Bradford Factor Calculator

Created by Adena Benn
Reviewed by Steven Wooding
Based on research by
Stone R., Ph.D. β€œMeasuring Workplace Absenteeism Using the Bradford Factor to Detect Sick Leave Abuseβ€œ Department of Food Production Faculty of Food and Agriculture, University of the West Indies (July 2016)See 1 more source
β€œBradford factor: Exploring the good and the badβ€œ
Last updated: Jul 18, 2023


The Bradford factor calculator has been created to help employers assess the frequency of absences among employees. An employee whose Bradford score is high is believed to have a greater negative impact on a company's performance than an employee with a lower one.

In this article, we will explore:

  • What the term Bradford factor means;
  • How the Bradford factor correlates to absences;
  • What is a good Bradford factor;
  • The pros and cons of the Bradford factor in human resource management; and
  • How to use our Bradford factor calculator.

πŸ™‹ If you are interested in other business tools, visit our prorated salary calculator or this pay raise calculator.

What is the Bradford factor?

The Bradford factor (also referred to as Bradford score, Bradford formula or Bradford index) is based on the idea that frequent short, unplanned absences negatively affect a business much more than longer planned ones.

The ideal employee should have a low Bradford factor. Typically 50 and below is the desirable score for an employee.

It is believed to have been developed by the staff of the Bradford University School of Management.

What is the formula used to calculate the Bradford factor?

The formula used to calculate the Bradford factor is:

B = S2 Γ— D

where B represents the Bradford factor, S represents the total number of instances the employee was absent, and D represents the total number of days the employee was absent in the period.

Typically when we use the Bradford factor, the period is 52 weeks or one year.

How the Bradford factor correlates to absences

The Bradford factor focuses on the frequency of an employee's absences rather than the total number of days the employee was absent. For instance, an employee with fewer days absent in a financial year could potentially have a higher Bradford score than another in the same company with a higher number of missed days. Let's look at an example to see how this work.

Jack, Steve, and Amanda work for Company Alpha. In 2022 Jack was absent only when he took a 30-day vacation. Amanda's total absence for 2022, however, was 20 days. She was absent 10 times, each time for 2 days. On the other hand, Steve was absent for the same number of days as Amanda, but he was only absent twice for 10 days each time.

Now let's use the Bradford formula (B = S2 Γ— D) to calculate each employee's Bradford factor:

Here is what we find when we substitute the values:

  • Jack's score:
    B = 12 Γ— 30
    B = 1 Γ— 30
    B = 30

  • Amanda's score:
    B = 102 Γ— 20
    B = 100 Γ— 20
    B = 2000

  • Steve's score
    B = 22 Γ— 20
    B = 4 Γ— 20
    B = 80

So to interpret this information, even though Jack's total number of days absent was higher than both Amanda's and Steve's, according to the Bradford factor, the negative impact of Jack's absence is much smaller than that of Amanda and Steve.

Another thing we observe from these scores is that even though Amanda and Steve were absent the same number of days, Amanda's Bradford factor is much higher because she was absent more frequently.

So, in conclusion, when we use the Bradford factor in human resource management, we are giving credence to the idea that the frequency of an employee's absence is much more impactful on the welfare of a company than the total number of days the employee was absent.

πŸ™‹ Does the idea of the Bradford factor appeal to you as a manager? Do you know that you can also calculate the revenue per employee for your company? Visit our revenue per employee calculator to learn more.

What is a good Bradford factor?

A good Bradford factor is a number that ranges from 0 to 50. While the debate rages on about whether the Bradford factor is a good tool to measure employee performance or not, experts agree that a good Bradford factor is any number that does not fall above 50.

Pros and Cons of the Bradford factor

Many arguments have been put forward for and against using the Bradford factor to monitor employees' absences. Using it in isolation can lead to discrimination and a lack of care for the welfare of employees. However, it is still a useful tool. Our suggestion is not to use it in isolation.

Always remember that many things may affect employees' absences that are not covered by the Bradford factor. What it does well is identify trends that you should use as an indicator of the frequency of employees' absences and when this may warrant a closer look. Here we offer some advantages and disadvantages of using this tool:

Advantages

  1. The Bradford factor encourages employees to be at work more frequently. It is a mathematical system that gives you an efficient and objective way of measuring and comparing the frequency of employees' absences.

  2. It creates an easy way for employers to identify patterns of absences that may have otherwise gone unnoticed for a long time. This could help you spot workplace problems that may affect a particular section of your workforce.

    For instance, if one specific department usually has members out sick, it may indicate the vulnerability of that section of the workforce due to the types of jobs being done or the unsuitable working environment.

    It can also help an employer discover more personal problems affecting an employee's performance, such as chronic illnesses, to address the employee's needs better.

Disadvantages

What the Bradford factor lacks is added details that are necessary for the management of human resources. Many factors are important when assessing absences and taken in isolation; the Bradford factor could lead to unfair treatment in the workplace.

  1. The added stress of meeting the expected number in the Bradford factor may adversely affect the entire workforce:

    • While the Bradford factor may seem like a good thing on paper, it could cause increased stress among employees who are afraid to take time off even when they genuinely need to.

    • It could affect all employees' health if they feel pressured to avoid taking sick days. This is because when employees feel forced to be at work even when ill, there is the added risk of exposing others to infectious diseases, which can have a greater impact on a company's bottom line than one employee being out sick when they genuinely need to.

  2. Inadequate information: The Bradford factor and its recommended courses of action lack adequate information for informed decisions. This tool reduces employee absences into a mathematical equation. However, employee absences and HR management are much more intricate than this number. Employees who have a genuine condition and may need special consideration and support may find themselves being unfairly treated when the Bradford factor is used.

πŸ™‹ If you are one of the persons weighing in on this debate and wish to look at additional information to evaluate an employee's performance, you may be interested in our absence percentage calculator. This calculator helps you to calculate an employee's absence percentage during a particular period regardless of the frequency.

How to use our Bradford factor calculator

To use our Bradford factor calculator, follow these steps:

  1. Decide on the period you are measuring. Typically this is 52 weeks.
  2. Enter the number of times the employee was absent in the period in the field labeled # of times.
  3. Enter the total number of days the employee was absent in the days absent field.
  4. Voila! You can now see the Bradford factor for your employee.

Below the calculator, you will also find suggestions for interpreting these scores.

Adena Benn
# of times absent (S)
Days absent (D)
Bradford factor (B)
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