Supporting employees in Ramadan

RamadanRAMADAN is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and lasts for approximately 30 days. This holy month is celebrated by Muslims worldwide and culminates in the celebration of Eid Ul-Fitr.

During this period, Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset; they will not eat food, drink liquids or smoke. It is also a time of prayer and to give to charity.

Below are some key points to consider to support staff who may be observing Ramadan, which this year runs from April 12 to May 12.

The law

Under the 2010 Equality Act, it is against the law to treat an employee less favourably because of their religion or belief. This means that employers cannot dismiss, refuse to promote, or deny training to someone because of their religion.

Flexible working

You should think about whether it is viable to implement temporary flexible working arrangements during Ramadan. This could include flexible working hours, rest times and duties. For example, you may allow employees to start their working day later, allow them to work through lunch, let them leave work earlier or work from home.

Annual leave

Employees should submit requests in accordance with your practice’s annual leave policy. While you may not be able to grant all requests, try to be as reasonable and fair as possible and accommodate requests as best as you can. If you refuse, you should have clear business reasons to justify this.

Key points

  1. Not all people who identify themselves as Muslim will observe the month of Ramadan.
  2. Observing Ramadan may not be noticeable, so make it easy for your team members to let you know if they are fasting.
  3. If you manage a member of staff who will be observing Ramadan, ensure that you have some one-to-one time to discuss any workplace adjustments that can be considered.
  4. Fasting can affect people in different ways (for example, some people may understandably become a little quieter or slightly tired at times) so it is important to have an environment which allows an open discussion about any difficulties.
  5. Dignity and respect from managers and colleagues is crucial. Be aware that fasting colleagues will not be drinking any fluid (including water) and may therefore feel less energetic and even less inclined to join in office conversations on occasions. Don’t take it personally and ensure communication can be made in other ways where possible.
  6. Ensure staff have reasonable time during the day to complete prayers and an appropriate space is allocated for this purpose. With the additional pressure on staff due to Covid-19, staff may have to vary their times for daily prayers and, hence it is important that staff are provided with a permanent place for prayer if possible.

If you have any specific queries on this please don’t hesitate to contact the employment law team at advice@mddus.com