The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on 22 March and will end 29 or 30 days later. During Ramadan, healthy adult Muslims observe a fast between dawn and dusk. Exceptions are made for those who are pregnant, menstruating or in poor health.
There is no automatic right to time off for religious observances. Subject to any agreement you might reach with your staff they would be expected to come to work as usual during Ramadan (and, indeed, during Eid al-Fitr which follows it).
There are several points which employers should consider when looking to support Muslim employees during Ramadan:
- Awareness is important. You should make sure that all employees are aware of the timing of Ramadan and that discrimination or harassment on grounds of religion will not be tolerated.
- You have an obligation to support the wellbeing of your employees. Consider what adjustments you might be able to put in place to help your employees with the impact of fasting. For example, you could replace a lunch hour with several smaller breaks and could avoid scheduling long meetings where concentration might be an issue.
- Do not assume that all Muslim employees will need adjustments or, indeed, that they will be observing Ramadan. There are specific exceptions for menstruation, pregnancy and ill health. Muslim employees who are not observing Ramadan for one of these reasons may not wish to discuss such personal issues or have attention brought to them.
- You should consider the appropriateness of holding social events focused on eating or drinking. You want to make sure that employees do not feel excluded.
Find out how we can help. Our partner, Jon Dunkley, heads the Wollens specialist Employment Department. Contact him today for an informal chat, without obligation on 01271 342268 or via email at [email protected].