The Bradford Factor etiquette

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131 million days are lost in 2013 due to sickness absence. This is an average of 4.4 working days per UK worker, and although the average number of days is falling, this issue remains a significant challenge to UK businesses, causing disruption and productivity dips. The problem has come into sharper focus since many businesses now cannot claim back statutory sick pay following changes to UK government policy.

The Bradford Factor is a human resource management tool used to measure worker absenteeism and highlight the disruption caused by short-term absences. Some companies use the Bradford Factor as a means of identifying periods of sickness absence which in turn triggers disciplinary action. However, although an effective tool, use of the Bradford Factor requires caution and should never entirely replace common sense..

The Bradford Factor is a good first step when it comes to managing absences in the workplace. It is particularly good for big companies, where relationships between workers and senior leaders are distant. However, as with all absences, the assessment must be handled sensitively, which wouldn’t be the case if the assessor was to rely solely on the Bradford Factor.

In many cases, short-term, frequent absences are legitimate and employees are often wrongly being put under suspicion. But this can be dealt with by excluding certain types of absence from the Bradford Factor calculations. By applying common sense, absence related to pregnancy, disability or underlying illness will, after a conversation with the employee concerned, be quickly eliminated from the points total. It is recommended that medical evidence and reasonable adjustments should be made before applying the Bradford Factor

The safest approach is to make sure that any important decisions, such as disciplinary action, are not based around Bradford scores alone. The scores act best as a trigger to prompt line managers to investigate a case further – when consistency and fairness have to be applied and where each individual case may be different.

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