This year I quite severely injured myself and had to have an operation leaving me out of work for 3 weeks. The company have included this in my Bradford score which makes it much worse. Other than that in the year where I work full time, I have had 2 sick days off.

The Bradford score is calculated by 'instances^2 * days off', so by including my injury I have hit a Bradford score of 153, which means I got a verbal warning. Without my injury it would have been 4. This means if I have any more sick days off, the company said, they would have a formal meeting as policy (HR + managers). As my injury had massively impacted my Bradford score and is out of my control, is it unfair of the company to use my now large Bradford score to punish me against policy? I've only had 2 individual sick days in the last 7 months, and now if I have another single in the next 5 months I get punished.

  • 4
    Can you let us know your location? Also, when you ask if it's "wrong" do you mean that in the legal sense, or ethically? Or in terms of company policy?
    – dwizum
    Nov 13, 2019 at 17:27
  • I'm in the UK, I'm interested in both. However generally I do like my company so I don't plan on doing anything, im interested to know where I stand. Nov 13, 2019 at 17:30
  • 1
    " Bradford Factor is that short, frequent and unplanned absences prove more disruptive to a business than longer, approved absences". The moment you informed your employee of your doctor notice it have become longer, approved absence. So they might count your score wrong. Nov 14, 2019 at 8:41
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    "Bradford score" is actually the worst bullshit that I have ever heard of. The company isn't just wrong for applying it, they are bloody morons. You were ill for 17 days (15 + 1 + 1). Someone who was ill once for 152 days would have a better score than you. Plain idiocy.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 14, 2019 at 11:55
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    @morbo: Bradford score is not just a maths equation. It is an outrageously stupid maths equation.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 14, 2019 at 11:56

4 Answers 4


Personally, I consider the "Bradford Factor" something that HR people use when they flunked basic math in grammar school. It does not give you anything but a meaningless number that you can use to look up consequences if doing your actual job as HR on a case-by-case basis somehow is too challenging and you'd rather follow a script.

The Bradford Factor is a formula employers can use to monitor unauthorised absences.

Now, your absence should not be "unauthorized" in the first place. You should have a doctors note, that in civilized countries should have a higher authority than anybody in your company. If a doctor gives you a certificate of being unfit for work, there should be nobody outside the medical profession claiming authority to decide otherwise.

However, your company might think otherwise. It might be invaded by HR people too challenged to do their job right and bosses who do not stand up to that. In that case, who is left you can trust to do the right thing? Just you and your coworkers? Then get the hell out. Probably get a lawyer first to fight the warning and then get the hell out. Because the way you are heading is that you can get fired for being hit by a bus without any wrongdoing on your side at all. Better take the initiative now, because should you really get hit by a bus, you should worry about your health only, not about your health and your job. Go find a company that deserves you.

  • 3
    If OP has one more sick day, his score will be higher than that of a person who didn't turn up for work all year. That's how stupid that score is.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 14, 2019 at 12:00
  • @gnasher729 the scoring can be ridiculous, chances are that anybody off for a year wouldn't have that score counted on the BF as it would be long-term sickness, therefore their score could be 0!
    – MattR
    Nov 14, 2019 at 12:10

Bradford Score: https://www.kashflow.com/blog/bradford-factor-calculator/

Your current situation is one of the disadvantages of using Bradford Score.

IMHO, if you like your current company, and your medical condition is not affecting your performance when you at work, you should send a letter to HR / Direct Manager, explaining your absence and stating that your score is affected only by your temporary medical situation and that should improve (here should be time-frame when you all better and not affected by it)

Also, in this link description, only unplanned absences are counted, so if you informed your employer, it should not count in to your score

P.S. You could also look in to "Reasonable adjustments" section


The Bradford factor is just a way to quickly gauge for potential issues.

Realistically if someone looked at the case and you had a valid medical reason for the absence they shouldn't give you a warning - but that's just it, it's really something that depends on if someone just saw the score and gave a warning because they blindly follow the score.. or if someone uses the score and then assesses things in more depth.

If this issue was a genuine injury that you were signed off of work by a doctor, and lets say you had another injury and were signed off again resulting in your dismissal based on the score that would be a large cause for concern and in the UK you could potentially have an Unfair Dismissal case.

But in terms of a warning - there is nothing legally wrong with them giving you a verbal warning for going over a particular score sadly. (Though they should do a more care check into the reasons why the score was over the threshold)

  • 3
    Sounds like the company (or perhaps just a particular person within the company) has applied a "if-this-then-that" approach without using any kind of critical thinking or circumstantial information. The Bradford score is mostly intended to weight multiple short term absences more heavily as they are generally more disruptive (vs. if you know someone has been signed off for 3 weeks and then you can re-arrange people to provide cover, delay deadlines or whatever). In OPs position I would be inclined to appeal the verbal warning. Nov 13, 2019 at 19:47
  • 1
    Three random days are worse than three weeks? Four random days are worse than 13 weeks?
    – gnasher729
    Nov 18, 2019 at 10:55
  • @gnasher729 Not to defend the thing in any way. It's total bullshit. But for a lot of work then yes. People not turning up to work one day can cause a lot of disruption that wouldn't happen if you knew in advance so you can schedule people to cover.
    – Kaz
    Dec 17, 2022 at 0:25

Ethically wrong, certainly, legally, it depends on your jurisdiction.

If they're not going to take into account your medical reasons, then it's time to move on. The reason being that they just demonstrated to you that they care about the numbers and ONLY the numbers. There is an old saying, "The map is not the territory".

Things like the Bradford factor are supposed to be used as tools to aid in analytics, not as artificial intelligence. I suspect that your manager is using it as artificial intelligence because he has precious little of his own.

You should go to HR for clarification on this matter and see if you can get it removed from your record. Then update your resume and send it out to see if you can find a better position, just in case this is not a fluke and is instead an indication that your company has more serious issues.


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