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Bradford Factor Absence Triggers Points: What You Need to Know

21 February 2014 3 min read

Bradford Factor Trigger Points

What are the Bradford Factor triggers?

Trigger points are simply thresholds at which further action (i.e. warning, meeting with managers, etc.) should be taken and used correctly can be an extremely effective mechanism to monitor short-term absence.

What trigger points should you use?

Setting triggers is entirely dependent on the organization using the Bradford Factor Calculator but I usually provide clients with the trigger points used by the UK Prison Service as a sensible example.

Trigger ThresholdOutcome
51 pointsverbal warning
201 pointswritten warning
401 pointsfinal warning
601 pointsdismissal


Using the above thresholds and disciplinary guidelines, the UK Prison Service was able to successfully reduce absenteeism by 18%, proving just how effective the Bradford Factor can be when used correctly.

Why use Bradford factor trigger points?

1. Simple and easy to understand

Setting trigger points can help standardize disciplinary procedures across the organization. Defining specific thresholds helps to educate staff about the impact of absenteeism and provides a fair and transparent process for monitoring staff absence that’s easy to understand.

In fact, studies have shown that by educating staff about the Bradford Factor, and then showing them their score on a regular basis, absenteeism can be reduced by over 20%.

2. Effective comparison tool

Bradford Factor triggers allow managers and HR to easily compare employee absence patterns across the organization and provides a more structured set of guidelines for managers on how and when to investigate absence rates further.

By implementing mandatory procedures for tackling absenteeism across an organization led by the Bradford Factor, you remove the potential for differences across teams and management and remove the difficulties and reluctance that line managers often face when having to discipline a close staff member.

How to use Bradford index triggers effectively

To get the most out of the Bradford Factor, there are two important things to consider:

1. Use trigger points as a guide only

Bradford Factor trigger points should be treated as a useful guide and not something that is followed strictly.

It’s important that managers make reasonable adjustments for staff classified as disabled, and take into account notes from your return to work process & other available information, before deciding whether to take formal action

2. Don’t rely on trigger points on their own

Trigger points should not be the only mechanism used to evaluate short-term absence and instead should be used as one of a number of factors taken into consideration when evaluating individual absence patterns.

Using Bradford Factor triggers as the sole trigger for action could mean that instances could occur where appropriate action is required a lot sooner than the Bradford Factor would suggest.

For example, three occasions off on a Monday/Friday, for example, would only score 27, but the pattern of absences may warrant earlier management intervention.

Bottom line

Use triggers with caution. Choose trigger points that reflect the way you currently manage absence, and ensure managers use them as a guide to aid the absence management process. We recommend investing in a good absence management system like edays.

Calculate your instant Bradford Factor Score



Katrina Bennett People Director at edays
February 21, 2014

Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.