What is the Bradford Factor?

What is the Bradford Factor?

14 October 2022

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According to data collected by the ONS, an estimated 149.3 million working days were lost in 2021 in the UK due to staff absence. This works out at around 4.6 days per worker. Staff absence disrupts a business, can create stress for those covering for absent colleagues, and ultimately costs a business money. With that in mind, many companies have policies regarding absence. These companies often record, track, and report on absence information to ensure that patterns can be identified. It also allows them to offer support when needed and issues can be nipped in the bud. A popular way of monitoring absence is known as the Bradford Factor.

To dispel any misconceptions, the Bradford Factor has nothing to do with singing and is not a localised reincarnation of the X-Factor where Bradfordian vocalists compete in an attempt to resurrect their careers! The Bradford Factor is a simple formula created by staff at the Bradford University School of Management back in the 1980s. It gave employers a number that represents the level of absence of a member of staff.

How does the Bradford Factor work?

By using the Bradford Factor formula you, “apply a relative weighting to employee unplanned absences”. The weighting measures the impact of an employee’s absence on the business, the greater the weighting score, the greater the impact.

The formula itself works as follows:

S² x D = B.

S is the total number of separate absences by an employee. You multiply this number by itself.
D is the total number of days of absence of that employee which is usually calculated over a rolling 52-week period.
B is the Bradford Factor score.

The Bradford Factor in Practice

Say, employee, Joe has had one absence (S) totalling 12 days (D), what is his Bradford Factor score (B)?

= 1 x 1 = 1

S² x D = 1 x 12 = 12 (B)

So, Joe’s Bradford Factor score is 12 points.

Another example, is Shanice has four absences (S) totalling 12 days (D), what is her Bradford Factor score (B)?

S² = 4 x 4 = 16

S² x D = 16 x 12 = 192 (B)

So, Shanice’s Bradford Factor score is 192 points.

As you can see, even though the two employees have had the same total days of absence there is a marked difference between the scores due to the number of instances of absence.

How can a business use the Bradford Factor score?

The most effective way to use the scoring system is to set trigger scores within your company’s absence policy. Each business will set its trigger scores to prompt meetings with employees, which depending on the score could then lead to the full range of potential sanctions from informal warnings to dismissal. Make sure that staff are aware of your policy, the triggers, and the possible consequences, and ensure that when each trigger is hit you follow your process. Be mindful that the score in itself is just a value and you should still hold return-to-work meetings to understand the reasons behind absences and individual circumstances so that you don’t act in a discriminatory or unfair way.

Our HRX software enables you to record and report on your employees’ absence, you can use the return to work form from the HRX Knowledge Base when absentees come back to work to understand all the reasons behind their absence. If you choose to calculate a Bradford Factor score you can do so by using a quick and easy online calculation tool. Here are a few to get you started:


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