This year, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on Tuesday, 15 May and ends on Thursday 14 June. During Ramadan Muslims are prohibited from consuming food and drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset for 30 days.
Many Muslims will carry on working during Ramadan and can be affected by a drop in energy, feeling tired and experiencing lower concentration levels.
Supporting Employees During Ramadan
In the UK, employers have a duty to comply with the Equality Act 2010 by maintaining a working environment in which no one is put at a disadvantage because of their religion or belief. Companies may be at risk of discrimination claims if they treat those observing Ramadan less favourably than other employees, or if they operate policies that cause those observing Ramadan to suffer a disadvantage.
To help you to support all your employees during the Ramadan period, ACAS has come up with a set of guidance notes. The guidance states that: “It would be helpful if staff are made aware of when Ramadan is, how long it lasts, and what the fasting entails. While few Muslims would expect their colleagues to abstain from eating and drinking in front of them, particularly in workplaces where lunch is commonly eaten at one’s desk, sensitivity is often appreciated. It’s considerate to offer an acknowledgement of a fasting colleague, or a simple polite request to be excused for eating. On the other hand, working lunches, meetings based around shared food, staff meals and away days are best avoided if possible, or carried out with special arrangements for those who are fasting.”
Read more here.
At HCHR, we would advise you take the following steps:
- Communicate to staff to inform them of Ramadan as this is a good opportunity to inform all employees of what fasting entails and the effect on colleagues taking part.
- Offer support by being flexible with working hours, duties at work and break times. A fasting employee’s day starts much earlier so arrange for meetings, training and other important tasks to be held in the mornings when employees’ energy levels are likely to be higher.
- Approach requests for breaks sensitively as fasting employees may prefer to start earlier, miss or reduce lunch breaks, and get home so they can end the day’s fast with their families.
- It is good practice for employers to have a Ramadan policy, which sets out the standard expected of all employees.
For further help and guidance on supporting employees during the Ramadan period, call HCHR today on the number below: