Bradford Factor

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Bradford Factor

What is the Bradford Factor?

The Bradford Factor, sometimes referred to simply as "Bradford", is a numerical method used by many UK organizations to measure worker absenteeism. The aim is not just to count days of absence, but to provide insight into the disruption caused by the frequency and pattern of absence.

The origins of the term "Bradford Factor" are a bit muddled in HR lore. Some attribute it to a manager from a pharmaceutical company who once attended a workshop at Bradford Management School. Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) believes it stems from research conducted at Bradford University School of Management. Yet, the University itself hasn't definitively verified the term's genesis.

The calculation revolves around two simple elements:

  • : Spells or instances of absence
  • : Total days of absence

Using the formula B=S²×, organizations can derive a "Bradford Score" for each employee. This score tends to increase dramatically if short-term absences are frequent, emphasizing its primary goal: to highlight disruptive absence patterns.

Why is the Bradford Factor Used?

One-off long-term sickness can be unavoidable and often doesn't disrupt the workflow as much as frequent short absences. The latter can indicate employee disengagement or other underlying issues. The Bradford Factor assists managers in identifying these patterns.

Understanding absenteeism is crucial for maintaining productivity. By pinpointing problematic absence patterns early, managers can address potential issues, provide support, or initiate well-being programs to aid employees.

The objective nature of the Bradford Factor ensures that HR decisions related to absenteeism are made consistently and fairly. This is crucial for upholding the UK's employment laws, ensuring no employee is unfairly treated or discriminated against based on their health or circumstances.

How to Calculate the Bradford Factor?

Understanding the Bradford Factor's calculation is straightforward, but its implications can be profound.

  1. Count the number of separate instances () an employee was absent over a set period.
  2. Calculate the total number of days () of absence for that same period.
  3. Square the number of instances (S²) and multiply by the total days () to get the Bradford score.
  • Example 1: An employee takes 1 day off on 3 separate occasions. Here, and . So, B=3² x 3 = 27
  • Example 2: Another employee takes a single 3-day leave. In this case, and . Thus, B=1² x 3 = 3

Even though both employees have missed 3 days, the Bradford scores differ significantly due to the absence pattern.

Bradford's scores can escalate rapidly with frequent, short-term absences. This serves as an alarm for HR and managers, prompting them to investigate and act, ensuring both the well-being of the employee and the smooth functioning of the organization.

What is a good or bad Bradford Factor Score?

Here's a general overview of how Bradford scores are typically interpreted:

  • Good Bradford Score Low Score (0-49): Considered acceptable and indicates occasional absences.
  • Borderline Bradford Score Medium Score (50-124): This may start to raise concerns and warrants a closer look into the reasons for the absences. Some employers might start formal proceedings or monitoring at this stage.
  • Bad Bradford Score High Score (125 and above): Considered problematic, often leading to formal disciplinary action or requiring intervention. It suggests frequent short-term absences.

However, it's crucial to remember that Bradford Factor scores should be used as a guide rather than a strict rule. Individual circumstances, medical conditions, and other factors should always be considered. Moreover, employers should use the Bradford Factor as part of a holistic approach to managing absence, ensuring that employees are supported and that any underlying issues are addressed.