What is the Bradford Factor?

The Bradford Factor is a useful tool to establish triggers for attendance management intervention that focuses on frequent short-term absences as opposed to long term absence. It enables you to be more proactive in respect of attendance management.

The calculation

After every absence the line manager should conduct a return to work interview that covers several areas, including updating the person’s Bradford Factor score. It is calculated over the last 12 months from the return to work date. 

The Bradford Factor uses the following formula: S2 x D = B, where:

  • S is the total number of separate absences by an individual;
  • D is the total number of days of absence of that individual;
  • B is the Bradford Factor score

The Bradford Factor website recommends 45 points as a baseline trigger for management intervention

The return to work process

If you use a trigger for attendance management then it will prompt an attendance review meeting if it is reached. This is an investigatory interview into the concerns about the attendance history over the last 12 months. You should explore the instances, reasons and assess any patterns. Pay careful attention to any absences related to age, disability or pregnancy. Taking formal action in relation to these types of absence may be discriminatory.  

If, following these investigations, the Bradford Factor remains unchanged then you may want to issue informal guidance in the first instance using a letter of concern. This is the first stage of attendance management and will contain guidance on improvement and warn that a failure to improve may result in further investigations and a formal capability review hearing.

Once issued, the normal process resumes. After every absence, a return to work interview should be conducted. If the Bradford Factor score goes down, no further action required. If it goes up, then a further investigation to consider more formal action should be undertaken. Be aware that any absences due to age, disability or pregnancy should be disregarded. Once the investigation is complete you should organise a formal capability review hearing to consider issuing a formal warning under attendance management/capability procedure.

There are three stages to the formal procedure:

  • Formal warning
  • Final warning
  • Dismissal with notice


At each stage consideration must be given to support, coaching and whether lifestyle/medical interventions would enable the individual to attend work appropriately. Adjustments to the contractual obligations or consideration of alternatives should be made prior to dismissal on capability grounds.

If your concerns about attendance are conduct and not capability related i.e. they have been absent because they want to be and not due to genuine illness, then you should consider a disciplinary procedure but this would only be valid if you have evidence that their absence was not genuine.

If you would like to know more about managing absence we offer an Attendance Management training course or call us on 0345 076 2288.