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Bradford Factor for sickness absence

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MissMinton, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. MissMinton

    MissMinton New commenter

    Hi there! I have a question about sickness absence. I've interviewed for a job as a teaching assistant at an independent school, and in the course of the interview it came up (okay, I asked about paid sick days because I have a disability that means I take a few more than others do in the course of a year) that they use something called the Bradford Factor to inform how many paid sick days you get. Basically, after you hit a "trigger point"--the example the principal gave for a TA was 2.5 days--you have a meeting with the principal, at which point it's at his "discretion" whether further sick days will be paid.

    Research indicates that some employers use the Bradford Factor as a trigger for disciplinary measures and even dismissal. I don't know whether this school uses it this way, though.

    I have depression--largely well managed, but, as is common, it flares up when I'm physically ill and makes it more likely that I'll need a day to rest when others might struggle in. I take 4-5 sick days a year on average, usually spread out (which scores worse on the Bradford Factor).

    This place is going to phone me on Monday with their decision. It looks like a really exciting place to work in other ways, with a focus I'm passionate about, a great ethos, and an active and growing Learning Support team. The SENCo and I clicked really well. The principal seemed a decent guy and responded sensitively to my question about sick days. (He could see, because I had disclosed it on the application form in response to a question about it, my history of sickness absence and the long term leave I took in spring 2017).

    This Bradford thing worries me, though. Has anyone encountered it? Is it a really bad sign? If they give me an offer, should I:

    B) Ask more questions and try to look at the staff handbook before accepting? Is this okay to do?
    C) Accept based on the positives and figure inquiries about my absence record are likely to happen wherever I work, and disability law will protect me from being too affected by it?

  2. phatsals

    phatsals Established commenter

    A great many employers use it, it's unusual for them to actually specify it, but it's there. It highlights those that take lots of odd days off and multiplies them out. I've copied a link for you to check it out yourself, to see how it's applied.


    If it feels like the right place for you then accept. It sounds like you got on well with the staff you met and that goes a long way,

    FWIW, long term absence, using the Bradford Index doesn't cause a problem.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Lots and lots of schools use it for absence monitoring.
    I wouldn't worry, and I have the same illness as you and take a similar number of days most years.
    caress and MissMinton like this.
  4. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    The Equality Act and disability discrimination law specifies that reasonable adjustments must be considered for long term medical conditions (deprssion would be covered). A common such adjustment is to not enforce the trigger points under Bradford Factor that non-disabled employees would be subject to.
  5. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    The Bradford Scale is designed to prevent people taking days off for a runny nose or that sort of thing. The fact that an institution uses it should not prevent you from applying and working there.
  6. MissMinton

    MissMinton New commenter

    Thanks for your certainty. I was wondering if it betrayed a culture of mistrust for employees or a data-focused, soulless approach that I should be worried about; a couple of people I talked to were very dubious about it. I don't want to be posting here in a year's time saying I'm being threatened with the sack for having three colds in the year! But it sounds like it's at most a yellow flag, not a red one.
  7. Mnemonomorph

    Mnemonomorph New commenter

    Could I ask what kind of reasonable adjustments could be asked for/made in the case of depression?
  8. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    Certainly the one I mentioned about NOT applying the same Bradford Factor trigger points for days absent.
    Others could include things like paid time off in school day for counselling; removing you from any "learning walks" programme for a period to enable you to focus on your class teaching without other strain.
  9. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

  10. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    When I was at my worst I had twice weekly meetings (one with the head and one with the deputy) to discuss issues while they were still very small and so preventing them becoming overwhelming.
    Reduced duties meaning I could leave earlier in the evenings (ie no duties to 6pm and only one a week until 5pm).
    Those sort of things.
    agathamorse likes this.
  11. Mnemonomorph

    Mnemonomorph New commenter

    strawbs likes this.

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