I'm on sick leave written on piece of paper

How the Bradford Factor system works – Managing Absence

8 Sep
by Suzie Business Owner & Senior HRBP

The Bradford Factor system is a way of measuring levels of sickness absence within organisations. An employee’s score is calculated by taking the number of absence incidents and multiplying this by itself, then multiplying by the total number of days’ absence within a 12-month rolling period.


Why use the system?


The Bradford Factor system helps to monitor short-term frequent sickness absences amongst employees, ie taking the odd day off here or there. It is a useful tool to measure the disruption to a company and its’ productivity caused by employees taking too much time off sick, and may deter employees from doing so when they are not genuinely ill.


Setting the threshold points


When the system is implemented, an organisation needs to decide what its’ threshold points are going to be. The below stages are a guide for companies to use, and what the actions to take may be:-


65 – 124          –     an informal discussion

125 – 399        –     a written warning

400 – 699        –     a final written warning

700+                –     a potential dismissal from the Company


Communicating with employees


An employer needs to decide how it will communicate the system to its workforce. The use of absence thresholds should be an open and transparent process and promoted as part of an overall absence management or wellbeing strategy. Absence thresholds should be seen by staff as a proactive way of improving the health and wellbeing of employees and reducing unnecessary sickness from work, rather than a way of putting pressure on employees to come to work when they are genuinely ill. Employers should also stress to employees that the measures will be applied consistently across the organisation.


Points to consider


  • Reasons for absence, ie genuine long-term illness
  • Actual employee’s illness or caring for dependents
  • Software/how to measure
  • Fairness
  • Disability discrimination
  • Return to work interviews
  • Reasonable adjustments
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