Ramadan HR Support: Do you have any employees observing Ramadan?

Saturday 2 April 2022 was the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of the Islamic calendar in which Muslims often commit to a period of fasting between sunrise and sunset.

You might have staff working in the office, at home, or from another location, so it’s advisable to have a dialogue about their needs. Individuals may initially be hesitant to approach their employer about how these commitments could impact their performance so having a proactive approach to opening that dialogue can be helpful.

A restricted intake of food may have a negative impact on productivity levels, especially towards later working hours. This should be considered where there are any temporary drops in performance for Muslim employees. Muslim employees should not be treated less favourably because they are observing Ramadan, and this extends to the effects of fasting. To do otherwise could amount to discrimination.

How might you as the employer show your support?

Our team of HR advisors have put together their Ramadan HR Support key takeaways.

Annual leave

It may be that individuals prefer to use their annual leave during Ramadan.

Effects of Ramadan can be physically taxing, so you might be able to allow annual leave to be taken at this time. Alternatively, they may want to save it for the Eid celebrations after.

Obviously, it’s important to be consistent with the rules that are normally applied to holiday booking, its equally good to be clear on exceptions that might be made with last minute requests for example, or where there are several team members wishing to have the same period off.

You as the employer might not be able to accommodate the whole period but explore options such as allowing part of the leave or redistributing work amongst team members.

Flexible working

Consider allowing adjustments to work routines during Ramadan, such as working from home, altering shift patterns, changing start and finish times to aid daytime fasting, or amending workplace duties to reduce the chance of fatigue impacting performance or increasing risk of injury. You might look to schedule important meetings in the morning when energy levels of employees are likely to be higher.

Remember fasting can affect each person differently so a “one size fits all” approach probably won’t be appropriate.

Policy

Given the importance of Ramadan to Muslim employees you might consider highlighting your approach using a religious observance policy that provides a clear source of information on their rights at work during this time.

Harassment

Unfortunately, there is the potential unwanted treatment and/or religious harassment at work during Ramadan, either at the hands of third parties or fellow colleagues. Colleagues might see adjustments made for their Muslim colleagues as special treatment or resent any additional duties they have been asked to pick-up. Educating other employees can help with this, but also reminding staff that appropriate action will be taken against anyone found responsible for offensive behaviour and that “workplace banter” will not be accepted as a legitimate excuse for discrimination.

If you would like more guidance on supporting employees through religious festivals, or a policy drafting to show your commitment to supporting such events please get in touch on 01386 751740 or [email protected] Our team can provide you with invaluable Ramadan HR Support.

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