Employee Relations

What is the Bradford Factor?

Employee at desk

Contrary to popular belief, the Bradford Factor is not Bradford’s local version of the X Factor. In fact, it’s far from it: The Bradford Factor is actually a simple formula used by Human Resources departments to help determine whether or not an employee’s pattern of absence should be a reason to worry.

Did you know that 2 employees could have the same number of days off sick in the same period of time, but one could be causing 10 times more red flags than the other?

Although the Bradford Factor formula is an easy calculation to understand, its value in the workplace should not be underestimated.

Quite simply, it works on the theory that it isn’t necessarily the number of days an employee has off sick (although if you look at the graphical explanation above you’ll find this does play a role), but that the individual number of absences is an incredibly heavy player in how many red flags employee absence patterns should be raising.

The Bradford Factor calculation, in a nutshell, is the number of instances (Spells) an employee has been absent over a set period of time, multiplied first by itself, and then by the total number of days (Days). The theory is that when a score hits a certain threshold, it’s probably time to investigate and take action.

Bradford factor infographic

There is plenty of software available that will alert you when an employee’s score raises flags, and the more sophisticated HR software on the market will even help you to set and understand the trigger points at which you might want alerts to start coming through.

Of course (as with anything), the Bradford Factor score cannot be used as a standalone tool to determine whether or not an employee needs to be disciplined… but it can provide valuable insight into trends, patterns and risk levels of absence within your workforce.

If you’re struggling with high absence levels, then you might want to take a look at how you review and manage performance.