Alberto Marzetta
30 Sep 2022

Measuring absenteeism using the Bradford Factor Calculator

Employees’ unexpected absences can negatively impact the performance of a business. In the 1980s the Bradford University School of Management came up with what is now known as the Bradford Factor.

Use this Bradford Score calculator

The factor is a number showing the impact of an employee absenteeism on the business. The higher the score, the more negative the impact is. Try it out for yourself:


How the Bradford Factor is calculated

B = C x C x D

B is the Bradford Factor.

C is the absence count. This is the number of times an employee was absent from work continuously due to unplanned circumstances.

D is the total number of days an employee was absent from work due to unplanned circumstances.

Unplanned circumstances include the following:

  • Sick leave
  • Doctor appointments
  • Emergencies
  • Unauthorised absences

The Bradford Factor main concept is that short-term, frequent unplanned leaves are more detrimental to organizations’ performance than long-term, infrequent ones. This can be seen in the formula as the square of the absence count is taken into consideration.

For example, if Mark was absent from 1 February to 5 February and again from 3 March to 5 March, the absence count is 2 (C=2) and the days off are 8 (D=8). It follows that the Bradford score is B = 2 x 2 x 8 = 32.

Now let’s suppose that John has an absence count equal to 4 (C = 4) and he was absent from work for a total of 8 days (D = 8). In this case the Bradford score is B = 4 x 4 x 8 = 128

According to the Bradford Factor, John’s absences had a more negative impact on the business than Mark’s ones as the former has a higher absence count even if the total number of days off is the same for both employees.

Bradford Factor trigger points

Companies can set up their thresholds, which may depend on the industry and nature of the organisation, when investigating employees absenteeism. However, as a general guideline, the following scores may be a good starting point

  • 51 points = potential verbal warning
  • 201 points = potential written warning
  • 401 points = potential final written warning
  • 501 points = enough cause for dismissal

How to use the Bradford Factor in your company

The Bradford Factor can be useful for companies that want to have fast analytics on their employees’ absences. You can then investigate any issue regarding an employee’s absences directly with your employees and/or with their supervisor.

While the Bradford factor is an intuitive metric, it lacks precision. As shown above, employees with more frequent leaves may be over penalised.

For example, Mark was continuously absent from work 2 times, each time for 6 days, for a total of 12 days (Bradford Score = 48) while John has an absence count equal to 7, for a total of 7 days off work (Bradford Score = 343). John could get a written warning according to the above thresholds while Mark would receive no disciplinary action even if Mark was absent from work for 5 days more than John. It follows that you should always have a look at how the score was obtained.

It must be noted that the Bradford Score cannot be the sole factor on which you should evaluate the dismissal of an employee. You should take into consideration various circumstances which may have contributed to a high Bradford Score. This is especially true for employees with medical conditions which may require frequent check-ups and evaluating their absenteeism against the Bradford Score may be discriminatory.