Ramadan during the coronavirus outbreak
Monday 12 April 2021 signifies the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of the Islamic calendar in which Muslims often commit to a period of fasting during day light hours.
With Covid-19 remaining a present issue across the UK, it is important to remember that some aspects of ordinary life continue whilst still feeling the impact of the virus. To this end, we have outlined four top tips below for supporting staff during this time:
As with most matters, is it important to have honest and open communication with staff who stand to be affected by their religious observance commitments during Ramadan, especially if they are working from home.
Given the physical demands of daytime fasting, staff may require some adjustments to be made to their working routine during Ramadan even if they are working from home. This could include altering shift patterns, allowing staff to start and finish earlier in the day to aid with daytime fasting, or amending workplace duties to reduce the chance of fatigue impacting performance or increasing risk of injury. It is important to remember that the requirements may affect each person differently and organisations should refrain from taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to flexible working arrangements.
Consider that some individuals may wish to use their annual leave entitlement during Ramadan to allow them sufficient opportunity to rest during times of fasting, or to participate in the Eid celebrations that follow.
It may be difficult for an organisation to accommodate annual leave requests as a result of the coronavirus. That said, given the importance of this to those who celebrate it, it is important to be as accommodating as possible. If the full period requested cannot be permitted, could at least part of it be allowed? Would colleagues be in a position to handle increased workload and, it not, does work distribution need to be reconsidered.
Given the importance of Ramadan to Muslim employees it would be advisable to outline the organisation’s approach in a religious observance policy, giving individuals a clear source of information on their rights at work during this time. Having said this, any policy will need to be inclusive, giving equal footing to other religious, in order to avoid further claims of religious discrimination.