Alternatives to the Bradford Factor

When it comes to numerical metrics there are a couple of alternatives to the Bradford Factor. The biggest problem with the Bradford Factor is that a lot of employers will use it as a blanket rule to punish and even dismiss employees based on the score.

What are the alternatives to the Bradford Factor?

This is a common question. What other choices do you have when analysing employee absences?

In this post we will show you a couple of different metrics that can be used instead of the Bradford Factor. They both give you a better indication of how your business is doing overall, and help highlight potential problem areas.

Lost Time Rate

Rather than looking at just one employee at a time, the Lost Time Rate is a way for you to discover how big of a problem you have with absences across your entire organisation.

The way the Lost Time Rate works is to compare the amount of time lost to absences compared to the total amount of potential time employees could have been worked.

The formula for the Lost Time Rate is really simple:

Lost Time Rate = ( Total Time Absent / Total Time Employees Could Have worked ) x 100

Let’s look at an example. Imagine you have a total of 20 employees. After holiday, each employee should work about 225 days per year. This means that the total amount of time employees could have worked, each year is:

20 x 220 = 4,500 days

Let’s also imagine that over the course of the last year, there have been a total of 75 days taken as unplanned absences. You can then calculate the Lost Time Rate as follows:

Lost Time Rate = (75 / 4,500) x 100 = 1.7%

In this simple example, we have based the calculations as total days over a year. But you could just as easily use hours, and even use shorter periods of time.

You could also perform this calculation for different departments or teams, and then compare each of these to the overall company rate.

If you find that there is a high Lost Time Rate in a given department, you can then investigate possible reasons.

Be careful with Lost Time Rate, a couple of employees with poor absence records can drastically impact the overall rate. It’s important to remember to take everything into account when investigating if you have an absenteeism problem.

Absence Frequency Rate

The Absence Frequency Rate is a simple metric that tells you how many different unplanned absences there have been. One of the main reasons for the Bradford Factor is the assumption that more unplanned absences have a bigger drain on a business than fewer longer absences.

The formula for calculating the Absence Frequency Rate is simply:

Absence Frequency Rate = ( Number of Unplanned Absence Spells / Number of Employees ) x 100

Let’s look at an example for this. Let’s keep the same 20 employees we had from the previous examples. In the past month there have been a total of 7 different absence spells across all your employees. Using this, we can calculate the frequency rate like this:

Absence Frequency Rate = ( 7 / 20 ) * 100 = 35%

Just like with the Lost Time Rate. The thing to do now is do the calculation again, but just for each team or department. You can then compare these results to your company rate.

Another approach is to compare the Absence Frequency Rates on a month by month basis to look for trends to see if you have growing absenteeism problem.


Just like with the Bradford Factor, the Lost Time Rate, and the Absence Frequency Rate are metrics that can tell you a little about absenteeism in your business. But rather than focussing in on a single employee, they let you see the bigger picture.

If you use them both together, they can be very informative.

Try out these alternatives to the Bradford Factor

What do you think about these alternatives to the Bradford Factor?

Give them a try to see what they tell you. Start Simple, what is the Lost Time Rate at you company for the last 12 months? Then, keep going. Get a better picture of how much unplanned absences you actually have and see if you can spot a pattern to them.

Once you have spotted a pattern, it’s time to investigate why, and proactively work to improve things.

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