1st May 2018

How to use the Bradford Factor for absence management

The Bradford Factor or Bradford Formula is used in human resource management as a means of measuring worker absenteeism. The theory is that short, frequent, and unplanned absences are more disruptive than longer absences. This guide looks at how to calculate the Bradford Factor and what to do with the information once you have it.

Why use the Bradford Factor?

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development the term was first coined due to its supposed connection with research undertaken by the Bradford University School of Management in the 1980s.

It was developed as a way of highlighting the disproportionate level of disruption on an organisation's performance that can be caused by short-term absence compared to single instances of prolonged absence. It was originally designed for use as part of the overall investigation and management of absenteeism.

In contrast, if used as part of a very limited approach to address absence or by setting unrealistically low trigger scores it was considered short-sighted, unlikely to be successful and could lead to staff disaffection and grievances.

How do you calculate it?

The Bradford score is generated by the following calculation:

  • S x S x D = Bradford points score
  • S = the number of occasions of absence in the last 52 weeks
  • D = the total number of days absence in the last 52 weeks

If you use a HRIS it is likely that this calculation will have been done for you and be available within your HR software's standard reports. Within Civica's HR & Payroll solution it is available both as a report and displayed on screen on the employee's record.

What to do with the information once you have it

Bradford scores can be used to trigger absence management processes and activities. Remember that absenteeism can be symptomatic of problems elsewhere and the recording and monitoring of absenteeism should be used in conjunction with good practice in such areas as Return to Work interviews, Welfare Visits and Health & Safety compliance.

Here are some real-life examples that we have come across:

Company A

  • 51 points – verbal warning
  • 201 points – written warning
  • 401 points – final warning
  • 601 points – dismissal

Company B

If the employee has reached a Bradford score of 80 points then the employee is counselled by the team leader; 100 points would then trigger a disciplinary meeting with the Human Resource department.

Company C

At another company, 50 to 189 points triggered a verbal warning; 190 to 499 points resulted in a first written warning and 500 to 999 points would prompt a final written warning although these are all at the discretion of the manager and Human Resource department. 

The Bradford Factor in HR & Payroll

The absence module is accessible through HR softwarepayroll software, and time and attendance software with certain functions, e.g. absence input and absence maps, also being available through the HR Payroll Self Service module.  

Once the instances of absenteeism have been captured, the analysis tools in your Civica HR software provide methods of monitoring absenteeism both graphically and in report format. It is possible to look at department league tables for problem areas, employee absence maps for individual trends, and a Bradford Formula report to identify those requiring management intervention.

Example 1

In the below HR software record, employee S Cowell has a Bradford score of 207.00 for period 01/01/2015-31/12/2015.


This detail is displayed via the View Absence Map, sickness absences are demonstrated in red in this example.


For fuller detail navigate to Absence & Lateness > Absence Input and click on the magnifying icon:

Details below:


The Bradford Formula Report with Absences report illustrates the following:

As previously described, the Bradford score is as generated by the following calculation:

S x S x D = Bradford points score

S = the number of occasions of absence in the last 52 weeks

D = the total number of days absence in the last 52 weeks

So in this example S = 3 (3 occurrences) and D = 23 (23 days off in total)
therefore 3 x 3 x 23 = 207.

Example 2

Another two examples which illustrate the Bradford Factor  

Employee A

Has 9 sick days in a year, 4 are single day absences and 5 are in a block.

S = 1(1) + 1(1) + 1(1) + 1(1) + 1(5) = 5

D = 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 5 = 9

Score = 5 x 5 x 9 = 225

Employee B

Has 15 sick days in a year, 3 blocks of five days.

S = 1(5) + 1(5) + 1(5) = 3

D = 5 + 5 + 5 = 15

Score = 3 x 3 x 15 = 135

The examples show that B has more sick days than A, yet B's Bradford Score is lower than A's. This is because multiple single day absences are considered more disruptive to a company, than fewer longer periods of absence.

Setting up absence stage triggers

Once you have decided where Bradford Scores will sit within your absence management policy, you can then use your HR software to define what will happen when employees reach a certain score, who will be notified and what action will need to be taken.

This  facility is accessed via Global Parameters > Absence Control > click Setup button.