The Bradford Factor helps employers monitor staff absences with a view to reducing unplanned leave. When used as a solution-orientated tool, it can highlight both negative patterns and possible solutions.
If you already know how to interpret the score, you can jump straight into the calculation below. Our Bradford Factor score calculator will help you check the scores. Once you have your calculation, use it to analyse how absenteeism is affecting your business.
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The article below will give you in-depth understanding of how to use this HR tool. We will explain what the Bradford Factor is, what the scores mean and how to utilise them to increase productivity. We will also discuss how to balance the use of such tools against staff wellbeing and duty of care as an employer.
What is the Bradford Factor?
The Bradford Factor is a mathematical formula used in HR to measure and understand patterns in employee unplanned absences. We normally advise clients to include only sickness absences or unexplained absences. It is important to note that unplanned absences do not include any absences related to statutory leave, such as dependants leave.
The Bradford Factor can take into consideration all absences outside the worker’s annual leave entitlement. Sick days, doctor appointments, and emergency situations can be taken into account when calculating the score, however you should be cautious in this area.
It is up to each employer to establish the extent to which lateness becomes an absence. In industries with shift patterns, such as health and social care or manufacturing, staff running late can disrupt the whole team or production line. If this applies to you, then you can include a Bradford Factor lateness aspect in your absence policy.
This HR tool determines the level of disruption caused by frequent absences. It works on the principle that less, but more frequent, days off have an increased negative impact on business operations than long term sick leave.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the sickness absence rate has stayed relatively constant since 2010 in the UK. However, it has significantly decreased since 1995, when records began.
Why use a Bradford Factor calculator?
You might wonder how using a Bradford Factor calculator will help you.
If absences are at an all-time low in the UK, according to the ONS, surely they don’t impact production massively?
As it happens, the bigger picture looks more complex than it first seems.
With an ageing population and skill gaps affecting various industries, many businesses already operate understaffed. At the same time, flexible and hybrid working models make it easier to find solutions around unplanned absences. When an employee is working from home, they can make up for an appointment during their commuting hours, for example.
Using a mathematic calculator like this will drill into the data to reveal what could change for the better. As in the example above, it might be that a valuable employee will benefit from flexible hours around parental duties (outside the statutory parental leave). They will resort to less unplanned leave, with less negative impact on productivity.
Remember that you should not include any absences related to statutory leave, such as dependants leave, regardless of their age. One of your employees might take care of a disabled dependant. You’ll set yourself up for discrimination claims if you include such absences in your Bradford Factor calculator.
In some situations, the formula might highlight that a worker needs mental health support. When dealing with stress and anxiety, employees can end up taking days off more frequently. They might benefit from counselling via an employee assistance programme.
Let’s look next at how we calculate such an absence score, and how it’s applied to the workplace.
How is the Bradford Factor worked out?
After you’ve used the above calculator, you might want to understand how it works.
We calculate the score per individual by the Bradford formula S2 x D = B, where:
- S indicates the total number of separate absences for the worker
- D indicates the total number of days of absence for the same individual
- B indicates the Bradford Factor
Whether you used our calculator or just calculated by yourself, you might still be wondering what it actually means. What are the Bradford Factor average scores and does an average matter or not?
HR departments use a scale to interpret what each score indicates. They identify Bradford Factor trigger points to make decisions of the best way going forward:
- 0 points means no concern.
- 51 points means informal verbal warning/discussion with the employee where improvements are suggested.
- 201 points means a written warning given.
- 401 points means a final written warning can be given.
- 601 means you can dismiss the employee after the above warnings have been given and they continued to accumulate absences.
When does the Bradford Factor reset?
To use it correctly, you need to set a period of time over which you will measure the impact of staff absences. Most companies reset the calculator once each year.
The Bradford Factor and the law
We have seen both employers and employees ask if it is a legal tool to use. The answer is simply yes.
Many companies use the Bradford Factor in the UK, including Government organisations. However, you must clarify to your employees how you will use this tool. The best way to do this is by including a Bradford Factor absence policy in your documents.
The Bradford Factor policy can also be included in your staff handbook.
No matter whether you’re managing part time workers or full time workers, productivity and absenteeism are priority considerations when looking at business performance.
All businesses are legally required to offer holiday pay as part of your employment contracts, and it may be beneficial to outline your stance on consistent absenteeism in your employee handbook.
Employees may be experiencing personal issues which impact their health and wellbeing. This can be managed through an employee assistance programme (EAP).
Call a Croner expert today
You have seen the Bradford Factor explained above and had a chance to use the calculator. Implementing it properly into your workplace, if you have never done it before, might take time.
You’ll need to prepare the documentation necessary to use it legally. Our contracts & documentation team will help you with any paperwork you need in this respect. But even before you do this, you should consider how to apply it within your organisation.
Is your industry more prone to staff becoming sick?
Health and social care, or education, can have high rates of sick leave.
You also need to ensure you don’t inadvertently discriminate against employees with health conditions.
We will help you with everything you need to implement the Bradford Factor correctly and equitably. Call us on 01455 858 132.
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