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What is The Bradford Factor and how is it used by HR?

One of the most useful tools for monitoring absenteeism by HR Managers is the Bradford Factor, which allows employers to calculate just how much of impact individuals can make with their unplanned absences. In particular frequent short-term sick absences are always a cause for concern, particularly within small businesses where their effect is often more pronounced because the workforce is smaller.

Going off a relatively simple mathematical formula, the Bradford Factor helps employers and HR teams to understand sudden absences in quite simple terms. The formula works by applying relative weighting to the frequency of absences and the amount of days taken off.

It works on the basis that repeated absences have more of an impact on your daily operations than long-term sicknesses. For example, one week-long stint of unplanned absence isn’t as costly to business as someone taking the same number of days off over multiple separate occasions.

Is it a fair system?

This method provides a strong and objective insight so HR can determine if and when to take any action against employees for poor attendance. The mathematical nature of the Bradford Factor means that everyone is measured against the same yardstick, as it were, making it a fair way to track absence patterns.

One particular caveat, however, is that employees are entitled to take time off for any care issues of their dependants. Whether their child needs taking to hospital or an elderly relative’s care worker isn’t available at the last minute, such unplanned absences shouldn’t be included in the calculations of their Bradford Factor score.

The system is also flexible, allowing employers to set slightly different trigger points for employees with mitigating circumstances, such as existing medical conditions or disabilities. Those who are more likely to take sudden and unexpected days off at different times should have their specific situations taken into account before employers pursue any disciplinary action.

How Bradford Factor helps you understand unplanned absences

How to use the Bradford Factor

The Bradford Factor uses a fairly simple formula, presented as S² x D = B where:

  • S is the total number of separate instances of unplanned absence,
  • D is the total number of unplanned absence days, and
  • B is the overall Bradford Factor score

As the number of separate instances is squared, this has a significant effect on an employee’s overall score. For example, one week-long absence would be calculated as (1 x 1) x 5 = 5.

However, someone else may take the same number of days off, but spread them out with a couple of days here and a couple of days there. Being absent on three separate occasions would affect their overall score like so: (3 x 3) x 5 = 45.

As such, the higher the score, the more likely that disciplinary action might be necessary. There’s no universal rule that you need to stick to, so employers can set their own scales as they see fit. As a guideline, point brackets could be spaced out as follows:

  • 0-49: No concern
  • 50-149: Consider Issuing a Verbal Warning
  • 150-399: Consider Issuing a First Written Warning
  • 400-649: Consider Issuing a Final Written Warning
  • Over 650: Consider Dismissal

Utilising Bradford Factor for your business

While it’s not a requirement for employers to use the Bradford Factor, those who do find it to be a very useful tool in tracking time and attendance in their workforce. By using the formula alongside integrated Absence Management Software, you and your HR team can easily review the impacts of time and attendance, as well as use the data to improve your overall operations.

With Platinum Enterprise from Addtime, you can monitor and record absenteeism – whether planned holidays or unplanned sicknesses – using an all-in-one software system that’s fully compatible with the Bradford Factor methodology.

Work smarter identifying absence trends, keeping workforce costs low and productivity high with Platinum Enterprise from Addtime, call us today on 01942 272 061 or get in touch with us online through our contact form.



time and attendance