement, or that it doesn’t discriminate against employees with a disability.

The Equalities Act 2010, which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, allows disabled employees to request ‘reasonable adjustments’ in situations where they are disadvantaged by generic processes. Failure to provide these reasonable adjustments, or to adequately justify why they cannot be provided, may leave the employer open to civil action for breach of the Equalities Act in an Employment Tribunal

By splitting up how absence are recorded and only using certain types in the Bradford Factor calculations this can be achieved. For instance, rather than just recording absence, reasons can be grouped together into Bradford Factor Applicable and Non Applicable.


How should businesses implement, and use, Bradford Factor?

The Bradford Factor should to supplement a company Absence Management Strategy, as a tool to help reduce absenteeism. It is an excellent method for highlighting any concerns early, and businesses should consider utilising Bradford Factor as a means of supporting employees who may be highlighted.

Although there is no set, or required, period length for calculating Bradford Factor the majority of companies already using it tend to favour a rolling 52 week period to track employee scores. That is an employee score is calculated from absences accrued over the preceding 52 weeks from the current day.

Many companies implement a trigger system, which shapes what action is taken against an employee depending on their score. Again there is no set criteria for what this score may be, however it may be something like

0 – 49 = No Cause For Concern

49 -100 = Initial Cause for Concern. This may be enough to remind the employee and communicate with them about the company policy and procedures on absence.

Communication and supporting members of staff along the way is the most crucial and effective method of managing repeated, short term absence. Employees who are well aware of the issues regarding their attendance, their impact on the business as well the potential outcome of repeated absence are more likely to respond positively.

101 – 800 = Disciplinary procedures may kick in in terms of verbal and written warnings, enhanced monitoring etc

801 + = This may give sufficient grounds for dismissal once all other avenues and absence management procedures, all contractual policies have been fulfilled and all safeguards have been met to protect employees with medical conditions, such as cancer, who may require regular time away from work.

Again, the above example is for illustrative purposes but serves as a guide as to how Bradford Factor scoring can be used as part of an organisations absence management strategy.

Posted in Absences, Bradford Factor.

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