Have you planned for Ramadan?

Ramadan begins today (Wednesday 22 March) and continues until Friday 21 April. It is known as the holy month for Muslims across the world, who participate in Ramadan by (amongst other things) fasting during daylight hours. This observance may have an impact on your workplace.

It is important to be open and recognise that some employees may be affected by Ramadan and seek to be accommodating. Fasting may create fatigue and issues with concentration and the more open the approach to discussing these effects, the easier it will be to manage.

Whilst there is no automatic right to time off to celebrate or take part in religious ceremonies, clearly employers should accommodate employees’ religion where possible and treat all employees consistently. Employers should work with their employees to support holiday leave during this time as a means of showing equal respect to all religions.

Given the physical demands of fasting, it is worth considering working hours adjustments such as altering shift patterns, changing start and finish times to accommodate sunrise and sunset. Fasting can affect each person differently and it is imperative to have individual discussions rather than imposing changes with no consultation.

Employers should ensure that staff are considerate and sensitive to Muslim colleagues which may mean reminding staff that appropriate action will be taken against anyone found responsible for offensive behaviour and that “workplace banter” will not be accepted as an excuse for discrimination.

Because meals can only be eaten between sunset and sunrise, this makes nightshift working particularly difficult; and there is an increased responsibility to offer more prayers during these times.  Therefore, additional breaks may be required to eat, drink and pray and a quiet, private area should be provided.

With a little sensitivity and planning, employees affected by Ramadan can continue to work normally. If you would like to discuss how this may affect your workplace, contact us on 0800 9995 121.

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