by Sellick Partnership | 21 May 2019
The holy month of Ramadan can be an understandably challenging time for employees which means it is important for businesses to be aware of what they can do to support Muslim employees who are fasting. Here we offer information and advice to business leaders in order to equip you with the tools needed to make the month as comfortable as possible.
Ramadan is observed by Muslims across the globe and it’s an opportunity to celebrate the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. During this time, those taking part will fast from sunrise to sunset, but it’s much more than just abstaining from food and drink.
Ramadan is a time to reflect on one’s actions and words, offering the opportunity to purify the mind, body and soul. It is a spiritual and physical detox in a sense, as well as providing the chance to get closer to God and become more compassionate to those in need.
During this month, Muslims dedicate as much time as they can to worship and undertaking charitable deeds, as the rewards are multiplied in this month. The idea is to be on your best behaviour to attain high reward and carry on with these habits beyond Ramadan.
Ramadan lasts around 29 or 30 days, and Eid is then celebrated upon the sighting of the moon.
How can business leaders help/support staff that are taking part in Ramadan?
There are a number of ways businesses can support staff during Ramadan. They include:
- Offer a safe space to pray: while the five prayers are obligatory outside of Ramadan, Muslims can be more particular about praying on time during this month. Businesses should try and accommodate their staff with a prayer room or some space where they can offer prayers.
- Be considerate: people should try and be considerate when eating around those who are fasting whenever they can. It is a good idea to avoid asking if a person is fasting. They may not be able to fast for a number of reasons, which can be quite hard, especially for someone wanting that spiritual connection.
- Be understanding: when someone is fasting, they may not have the energy to go out for company events or other social gatherings. Be sensitive to their needs and religious sentiments and be supportive in any way you can.
- Accommodate flexible working: this may be easier to execute following the COVID-19 pandemic, but offering flexibility to those taking part in Ramadan can be transformational. Employers could discuss whether there are any temporary arrangements that can be made.
- Annual leave requests: employers may notice there are more requests for time off which may come from those observing the festival. These may come at short notice because Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar which focuses on monthly cycles of the Moon's phases.
- Making colleagues who aren’t taking part in Ramadan aware: this encourages other members of the team to be supportive of their fasting colleagues.
What are the challenges while working?
It can be difficult to go through each day without food and drink, particularly when there are longer daytime hours in the UK. Sleeping patterns are also massively disrupted, so energy will be low and concentration levels will not be the same as outside of Ramadan.
People can experience extreme drowsiness as a result of low energy and lack of adequate sleep and it can also be exhausting to commute while fasting, which can be difficult to avoid if your job requires frequent travel.
Some other things to consider are:
- Re-evaluating the work of staff who are fasting. The key for senior staff and all colleagues is to be patient with those who are fasting and assist where they can to help make the month go by smoother.
- Not to assume because members of staff are fasting, they won’t need to take breaks. Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during the working day, if you work more than six hours a day.
- Avoid company events that offer lunch or food in general during this time. All senses are heightened while fasting, particularly your sense of smell. It may make participation at such events harder than a regular day of fasting.
- Some people may request extra time off during the last ten days of Ramadan, as those are considered to be the most important nights. Many men confine themselves to the mosque, dedicating them to worship and women can choose to do the same in their homes to achieve a greater reward. Businesses should try to accommodate these needs when they can to allow their staff to have a greater spiritual connection.
If you are currently taking part in Ramadan we would love to hear about your experiences and what your business is doing to support you. Please contact us, or you can engage with us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.