Advice for Employers whose Staff are Working during Ramadan
Top Tips for if Your Staff are Working during Ramadan
This year, Ramadan will begin on the evening of Sunday 5th May and will last for approximately 30 days, ending around Tuesday 4th June.
In this month many Muslims will take part in a fast from sunrise to sunset. They do so to practise spiritual discipline and show commitment to their faith.
Many Muslims who participate in Ramadan also dedicate extra time to studying their holy book, the Quran, and praying. Often Muslims also donate to charity and carry out acts of generosity during Ramadan.
With nearly three and a half million Muslims living in the UK, it is quite likely that at least one of your employees will observe Ramadan.
You might be worried about how to approach staff observing the fast and how to support them throughout the month, especially if you are not a Muslim yourself.
We thought it would be helpful to give some advice on how you can best support your employees, keeping their best interests as a top priority.
Supporting Employees who are Working During Ramadan
Because the Ramadan fast begins at sunrise, it is likely that any staff observing it will be more productive in the morning but may begin to lag as the day goes on and their energy levels drop.
This will be especially true for the first few days as their body gets used to the fast.
Of course, your ability to be flexible will depend on the nature of your business and the employees’ roles, however you should consider allowing more flexibility for those observing the fast.
This could mean a varying or temporarily different shift pattern, and/or different break times than usual.
Some people may wish to start their shift earlier so that they can be more productive for longer and finish earlier. Others might prefer to work their usual hours but take a longer break so they can pray or rest.
If it is possible for your employees to work from home for some days, it might be helpful to suggest that they do so in order to make it easier for them to pray and be with family.
It could also be a good idea to create a temporary prayer room – or several if you have many Muslims working within your company – so that your staff can observe their faith at ease during working hours.
The main thing to keep in mind is to be as flexible as possible during the month of Ramadan in order to keep things fair in the workplace.
Creating a Ramadan Policy
Ramadan lasts longer than most other religious celebrations, and due to the fast is often a lot more intense in the way it affects people’s lives.
It is very symbolic and important to many Muslims in the UK, so it might be a good idea to create a Ramadan policy to implement for the month.
The policy could include flexibility concerning breaks and working hours, and annual leave allowances for employees.
By creating a policy you will document your standards and expectations in a clear and accessible way. This is important for your business and employees.
If your workplace policy doesn’t include a “no food at your desk” rule already, a temporary Ramadan policy could do so. This will act as a sign of respect for those fasting.
The policy could also lay out the standards of work you expect from fasting employees, as well as behavioural standards you expect from non-fasting employees towards their fasting coworkers.
You could use this part of your Ramadan policy to prevent people asking intrusive or personal questions which might make others feel uncomfortable, such as why someone is or isn’t fasting.
Attitudes to Work throughout Ramadan
Muslims observing Ramadan are encouraged to go about their day-to-day lives as usual, however this can sometimes be difficult because they have to function without food or water for such a long period each day.
For those participating in Ramadan, their sleeping patterns can also often become disrupted. Because the days are also becoming longer and warmer, you may see a dip in productivity and performance over the next month or so.
Whilst at work, employees who are fasting should never be exempt from disciplinary procedures and the fact that they are fasting shouldn’t be used as an excuse for unplanned absences, misconduct or lateness.
However, you should consider being slightly more lenient towards fasting employees – within reason of course.
For example, you should understand that they might take a little longer than usual to complete tasks, or might make simple mistakes that they wouldn’t normally.
If your business is quite high-paced and/or physically demanding, you should do your best to make sure that any fasting employees get frequent breaks so that they don’t become overtired.
You should bear in mind that important meetings would be best held early in the day so that your employees are more focussed. This will benefit them and the entire business.
Bringing People Together During Ramadan
You and your non-fasting employees should bear in mind that during the month of Ramadan it’s unlikely that fasting employees will want to take part in after-work events.
They will likely be unable to join in, and might have plans to celebrate sundown with their family. They might just be too tired after a long day of fasting.
They should never be made to feel guilty for not joining in. It could be a good idea to write this into your Ramadan policy.
The purpose of fasting is to strengthen your self-control, practice being the best version of yourself and feel greater empathy towards those living in poverty.
It might be a good idea to get those fasting to speak to non-fasting employees to tell them a little about Ramadan, so that everyone knows the reason behind the fast and can help out by being understanding and flexible.
You could even organise fundraising or donation opportunities which bring together those observing the fast with those not, as well as helping out your local community.