A common HR issue for Registered Managers is the number of staff absences that occur. Frequent short absences cause havoc in rota planning and restrict the ability of the provider to ensure continuity of care. When a high absence takes root, it has a real impact on the quality of care provision, staff morale and can cause an increase in costs from excessive agency use. The issue for the Registered Manager is how to ensure that a high absence culture is stopped but ensuring that staff who are genuinely ill or have personal issues are supported.
One way of managing a culture of high absence levels is by using the Bradford Factor.
The Bradford Factor is a system of managing employee absences by allocating points to employes who are absent. Action can then be taken against staff who accumulate too many points. The points are calculated using an equation to give a number. This equation is known as the Bradford Formula and the number is the Bradford Factor.
The theory is that short and frequent absences which are generally unplanned, are more damaging to a business than long absences.
The Bradford factor is calculated using the Bradford Formula (SxS) x D = B
- 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
So 1 person off once for a week would be
- S = 1 (one absence of a week)
- D = 7 (7 separate days during that absence)
- B = (1×1) x 7 = 7
Compare to a person who is also off for 7 days but at seven separate times. i.e. 7 different days in a month
- S = 7 (as there are now 7 instances of absence as opposed to 1 above)
- D = 7 (7 separate days during that absences)
- B = (7 x 7) x 7 = 343
So two people both off for 7 days in a month, one gets a Bradford score of 7 and the other gets a Bradford score of 349
The point of the Bradford factor is to not penalise people who are genuinely off sick but instead deal with those who are always taking the odd day here an there repeatedly.
How you apply the score is up to you, there are various ways. However, one not too extreme example would be as follows
- 51 points – verbal warning.
- 201 points – written warning
- 401 points – final warning
- 601 points – dismissal
obviously, you need to update your policies and procedures to reflect these criteria.
So using the scale above on the example above, the person with a score of 7 would have no action taken but the person with the score of 349 would be invited to a disciplinary and possibly receive a written warning.
The Bradford Factor should be used as a guide and an indicator to absence rather than on its own as its a rather blunt tool. It works best when used in conjunction with other good HR practices for managing absence such as;
- Introduce incentives and rewards for low absence
- Record and track absence to detect trends
- Have clear absence policies and procedures. Include in the staff handbook and in new staff induction
- Have return to work interviews
- Ensure a good working environment
- Allow flexible working
- Follow your own absence policies to the letter
- Apply your policies and procedures fairly to everyone
- Ensure you cover absence polices in supervisions and performance reviews
More guidance on managing staff absence can be found on the ACAS website here