The Bradford Factor is a formula employers can use to monitor unauthorised absences. By calculating an individual score based on absence patterns, the Bradford Factor gives a fair way to assess when to take action against employees that are constantly calling in sick.
Why use the Bradford Factor?
The Bradford Factor is designed to help assess the impact of unplanned absences. The theory behind the Bradford Factor is that short, frequent and unplanned absences prove more disruptive to a business than longer, approved absences.
The Bradford Factor has a number of advantages and disadvantages:
Bradford Factor advantages
- The Bradford Factor is mathematical, so everyone gets the same treatment. As personal opinion on employees doesn’t figure into the decision, it’s purely fact-based and therefore arguably fairer.
- Studies have shown that when an employee knows about their Bradford Factor score and its importance, unplanned absences can be reduced by over 20%.
Bradford Factor disadvantages
- This formula doesn’t take into account any personal circumstances, such as genuine recurring medical conditions or dependents that need support.
- The Bradford Factor doesn’t accommodate patterns. Taking 3 Mondays in a row off work would only get a score of 27, but the pattern of absences may prove disruptive enough that you need to take action anyway.
It’s therefore best to use the Bradford Factor as a guide rather than a strict rule.
Bradford Factor calculator
You can calculate an employee’s Bradford Factor using the Bradford Formula, which is S2 x D = B.
‘S’ is the total number of separate absences, ‘D’ is the total number of days’ absence and ‘B’ is the Bradford Factor score.
When calculating the Bradford Factor score, employers usually monitor absences during a set period of time, such as a financial, calendar, or holiday year.
How does the Bradford Factor work?
It is the number of separate absences that affects an employee’s Bradford Factor score. So one week’s absence would result in a lower score than seven individual days off. This is illustrated in the below calculations.
One week’s absence:
- 1 separate absence2 x 7 days = score of 7
Seven individual day’s absence:
- 7 separate absences2 x 7 days = score of 343
KashFlow HR automatically calculates an individual’s Bradford Factor score, meaning you can keep track of any number of employees at once. It registers their absences as they occur, and gives you quick updates in easy-to-read reports.
It’s one of the biggest time-saving functions in HR, saving you the hassle of manually tracking, updating and calculating scores for every employee. Give it a go.
What do Bradford Factor scores mean?
There are several “thresholds”, each with their own recommended action as specified in the table below.
|50-124||Consider a verbal warning|
|25-399||Consider a first written warning|
|400-649||Consider a final written warning|
These are only suggested guidelines. As an employer, it’s up to you which scores trigger individual actions. You should also keep in mind that employees will have individual circumstances, meaning they may have different trigger points.
As mentioned above, the Bradford Factor is quite impersonal and doesn’t take individual circumstances in to account.
Employees suffering from cancer or other serious but recoverable illnesses, for example, could get a high Bradford Factor score. It wouldn’t be appropriate to give them written warnings or pursue disciplinary action though.
It’s therefore important to use the Bradford Factor as a guide or warning system rather than a strict set of rules.
It is also essential that you accommodate any employee disabilities. The British Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Equality Act 2010 state that it is an employer’s duty to tailor their actions to the circumstances of disabled employees. This means disability needs to be taken into account when assessing employee absences.
Remember that these disabilities may not be visibly obvious, such as epilepsy or asthma. Both of these examples are more likely to result in short-term absences than long-term planned leave.
In these scenarios, it may be the case that these absences are excluded from Bradford Factor scoring and recorded separately.
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