Supporting employees during Ramadan: Starting Wednesday 22nd March

Next week see’s the start of Ramadan which is one of the most important and spiritual months within the Islamic calendar and is usually observed by fasting during daylight hours. It is also recognised through prayer, participating in charitable activities and spending time with friends or family. As Ramadan draws to a close, the festival of Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of any fasting that has taken place. Here, James Richardson, senior HR & employment law consultant at FD People provides some guidance on what employers can do to support employees during this significant period of observing Ramadan. 

Recognising the significance of Ramadan and being mindful of the potential impact on members of your team is essential to building a healthy and inclusive workplace. A proactive approach helps ensure individuals are not placed at a detriment due to their religious beliefs, but also seeks to actively accommodate and support those expressing their faith. Here are some suggestions on how you can support Muslim employees at work during Ramadan.

Encourage open communication

Remember individuals may celebrate or practice their faith in a variety of ways, and not all will be able to fast. To ensure any steps you take are relevant, provide opportunities to connect with individuals to enable them to express their opinions. You may find that no specific support is needed other than showing due consideration and understanding, or there may be suggestions which hadn’t initially been thought of. Don’t make assumptions and instead invite employees to share their views through surveys, email or intranet suggestions and voluntary groups, but always ensure any such opportunities to engage are facilitated in a safe and inclusive manner.

Utilise flexible working

Being open to hybrid/remote working and thinking about how people can work flexibly can be a huge benefit to employees when it comes to support during Ramadan. Whilst this shouldn’t be enforced without discussion and must be balanced with the needs of the business, embracing hybrid working with flexibility over start and/or finish times, working patterns and breaks can be helpful in supporting employees to manage religious commitments. The opportunity may allow for work to be completed more efficiently and at times which suit energy levels whilst fasting.

Raise awareness by educating the wider team

Other members of the team may be curious to know more about key religious days and festivals, and specifically how they can support their colleagues observing Ramadan. You can support further by providing access to relevant resources, offering tips on how to be considerate towards the needs of Muslim colleagues and organising inclusive ways to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr.

For those who are fasting, it may be helpful to encourage the wider team, especially management, to monitor workloads and overtime carefully. In addition, be mindful of offering food to anybody who is fasting and seek to avoid centring work activities around eating and drinking. It can also be helpful to schedule important tasks or meetings earlier in the day, as those fasting may find their energy reserves dip as the day goes on.

Consider annual leave and plan ahead

Take the opportunity to regularly remind employees of their annual leave entitlement and try to encourage forward planning for spending time with friends and family. It can be helpful to take Ramadan and Eid into account of for workforce planning purposes as many employees may be looking for similar time off work. You should be mindful that due to these important dates following lunar cycles, it may be challenging to request a specific day for annual leave. This can be supported through open communication with individuals and a flexible attitude wherever possible.