Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar and Muslims believe that during this month the Qu’ran was revealed to the prophet Mohammed.
During hours of daylight, all able-bodied Muslims give up food and drink, smoking and sexual activity. Fasting is significant because Ramadan is intended to increase self-control in all aspects of life. Most Muslims will wake before dawn for a meal and will break the fast when daylight is over. Muslims will pray and read the Qu’ran more than usual during Ramadan. Evenings are often spent at Mosques in prayer. Ramadan takes place in the summer this year meaning the period of fasting is around 18 hours each day.
Some Muslims who may not be observant during the rest of the year may observe Ramadan.
Organisations, unfamiliar with the practice can be unsure of how to respond, therefore we have outlined 4 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 will be observing Ramadan. It is important to understand how employees commitments may impact their performance or what support may be needed therefore line managers should remain approachable and understanding of the situation.
Given the physical demands of daytime fasting, staff may require some adjustments to be made to their working routine during Ramadan. 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 increased 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.
Given the importance of Ramadan to Muslim employees, it would be advisable to outline your 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 religions.