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How businesses and managers can support their staff who are fasting during Ramadhan

by Chelsey Newsom and Zanub Najmi | 21 April 2021

Chelsey Newsom, Senior Manager and Equality & Diversity Champion, sat down with Zanub Najmi to discuss how businesses can support staff who are fasting during Ramadhan. Zanub also discusses some top tips for those who are fasting during Ramadhan.

Ramadhan is the holy month when Muslims celebrate the revelation of the Holy Quran. It is also a time when Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset, but it is so much more than just abstaining from food and drink. It is a time for spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and heightened devotion and worship. The idea is to be on your best behaviour to attain high reward and carry on with these habits beyond Ramadhan.

Ramadhan lasts around 29 to 30 days, and Eid is then celebrated upon the sighting of the moon.

Zanub discussed her usual day during Ramadhan. She gets up early in the morning and the Sehri/ Fajr is the closing of the fast and morning prayers and this usually takes place around 4:40am on the first day of Ramadhan and thereafter it goes back 2 minutes every day. The Isha prayer and Tarawee begins at 10:00-10:30am and can sometimes last anything up to 2.5 hours. The Zohar which is the midday prayers takes place at 1:15pm every day and the Asr is the third prayer of the day, at the end of the working day at 6:00pm. Maghrib/Iftaar is the opening of the fast and evening prayer which is usually around 8:30-9:00pm. Zanub highlighted the importance of this part of the day as families usually come together to open their fast.

What key things can businesses and managers do to support their staff who are fasting?

  • Flexible working hours
    Allow those who are fasting during Ramadhan to ideally start later in the day. Those who are fasting will be awake at 4:30am closing their fast and engaging in morning prayers (Sehri and Fajr).
  • Be conscious when booking in meetings
    When booking in meetings with those who are fasting, think about timings and try to be flexible around prayer times.
  • Offer a safe space to pray
    While the five prayers are obligatory outside of Ramadhan, Muslims may be more particular about praying on time during this month. For those working within an office, businesses should try and accommodate their staff with a prayer room or some space where they can offer prayers.
  • Be supportive and offer reasonable adjustments
    Understand that people who are fasting may be feeling tired or unwell, as many often suffer headaches within the first week due to dehydration. Ask them how you could support them through this month and implement any adjustments that may need to be made.
  • Annual leave
    Some people may request extra time off during the last ten days of Ramadhan, 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 where they can, to allow their staff to have a greater spiritual connection.
  • If you notice someone not fasting for the day, don't question it
    Many people may be exempt from fasting, they have their reasons for not doing so. It is not appropriate to ask or question why someone is or isn't fasting.

Top tips for those who are fasting and working

  • Communicate with your manager to let them know that you will be fasting during Ramadhan to see how they can support you.
  • Get some fresh air and go for a walk. Being sat at a desk for most of the day can sometimes feel hard when you are fasting but this helps with keeping you energised.
  • Hydration: Make sure you get your daily recommended water intake before sunrise and after sunset as an opportunity to rehydrate.
  • Have coffee or caffeine at the closing fast gives you an energy boost and can sometimes help reduce the headaches you may get.

If you would like some advice about supporting your employees during Ramadhan get in touch with our team today, we would be more than happy to offer some tailored advice.