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).

The Bradford Factor Definition:

By weighing unplanned absences, the Bradford factor is a formula which helps organisations understand how frequent short-term absences (eg. sick leave) disrupt the flow of business.

It’s calculated by multiplying the number of instances an employee has been sick by the days they’ve had off.

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.

Why it is important to track absences

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.

Impact of Sickness absence

The unaddressed issues of sick leave have the potential to negatively influence business in a few ways. Some examples include:

1. Affecting the experience of customers who may be reliant the absent employee
2. Decrease in overall productivity as absentee temporarily creates a bottleneck in operations
3. Other employees may choose to abuse unplanned leave if they feel as though someone else is
4. Extended leave may force employers to spend more on a temporary hire
5. Harmony in a company can be disrupted as other employees are forced to pick up extra responsibilities.

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.

Bradfard Factor presented by cascade

The Advantages and disadvantages of the Bradford Factor


  • 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.


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

The 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.

Cascade bradford - the calculator

Bradford Factor score and trigger points

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

What is a Bradford trigger?

A Bradford trigger is a predetermined Bradford score limit which suggests a disciplinary course of action.

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. It’s encouraged that you set triggers which help to dictate the fair response to patterns of absenteeism in the workplace.

cascader hr bradford factor promo 1



Under 50



Impact to Business

Likely minimum impact on business

Likely some impact on business

Likely significant impact on business


None needed

Consider discussion with employee

Consider disciplinary proceedings

Reasonable considerations

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.

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Ways to prevent unplanned absences

1. Make an effort to reduce the amount of stress at work (Implement wellness programs)
2. Design and communicate preventive policies (educate employees on the impact of unplanned absences)
3. Update employees on their Bradford score
4. Consider felexible working schedules
5. Immediately address absentee concerns as they arise


The Bradford factor and the law

Basing critical employment decisions on a formulaic system may often raise the concerns of employees. You’re likely to hear the question, ” is this legal?” The simple answer is yes!

However, just like any other tool an organisation may implement to help manage the complicated responsibility of human resources, the Bradford Factor should be implemented with reason and careful consideration.

Employers ought to exercise due diligence before taking action by providing support to employees who may struggle with personal reasons for repeated absences.


3 commonly asked questions


What is considered a bad Bradford Factor score?
Triggers for a bad Bradford Factor score will depend on the policies and need of a company. However, it is worth noting that a higher score is less preferable to a lower one.

Can you get sacked for being off sick?
A company has the legal right to terminate employment if an employee is persistently absent from work as a result of sickness.

How long do Bradford points last?
The Bradford factor score calculates the impact of employee absence in the last 52 weeks (one year) of employment.

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Bradford score and the law
Bradford scroe commonly asked questions

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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