What is the Bradford Factor?

Although it may sound like a Yorkshire based talent contest, the Bradford Factor is a way for employers to keep track of employees’ unplanned absences. (Unplanned absence is separate to an employee’s holiday entitlement). A Bradford Factor score is seen as an objective way of tracking absence patterns, allowing employers to decide when to act to manage unauthorised absence.

When to use the Bradford Factor?

Absence is estimated to cost the UK economy £18 billion a year, and short term unplanned absences are believed to cause more disruption to businesses than longer-term periods.

Employers can find it difficult to monitor absences spread across a year manually, and particular patterns can be even harder to spot. The Bradford Factor is designed to alleviate this problem, and to assign a numerical value to employees based on their absence.

The Bradford Factor has a number of advantages and disadvantages:

Bradford Factor advantages

  • The Bradford Factor calculation is completely objective and calculated using set formulas. This means employees are treated equally based on facts and not opinions.
  • Implementing the Bradford Score system, and informing employees of its importance, can make staff more aware of the impact of unplanned absences and help to reduce them.

Bradford Factor disadvantages

  • The objectivity of the Bradford Factor can also be a disadvantage. It does not take into account an employee’s personal circumstances, so some element of subjectivity needs to be factored in when making any decisions based on a Bradford Score.
  • Specific and obvious patterns may go unnoticed. For instance, if an employee was sick on three consecutive Fridays for example, they would only have a Bradford Score of 27. This would not be cause for action on the Bradford scale, but you would likely want to at least investigate the pattern.
Cascade HR Owl

The HR software partner for the UK’s leading organisations from 10 to 10,000 employees

Bradford Factor calculator

Calculating an employee’s Bradford Factor is straightforward and can be done with a simple formula:

S x S x D = Bradford points score

S = number of absences

D = total number of days of absence


  • 1 absence totalling 10 days = 1 x 1 x 10 giving a Bradford score of 10
  • 5 absences totalling 10 days = 5 x 5 x 10 giving a Bradford score of 250
  • 10 absences totalling 10 days = 10 x 10 x 10 giving a Bradford score of 1,000

As you can see with the calculations above, the number of absences tends to have the greatest impact on an employee’s Bradford Factor, and is likely indicative of the impact that a high number of short-term absences has on a business.

HR Software that calculates your employees’ Bradford factor could save you a significant amount of time, especially if your staff count is growing. Cascade simplifies your workload by allowing you to keep track of absences in real time, and can create quick reports in just a few clicks.

What to do with Bradford Factor score data

Calculating a Bradford score is straight forward, particularly if you have HR software to help you, but on its own, the data is not particularly useful. The real value to your business comes when you use the data to inform and guide you to take action in managing absences.

As an employer, it is up to you to decide on what action to take with employees with various scores, and it depends on the impact that absences have on your business. Below are examples of thresholds, and the potential actions you could take:


Under 50




None needed

Consider discussion with employee

Consider disciplinary proceedings

Impact to Business

Likely minimum impact on business

Likely some impact on business

Likely significant impact on business

These are just possible thresholds and actions, the final decision on this rests internally with your teams. Once you are armed with the right data you can make better, more informed decisions.

Reasonable adjustments

As mentioned above, the Bradford Factor calculation is completely objective and based on numbers. In itself, it does not account for personal circumstances.

Employees may suffer from serious illness, which can cause them to take a lot of unplanned absences, and therefore receive a high Bradford score. The same could be said of someone with a close family member suffering a serious illness. In these instances, it would not be fair or reasonable to consider disciplinary proceedings.

Your own judgement is vital to the success of using the Bradford Factor, and using it as a guide to inform your decision-making it can bring about the best results for your business. Back to work interviews and open dialogue are important tools for establishing trends and discovering underlying causes for absence.

Contact our team for a demo and see how you could benefit from:

Enabling employees to manage their own admin and simplify holiday requests

Powerful reporting to give you instant access to a headcount

Calculating a Bradford Factor score for all of your employees to manage absence

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