Bradford Factor

The Bradford Factor combines absence frequency and duration to give a measure of the impact an employee’s absence is having on the organisation.

The Bradford factor scoring mechanism is a built-in feature of Activ Absence.  It is presented to your employees on their home page dashboard, to the managers as part of the return to work process and in the reports to monitor the overall impact that absence is having.

Bradford factor scoring is a simple way of illustrating to employees that frequent short-term absences are more disruptive to an organisation than occasional long-term absences: the higher the ‘score’, the worse the disruption.

How is the Bradford Factor Calculated?

The Bradford Factor is calculated using this simple formula:

  • S x S x D=Bradford Factor
  • S is the number of spells of absence of an individual over a given period; and
  • D is the total number of days of absence of the individual over the same period

Its easier to illustrate through some examples:

Four employees (a, b, c and d) have the same absence duration of 10 days. However, their pattern of absence is very different – as their Bradford Factor.

highlight through the weighting given to frequent short-term absence.

(a) One absence of 10 days

Bradford Factor = 1 x 1 x 10 = 10 points

(b) Three absences of one day, three days and then six days

Bradford Factor = 3 x 3 x 10 = 90 points

(c) Five absences of two days each

Bradford Factor = 5 x 5 x 10 = 250 points

(d) Ten absences of one day each

Bradford Factor = 10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000 points

This enables you to show employees how short term absence affects your business.

However it should be noted that absence due to a disability (such as epilepsy or asthma) may need to be treated differently under anti-discrimination legislation.

Bradford Factor Calculator

Do we have to use the Bradford Factor?

Some organisations use Bradford Factor scoring to discipline their staff, others don’t.  The information is visible to your employees either way and we usually find it has a positive effect on staff who take ‘sickies’ even if the organisation don’t use it as part of their disciplinary process.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to use it.  The number of Bradford points that trigger an absence review varies widely among employers.

One example of how it can be used is taken from a public sector employer.  They monitor their staff’s Bradford Factor scores 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 Bradford Factor scoring thresholds have been met.

If you decide not to use the Bradford Factor it can be hidden from the employees and managers or disabled completely.

Bradford Factor Policy Benefits

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.


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