The Bradford Factor or Bradford Formula is used in human resource management as a means of measuring worker absenteeism. The theory is that short, frequent, and unplanned absences are more disruptive than longer absences. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development the term was first coined due to its supposed connection with research undertaken by the Bradford University School of Management in the 1980s. It was developed as a way of highlighting the disproportionate level of disruption on an organisation's performance that can be caused by short-term absence compared to single instances of prolonged absence.
It was originally designed for use as part of the overall investigation and management of absenteeism. In contrast, if used as part of a very limited approach to address absence or by setting unrealistically low trigger scores it was considered short-sighted, unlikely to be successful and could lead to staff disaffection and grievances. The use of the Bradford Factor often provokes heated debate.
The Bradford Factor is calculated as follows:
- B is the Bradford Factor score
- S is the total number of spells (instances) of absence of an individual over a set period
- D is the total number of days of absence of that individual over the same set period
The 'set period' is typically set as a rolling 52 week period.
For example, this is how 10 days absence could be shown:
- 1 instance of absence with a duration of ten days (1 x 1 x 10) = 10 points
- 3 instances of absence; one of one, one of three and one of six days (3 x 3 x 10) = 90 points
- 5 instances of absence; each of two days (5 x 5 x 10) = 250 points
- 10 instances of absence; each of one day (10 x 10 x 10) = 1000 points
A score above 450 is generally categorised as "recommended dismissal" whilst a score between 250 and 499 is categorised as "final written warning".
Disability rights legislation
The British Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and 2005 (DDA), (replaced by the Equality Act 2010) creates a duty on employers to tailor their actions to the individual circumstances of disabled employees. As certain disabilities may lead to a greater likelihood of short-duration absences or to a higher total of days of absence, caution is needed in taking action as a consequence of the data generated from the application of the Bradford Factor. The DDA allows disabled employees to request 'reasonable adjustments' in situations where they are disadvantaged by generic processes. Failure to provide these reasonable adjustments, or to adequately justify why they cannot be provided, may leave the employer open to civil action for breach of the DDA in an Employment Tribunal. Reasonable adjustments in the case of the Bradford Factor might include recording Disability-Related Absence separately from Sickness Absence, or individually tailoring targets. Reasonable adjustments may also be requested by disabled employees for relief from any negative consequences of application of the Bradford Factor, such as disciplinary action or reduced salary awards.
- See The Bradford Factor: Are Bradford Scores the best way of calculating sickness absence rates? Occupational Health at Work, 2006 2(5) p28-29
- "Chartered Institute of personnel and Development Measuring, Reporting and Costing Absence August 2007" Retrieved 19 June 2009
- Duffy, Jonathan (2001-05-02). "Ill Wind Blowing for the Sickie". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
- Cabinet Office (2004). "Managing Sickness Absence in the Public Sector" (PDF). UK government: 20. Retrieved 2007-05-07.