The Bradford Factor Calculator

Bradford Factor


Number of Absences:


Total Days Absent:



absence(s) of day(s).

How to use our Bradford Factor Calculator

Generally you’d want to calculate the Bradford Factor for an employee for a full year. Our calculator allows you to enter employee absences in groups. So, for example, if an employee had 3 one day absences and 2 four day absences in a year you’d need to enter two absence groups. In our example we’d enter the first group as 3 absence(s) of 1 day(s), click the Add Absence Group link and then enter 2 absence(s) of 4 day(s). The calculated Bradford Factor will be automatically updated as you enter each group of absences. If you make an error you can delete an Absence Group by clicking the Delete icon for that group, and you can reset the calculator by clicking the Reset Calculator button.

What is the Bradford Factor?

The Bradford Factor is a human resource metric that attempts to measure the effect of unplanned employee absences and absenteeism on a business. The formula to determine the Bradford Factor is:

Bradford Factor = N2 × D

N = Total number of unplanned absences in a period (typically a 52 week year)
D = Number of Days Absent during the same period

You can clearly see from this that the Bradford Factor heavily favors the number of absences rather than the total number of days absent. For example, a single 10 day absence has a rating of 10, while 10 single day absences have a rating of 1000.

The Theory Behind the Impact of Short Unplanned Absences

The logic behind the Bradford Factor formula is that unplanned short term absences are more harmful to a business for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The impact of an unplanned absence is felt immediately.
  • Work not done by the absent employee is unlikely to be covered by other employees or relief staff.
  • If covered by other employees then other work suffers.
  • A short absence is less likely to be a genuine illness.

By comparison long term absences can be covered once the immediate impact has been felt so that the later days of the absence are less detrimental to the business. Typically this would be because of better internal task allocation for existing employees or by hiring of relief staff.

Caution in Application

The Bradford Factor is a controversial human resource metric. It fails to allow for common sense, such as those employees with chronic illness, those with family illnesses, or those who are pregnant. Clearly it cannot be applied blindly and consideration should be given to weighting absences based on the reasons behind them. Similarly safeguards should be put in place to ensure that the measure is not applied blindly to employees who have chronic on-going conditions. And of course in the case of bosses or supervisors who have ulterior motives it can be used to unfairly target employees who have genuine reasons for being away from work. It can also result in employees who are worried by harshly enforced absentee policies but are genuinely ill going to work unwell and spreading their illness.

Of course the Bradford Factor should not be applied in isolation when dealing with unplanned absenteeism, but it can be useful in the following ways:

  • It can raise flags and triggers to the HR manager if absenteeism is becoming a problem.
  • It is a quick indicator of employees who may be having problems with their health or personal issues.
  • Problem employees can be approached by management quickly if their have genuine issues and they can be addressed sympathetically.
  • It can be used as a formal measure in employment policies.
  • The measure takes away reasons for managers or supervisors to not take action.

We have written a longer article on the common use and application of the Bradford Factor in the work place.