For thousands of practising Muslims across the UK, 2nd April marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. During this time Muslims abstain from eating or drinking during daylight hours, with one meal (known as the suhoor), just before dawn and another (known as the iftar), directly after sunset.
Those employees who are taking part in Ramadan may require additional support and guidance. Employers and managers can ensure that this time is as easy as it can be for employees.
How to support employees during Ramadan
Diversity and inclusion are the cornerstones of the modern workplace, and everyone should feel welcome. Consider the key ways you can support your employees, such as:
Being flexible with working hours is one way to accommodate employees taking part in Ramadan. This may help with tiredness and fatigue employees may be experiencing.
It may be that an earlier start time is an option, or possibly regular breaks to allow more time to rest and reduce the chance of burnout. Team meetings could be moved to earlier in the day when employees may be more productive and less fatigued compared to lunchtime meeting. Also, you can consider a private space for those who are fasting to go to during lunchtime when other employees may be eating in the office.
Social or client-facing activities outside the workplace or out of working hours may also need considering. It is important to be sensitive to this and ensure your employees don’t suffer any negative consequences as a result, which would almost certainly be considered discrimination.
Legality around HR policies
Employees may request time off during the month of Ramadan. It’s important that employers remember they cannot refuse holiday requests on religious grounds. Religion is one of the nine characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010 and employers should consider this when monitoring productivity.
It’s important to establish a fair system of granting holiday requests and if necessary, have open discussion with staff. All employers should already have a clear policy in place regarding religious holidays.
Communication is key and having an open discussion with those that are participating in the month of Ramadan, will ensure an inclusive working environment.
If your organisation is seeking support around HR policies, or how to effectively manage these, please contact our expert team.