Supporting Ramadan in the workplace
Supporting Ramadan in the workplace
In this article, Senior HR Consultant, Louise Angell discusses Ramadan and offers advice on how to support Ramadan in the workplace.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslim people worldwide as they fast, pray, reflect, and focus on their communities.
Self-restraint and self-reflection are cornerstones of Ramadan, and the month-long fast is viewed as a way to cleanse one’s soul and empathise with the less fortunate. The fast occurs every day from dawn until sunset and includes refraining from food and drink.
Dates of Ramadan
Ramadan 2023 began across the UK and around the world on Wednesday 22nd March, with Muslims preparing for the first day of fasting the following day (Thursday 23rd March). Ramadan is predicted to end on the evening of Friday 21st April 2023.
How can it affect your employees?
Between fasting and a potentially altered sleep schedule, it can be common for Muslim people to experience dehydration, fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms during Ramadan.
What can you do to support Ramadan in the workplace?
- Ramadan falls at a different time of year each year, get a head start and find out when the current year’s is and make a note in the calendar.
- Once your calendars are marked, consider sending an annual holiday greeting email commemorating Ramadan just as you might for Christmas.
- Offer accommodating schedules. It can be difficult working an entire day without eating or drinking. As well as this, night time prayers are likely to interrupt normal sleeping patterns. Your employee may benefit from a change in their start or finish time or even temporary adjustments to their break times.
- Maybe a temporary working-from-home arrangement would be of benefit.
- Muslims break their fast with a meal at sunset, called Iftar. If possible, allow employees to schedule their shifts around these important meal times. Not only does this show respect for the employee’s religion, but workers may be more productive after eating a meal and prefer to work in the morning after Suhoor or at night after Iftar.
- Be mindful of meetings. Try to avoid ‘working lunches’ and consider holding virtual meetings at this time, this is good practice and shows consideration.
Provide proper prayer spaces to show support of Ramadan in the workplace.
During Ramadan you may have employees wishing to pray. If possible, try to accommodate these requests to show your support of Ramadan in the workplace. If you have space available allow employees to book out a meeting room or wellness space so they have a safe private room to pray. However, if this isn’t possible, consider allowing employees time to attend a local mosque
What happens at the end of Ramadan?
The end of Ramadan is usually after 29 or 30 days, depending on the visibility of the new moon’s crescent.
The day starts with an early visit to the mosque for a morning prayer known as “Salat Al Eid”. After the prayer, there is food and drinks with family. For most children, it is even more fun because they also receive presents.
The festivities last for three days and vary from country to country. Most Muslims visit friends and family, exchange presents, enjoy feasts and put on new clothes.
Do employees have the right to time off for religious holidays?
While there is no automatic right to time off for religious reasons, businesses should be sensitive to the needs of employees who are observing religious events, including Ramadan.
For the most part, Muslims go about their daily business as we normally would, despite not being able to eat or drink anything the whole day.
Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employees are entitled to one mandatory 20-minute break every six hours; however, given the importance placed on prayer during Ramadan, Muslim employees may wish to take rest breaks throughout the day in order to pray.
Discrimination In the UK.
Employees are protected under the Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”) against discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. As followers of Islam, Muslims who practice Ramadan receive protection under the Act. It covers various types of discrimination, but direct and indirect discrimination are most relevant to the workplace.
At HPC we feel employers should consider developing a specific policy on religious observance. This can help formalise the employer’s approach to dealing with the practical issues outlined above. It will also provide a useful resource for both line managers and employees.
To find out more information or if you require any advice about supporting Ramadan in the workplace, get in contact with our team of experts.
T: 0330 107 1037