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:
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|
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.
What Absences Count in the Bradford Factor
Sickness absences are the only consideration normally used in the Bradford Factor, but (as is often asked) it doesn’t matter if the absence is certified by the employee (self-certified) or by a doctor (covered by a “sick note” – a Fit Note) – the absences themselves are the cause for concern, not whether they are genuine, certified medically or otherwise.
(If there is any doubt about the legitimacy of an absence or the certification of this, this should be dealt with under formal disciplinary procedures, as this is a serious matter.)
Employees are entitled to take time-off to deal with care issues for dependants, and allowing a reasonable amount of time off here should not be counted towards a Bradford Factor scoring – this is a reasonable amount of time off provided in law, and staff should not be disciplined for it. Nonetheless, employers should ensure it is being used solely for the purposes it is provided – not typically to provide care directly, but to make arrangements for this.
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.