Employment Law Services

Bradford Factor

Frequent short-term sick absences are always a cause for concern, particularly within small businesses. The Bradford Factor is a simple formula to help you manage short term sick absences and determine when these have become excessive.

The calculation for the Bradford Factor (B) is Number of Occasions Sick (S) x Number of Occasions Sick (S) x Total Number of Days Absent (D), or

B = S² x D.

Alternatively, we can calculate your Bradford Factor & provide advice on what to do next:

How many times has the worker being off sick? (normally this should cover the previous year)

And how many sick days have they had in total?

The formula is usually applied over a period covering the last 52 weeks, although other periods could be used.

The Bradford Factor deals effectively with minor non-recurring absences – the headache, upset stomach, etc, type of illnesses that employees will usually self-certify for.

Using the formula, frequent short absences will quickly rack up a higher Bradford Factor score than less frequent absences:

Six days of absence in the last year will give different scores, depending on the number of absences:

  • One spell of sick leave would equate to 1(S) x 1(S) x 6(D) = 6 points
  • Two spells of sick leave would equate to 2(S) x 2(S) x 6(D) = 24 points
  • Three spells of sick leave would equate to 3(S) x 3(S) x 6(D) = 54 points.

All these cases involve a total of six days total absence, but where there were three occasions of sick leave, the score is significantly higher; cases of this nature may prompt formal managerial action quicker than otherwise.

Thresholds for Bradford Factor

Typical thresholds are

0-49 No action required
50-124 Consider Issuing a Verbal Warning
125-399 Consider Issuing a First Written Warning
400-649 Consider Issuing a Final Written Warning
650+ Consider Dismissal


although these should always be used as a guide for managers, not something to follow strictly – reasonable adjustments should be made for staff classified as disabled, and in other cases managers should still exercise their discretion on the absences, considering notes from Return to Work Interviews & other available information, before deciding whether to take formal action.


Patterns to Absences

The Bradford Factor is a useful guide, but should not be relied upon by itself to manage short-term absences. There could be instances where action is appropriate a lot sooner than the Bradford Factor suggests – three occasions off on a Monday/Friday for example would only score 27, but the pattern of absences may warrant earlier management intervention. In these instances, you should be commencing action as soon as a pattern begins to emerge, and if your enquiries justify a concern, action should not wait until any trigger points are reached.

To find out how we can help you manage absences in your workplace, saving you time and money, call 020 3397 2979.

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