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Absence tracking using the Bradford Factor Formula

Ever increasingly, organisations are measuring rates of sickness and absence. The methodologies used in such considerably from another.

One straight forward and increasingly popular method of measurement is the Bradford Factor. This system of recording and measuring absence and sickness provides companies with an industry wide benchmark of scores.

Measuring the rate of absence and sickness

In calculating overall absence rates, organisations can use a standardised formula to show the amount of time lost.

Number of days/shifts lost to absence     x 100

Total number of working days/shifts

This figure, however, leaves many questions unanswered. As an example is the absence rate a true reflection of a few employees suffering long term ill-health or are a substantial number of employees regularly absent for relatively short periods?

Measuring Frequency

Another simple calculation often called the frequency rate, could provide more insightful absence information on which to base policies to reduce absence. The frequency shows the average number of spells of absence by employee (shown as a percentage) irrespective of the length of each spell.

Number of spells of absence                         x 100

Number of employees Measuring Incidence

Another simple calculation can reveal the proportion of employees absent during a given period.

Number of employees having one or more spells of absence             x 100

Number of employees Measuring Disruption - The Bradford Factor

In many organisations, the cost and disruption of persistent, short spells of absence are greater than for occasional, long periods of absence. In addressing this problem companies are taking up a method referred to as The Bradford Factor.

The Bradford Factor is believed to have it's origins from the Bradford University School of Management during the 1980's. But there appears to be no record of this and it seems likely that the formulae has no formal connection with the University. The term has stuck, however, and is now a popular reference for this method of approach.

The formulae measures an employees irregularity of attendance. It is calculated:

S x S x D = ‘Bradford’ points score, where S is the number of spells of absence in the last 52 weeks and D is the number of days’ absence in the last 52 weeks So for an employee with 14 days absence in one year differentiated distribution, the score can vary enormously.

  • One absence of 14 days is 14 points.                     1 x 1 x 14
  • Seven absences of 2 days each is 686 points.         7 x 7 x 14
  • Fourteen absences of 1 day each is 2,744 points.     14 x 14 x 14

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