Using Bradford Factor Scores



Bradford Factor Scores, Monitoring & Trigger Points are built into the Activ Absence Management System


The Bradford Factor Calculator


The Bradford factor calculator is just one of the absence management tools built into Activ Absence.  Managers can use it to monitor Bradford Factor scores automatically using trigger points and reporting tools.

To double-check a Bradford Factor score, you can  click here to access our handy Bradford Factor Calculator.

How to calculate a Bradford Factor Score Manually

The Bradford factor is calculated manually using the Bradford Formula S2 x D = B

  • S is the total number of separate absences by an individual
  • D is the total number of days of absence of that individual
  • B is the Bradford Factor score

The Bradford Factor allows managers to monitor absenteeism during any set period, and Activ Absence allows you to configure trigger points to automatically monitor your absence priorities.  We’d be happy to show you in a demo, just click below:

Benefits of using the Bradford Factor

Used effectively, the Bradford Factor can reduce absenteeism by serving as a deterrent and a method for tackling persistent absenteeism: Studies have shown that by educating staff about the Bradford Factor, and then showing them their score on a regular basis, absenteeism can be reduced by over 20%.

This is largely down to staff understanding that taking the ‘odd’ day off here and there will quickly multiply their Bradford Factor score – and as unplanned short term absences are hardest for an organisation to cover, this can have a positive financial impact on the business.

In summary, the Bradford Factor illustrates clearly the impact of short term absence on a business.  Once an employee understands this, they often respond in a positive way.


Bradford Factor Calculator dashboard from Activ Absence

Using the Bradford Factor in practice

Bradford Factor scores and their usage is variable.  There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to use the Bradford Factor Score.  Employers don’t have to use it, but those who do find it a useful absence management tool.

Most employers using it have a ‘set Bradford score’ that triggers an absence review, which we can set up automatically in Activ Absence. The actual Bradford score where a review is triggered varies widely among employers and will be determined by your company’s HR policy.

One example of how Bradford Factor scores can be used is taken from a public sector employer.  They monitor their staff’s Bradford score and have set the following ‘trigger points’:

  • 51 points – verbal warning.
  • 201 points – written warning
  • 401 points – final warning
  • 601 points – dismissal

Activ Absence has configurable trigger points which can be set up to monitor and alert the HR team and/or line managers when a Bradford Factor score reaches a pre-determined threshold.

In our experience, whether used for discipline or not, seeing their own bradford score has a positive effect on staff sickness because staff take pride in keeping Bradford Factor scores low.

Bradford Factor problems and limitations

The Bradford Factor and Disability

The first issue is that the scoring mechanism does not take into account certain disabilities.  The British Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005 (DDA), (replaced by the Equality Act 2010) creates a duty on employers to tailor their actions to the individual circumstances of disabled employees.  Disabilities may not be ‘visible’.

Disabilities like epilepsy or asthma are more likely to result in short term rather than long term absence.  Employers cannot discriminate against disability, therefore these protected characteristics may need to be taken into account, and may need to be recorded separately and excluded from Bradford Factor scoring.

In Activ Absence, this is easy to do by creating a separate absence type for disability related absence.  This helps you and your employee keep track of absences specifically related to that condition.  This means that your employee has a record they are able to share with their consultant if they choose – vital for staff keen to monitor seizure and asthma patterns.

Bradford Factor Calculator and short term sickness

Special Cases

The scoring mechanism does not take account of the impact of cancer or a serious but recoverable illness.

Cancer sufferers may need months off work and could easily rack up over 200 points from a single long absence, but the illness is often recoverable and staff will seek to return as soon as they are physically able.

Most employers would not want to give a written warning or other disciplinary remedies in these circumstances.  In those instances gentle, sensitive handling and implementing a return to work plan is usually more appropriate.

Again, Activ Absence can differentiate these ‘special’ absences whilst enforcing a visibly fair absence policy by creating a specific absence type, excluding it from the Bradford Factor calculator.

Who decides what is a ‘special case’?

As with any complex HR policy, when and where the Bradford Factor is appropriate is a matter for expert guidance and we ALWAYS advise seeking professional advice on each individual case from an HR Consultant or a legal specialist.  (If you don’t have your own, here is a link to the experts we recommend.)

Learn more about Bradford Factor Scores

We’re often asked how to calculate Bradford Factor Scores.

Our video below discusses the Bradford Factor and how to calculate it, and we’ve also created a handy Bradford Factor guide, free to download in our resources section.