Top tips on supporting your staff during Ramadan

3 mins
Sellick  Partnership

By Sellick Partnership

The month of Ramadan can be a challenging time for Muslim employees which means it is important for businesses to be aware of what they can do to support. Here we offer information and advice to business leaders in order to equip you with the tools needed to make this time as comfortable as possible.

Ramadan (also spelled Ramadhan) is observed by Muslims across the globe and is 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.

In some of the Spring and Summer days, sunrise to sunset can range from 11 to 16 hours here in the UK. So with employees often working these hours during Ramadan, what can be done to help? Find out more here.

How can business leaders help and 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. It's a good idea to let this continue even after Ramadan has ended.
  • Be considerate: 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. Not every Muslim will be fasting, they may not be able to fast for a number of reasons, including poor physical or mental health and those menstruating. This can be difficult or awkward to explain to co-workers, 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 during Ramadan: offering flexibility to those taking part in Ramadan can be transformational. Employers could discuss whether there are any temporary arrangements that can be made. This could include earlier starts and earlier finishes or working through lunch breaks to finish earlier. However, it is important not to assume that someone working during Ramadan will want to work through their lunch - they might actually be looking forward to the break.
  • Annual leave requests: employers may notice there are more requests for time off which may come from those taking part in Ramadan. 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. Members of teams may be wondering how to wish someone a happy Ramadan (Ramadan Mubarak), and this could be an opportunity to teach co-workers and for them to learn more about it.
What are the challenges while working during Ramadan?

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 you can to help make the month go by smoother.
  • Don't assume that 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. Staff may choose to work over their breaks, especially if this means finishing early.
  • 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 taking part in Ramadan we would love to hear about what your business is doing to support you. Please contact us, or you can engage with us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.