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How to choose Bradford Factor triggers

Authorby 11 October, 2013


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 entirety dependant on the organisation using the Bradford Factor but I usually provide clients with the trigger points used by the UK Prison Service as sensible example.

  • 51 points – verbal warning.
  • 401 points – final warning
  • 201 points – written warning
  • 601 points – dismissal

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 trigger points?

Simple and easy to understand

Setting trigger points can help standardise disciplinary procedures across the organisation. Defining specific thresholds helps to educate staff about the impact of absenteeism and provides an 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%.

Effective comparison tool

Bradford Factor triggers allow managers and HR to easily compare employee absence patterns across the organisation 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 organisation 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.

Using triggers effectively

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

  • 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 Return to Work Interviews & other available information, before deciding whether to take formal action

  • 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 evaluation an 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 which reflect the way you currently manage absence. and ensure managers use them as a guide to aid the absence management process.