Ramadan

During Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours. For those working in more physical roles, such as in the care industry for example, it is particularly important to ensure they are well supported…

Ramadan began on Monday 12 April 2021. During this holy month for those of the Islamic faith, many Muslims commit to fasting during daylight hours. This means they take in no food or drink (including water or chewing gum) from sunrise to sunset, and instead will eat in the early hours and then late in the evening once it is dark. Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days depending on the moon cycle.

Cecily asked a good friend to confirm that breaking Fast takes place at the end of the day when the sun sets. He told her how difficult it is, for instance in the UK, when we are in British Summer Time (BST). Sometimes it can be 10 pm before the setting of the sun – a long time to have not a drop of water or a morsel pass your lips!

How can you support employees who are fasting?

Be open to communication and discussion: Your staff may be reluctant to reveal that they are fasting, in case they are treated differently, or are considered unreliable. It is important to be approachable and understanding, so that they are not uncomfortable discussing their needs with their employer, case managers, or family. Most Muslims pray five times a day. You may not know they are doing so, maybe they take time out to be in a quiet place – sometimes needing only 10 minutes to complete their ablutions and prayer. Your staff might be grateful if you discuss their needs with them and show empathy.

Have a policy in place: Like Christmas and Easter, Ramadan is an important part of the year for Muslims, so it is important to have a company policy on matters of religious observance. Make sure that it applies equally to all faiths in order to avoid claims of discrimination.

Be aware of harassment: Colleagues and clients may make derogatory comments if they think other members of staff are getting special treatment or taking breaks when no one else can. Make sure that all staff are aware that action will be taken against anyone making comments or displaying behaviour considered offensive.

Be flexible: Talk to staff who are fasting about how flexible working or a different shift pattern could help them. Some people may suffer from fatigue during the day while they are fasting, so they may prefer to switch to earlier or later working hours. Be aware that if they are eating very early in the morning or late at night, that some shift patterns may make life difficult. Allowing them to start and finish earlier may help them to better manage daytime fasting. Or perhaps you could discuss less heavy duties during this time. It is really important that you discuss this with each individual member of staff, rather than making a blanket policy for all.

Manage holiday requests: Most of us in human resources (HR) in the UK expect to receive more holiday requests over Christmas and the school holidays, but we may not be so prepared for the requests for annual leave that may come from those fasting during Ramadan. Be aware that some of your Muslim staff may want to take leave so that they can rest while they are fasting – or have time off to celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr (which means breaking the fast) around 12-13 May 2021. Allowing all your staff time off for Ramadan or Eid may be difficult, but you should be as accommodating as possible, to avoid any risk of discrimination. Perhaps you can allow them to take some of the requested leave, if not all of it. You also need to consider how the extra work will be distributed, so that other members of the care staff are not under too much pressure.

We’d like to wish our clients, families and their employees good health and well over the Fast.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

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Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.