The month of Ramadan begins today on Wednesday 22nd March and lasts for 30 days. For an inclusive and healthy working culture, employers should take time to recognise the importance of and impact for employees who are fasting during the month. For example, those observing Ramadan may not be inclined to attend social activities or events which are scheduled for the evening during this sacred and reflective time . It’s important for employers to take an inclusive and proactive outlook if employees don’t wish to take part in such activities.
It is important for employers to understand what this might involve for Muslim employees observing Ramadan (or not observing) , including what challenges they could face in the workplace and ensure employees are supported at work during this time. Below are some key tips for employers to follow.
Communicate and demonstrate awareness.
Make sure to discuss with employees who are observing Ramadan what, if any, support they might need whilst working during the period. Flexibility is key. Avoid requiring employees to discuss their personal approach to Ramadan, which could be influenced by health factors. Consider holding meetings at suitable times of the day; avoiding or making it optional to attend working lunches or lunch and learn sessions, evening meetings or social events.
Support flexible working.
One way in which your employees may require support through Ramadan is in respect of their working patterns. The sleep patterns of many observe will be disturbed, waking up early before sunrise to have the first meal of the day (Suhur) and staying up late for prayers (Taraweeh). They may also have extra commitments to observe, such as additional evening prayers often taking place in the last ten days of Ramadan which are of particular significance. Where possible you should try to adopt a practical approach to accommodate.
Identify and offer prayer space.
Many employees observing Ramadan will engage in prayers throughout the day. You should discuss what facilities an employee may need for prayer and meditation, and identify space which can be used temporarily at certain times of the day without interruption.
Be flexible with annual leave requests.
You may receive an increase in the number of annual leave requests from employees, both during Ramadan and particularly towards the end as your employees look to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the three-day festival to mark the end of Ramadan. This year, Eid al-Fitr is expected to start on either Friday 21 April or Saturday 22 April. However, as the date of Eid al-Fitr is determined by the lunar calendar it can be difficult to predict the date accurately in advance, so requests may be made at short notice.
For more great resources on what you can do for your colleagues during Ramadan, visit Muslims in Rail's Ramadan page.