The Holy month of Ramadan is one of the most important times of year in the Islamic calendar – so if we’re not Muslim ourselves, how can we respect and celebrate this period of time with our Muslim colleagues?
This year’s Ramadan starts on Thursday 23rd March. During this time most Muslims will fast between dawn and sunset every day for a month. Employers offering flexibility during this period will, in turn, be extending their understanding of what Ramadan means to Muslims.
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Consider adjusting working patterns
According to leading HR magazine, Personnel Today, one of the most helpful things an employer can do for Muslim employees during Ramadan is providing flexibility to adjust work patterns. Offering fasting colleagues, the opportunity to start and finish work earlier will be gratefully received.
Remember, employees may be waking up earlier, or staying up later in order to eat. It is very likely people won’t enjoy being around food during the day when they are fasting – well, who would find that easy, let’s face it. This has prompted many organisations to issue polite requests to all colleagues to be mindful about eating at desks as colleagues commit to fasting times. Respecting the challenges of fasting might mean showing your own support by snacking on the elevensies in the canteen or outside maybe?
Another easy change is to allow people to change their lunch break times to avoid times when others are eating.
Allowing hybrid working is another way employers can support Muslim employees, as it reduces their commute and allows people to spend more time with their loved ones during this important time.
Be mindful of employees taking annual leave during Ramadan
Employers should strive to accommodate Muslim employees needing to take time off during Ramadan. Balancing fasting and working is hard and some employees may decide the fairest thing for both them and the business is to take a short break. Being sensitive to that will have a positive effect on employees’ wellbeing and show that you care about more than their daily output.
Know the best times to schedule meetings
If you do have Muslim colleagues, think carefully about the meetings you schedule. Be considerate and avoid arranging lunchtime meetings. Also try to schedule meetings in the morning – when those who have eaten before sunrise are more likely to feel their best.
Providing areas for prayer
Some workplaces already provide dedicated prayer spaces for anyone whose faith requires regular prayer, such as Salat – the five daily prayers of Islam. These take place every day, not just during Ramadan, and usually last around five to 10 minutes. If you have no designated area, employers can allocate a quiet, private room for prayers. When possible, you should allow colleagues to leave the workplace and pray at their local mosque.
Below are some resources for extra reading:
- What is Ramadan? – Muslim Hands
- Ramadan news – BBC
- Ramadan Prayer Times / Timetable for 2023 in UK
- Ramadan Timetable 2023 – Islamic Relief Worldwide
- How to Explain Ramadan to Non-Muslims – That Muslim Life
- Sharing the Joy of Ramadan with Non-Muslims – Dawah Materials
- Ramadan: An etiquette guide for non-Muslims – CNN
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