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Absence reporting

My company uses the Bradford Factor as part of the control for absence. I feel the levels are high, even though absence has dropped. Our kick-off point for a verbal warning is 280 points, and 4,000 points before dismissal. Other scores and views would be helpful.

Answer 1: I am implementing the Bradford Factor into my organisation. The system provides for the leader to raise the employee’s awareness of a potential poor attendance problem at 200 points and then to commence formal action at 300 points.

Bradford is not to be used to measure improvement in absence since it is a retrospective tool. Employees are set absence targets for the year, and the warning remains on file. If they fail to meet these targets, they progress to the next stage of the formal process.

Answer 2: One company I worked for used 100-, 250- and 500 points, with 1,000 points as the dismissal review point. It seemed to work very well and was acceptable to the union.

It is best to not consider these action points as discipline, but as absence review stages outside the disciplinary procedure.

The back-to-work interview is crucial in this process so that data is collected, absence reasons identified, and the employee advised of the consequences of further absences. During these talks you can decide if the specific absences should be included in the points accumulation.
The whole reason for the Bradford Factor is that people are treated the same in the process. If that is the case, dismissal is more likely to succeed and not be challenged by a tribunal.

Working Time Directive

I have a full-time member of staff on an ‘annualised hours’ contract. He regularly works more than 48 hours a week, and frequently works in excess of 12 hours in one shift. There are periods when he works reduced hours.

Am I right in saying that he should sign a Working Time Directive opt-out agreement, and that he should ensure that he has a break of at least 11 hours between shifts? Is there anything else that I should consider?

Answer 1: The key to the 48-hour figure is that it is an average over a period. Normally that period is 17 weeks, but it can be 26- or 52 weeks depending on the workplace or collective agreements. I would argue that the employee’s annualised hours agreement is a 52-week agreement.

There is nothing wrong with 12-hour shifts and you have said he is getting the 11-hour rest breaks. Your only real concern might be that he could be a health and safety risk and you ought to carry out a risk assessment and monitor him. He will not thank you for it as it seems to me that he is an autonomous worker.

Shift working patterns

I am currently looking at changing our company’s shift working payments. It would be great to hear what other companies class as unsocial working hours and how employees are compensated for working shifts.

Answer 1: We don’t have shift working as such, but where people have to work from 5pm until 8pm, or every other Saturday or Sunday, we classify that as unsocial hours and we give staff an additional allowance of 10% on top of their wages.

Answer 2: I introduced an atypical three-shift working pattern, and associated pay systems, to a manufacturing company:

  • * The night shift – Monday to Thursday 7pm to 7am – paid a 33% supplement. The holiday entitlement was 16 days per year at shift-rate plus Bank Holidays
  • A standard day shift – 7am to 4.15pm Monday to Thursday and 7am to 1pm Friday with no supplements paid and 20 days’ holiday
  • A rolling four days on, four days off – including Saturday and Sunday – 7am to 7pm. Staff were paid a 15% supplement for the atypical hours nature of the shift (not weekend working). The average number of hours that these shift members worked, after the other day shift stopped, equated to 15% of daily hours. We sold weekend working on the basis that they actually got more time off than the other shifts. The holiday entitlement was 16 days per year at shift rate plus Bank Holidays.

Answer 3: We introduced standard shift allowances in our call centre environments, rather than the commonly used percentage of salary approach. Percentage of salary is less controllable and can be unfair on new employees. It can also cause problems for longer-serving staff when they find they cannot afford to move into other non-shift jobs.
A set shift allowance (our full 24/7 shift pattern carries 3,500 per year allowance) is fairer, as the nuisance factor for which you are compensating, is the same for everyone, regardless of their status or their length of service.

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