Guidance for managers and staff for supporting Muslim staff during Ramadan 2023.
Diversity and Inclusion
Religion and Belief is a protected characteristic of the Equality Act 2010, which means that festivals like Ramadan, as well as Easter, Yom Kippur, Vaisakhi and Diwali, and the other religious days and periods, give us an opportunity not just to support those who observe them, but also to learn and understand more about the people we work with and serve.
Fasting, in one form or another, has always been important and often necessary part of religious life, discipline and experience in every faith. Many of the key fasting considerations transfer to all primary faiths and practices including Christianity and the sacrifices of ‘Lent’ Judaism and fasting during Yom Kippur and Tish’ah B’av.
Frequently asked questions on Ramadan
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar year and is the month of fasting. Fasting is a duty upon all adults and healthy Muslims. In the UK this year Ramadan will start on the 23rd March. This means that no water or food is to be consumed from sunrise to sunset. People that are ill, those that are travelling long distance, pregnant and breast feeding women may be exempt.
One of the main benefits of Ramadan is an increased awareness of God. It is an opportunity for self-purification and reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality; and for compassion for those in need of the necessities of life. Muslims also appreciate the feeling of togetherness shared by family and friends throughout the month. Perhaps the greatest practical benefit is the yearly lesson in self- restraint and discipline that can carry forward to other aspects of a Muslim’s life such as work and education.
Working and Ramadan
Working has a great importance and value in Islam. The importance of lawful earnings is emphasised by numerous instructions of God in the Quran to earn a living through lawful means.
The Prophet Mohammed taught Muslims that one needs to be balanced and harmonised between their worship and work. Muslims have to remain constant in acts of worship, and also to work hard to earn a living and support their families. Prophet Mohammed made it clear that being in a position to purchase day to day provisions from one’s own work is actually a commendable act of worship.
Ramadan should not be used as an excuse for not working to one’s usual level of commitment and productivity and it is important to remember one’s obligations to employers.
I manage and/or work with staff that are fasting, what do I need to know?
Fasting in the summer is combined with disturbances in normal sleep pattern that can leave individuals feeling more tired than normal particularly mid-afternoon and towards the end of the day. Also, towards the latter part of the day some individuals that are fasting might feel a little light headed.
If you have Muslim staff in your department, it may be worth approaching them and allowing them to discuss their needs and the impact this may have on their working patterns.
If it is operationally feasible an agreement to requests for slight adjustments to working hours during Ramadan will be appreciated. For example, many Muslims like to be with their families for the end of the fast therefore may need some flexibility with shift arrangements to enable them to spend this time with their families. To be able to finish early they may prefer to start earlier and/or have a shorter lunch break.
It is very considerate to avoid holding events involving food such as get-togethers which may include food and drink during Ramadan. If it is unavoidable please do not be offended if Muslim staff members are unable to participate in such events. If any training day or a key meeting is unavoidable, any special arrangements for Muslim staff that are fasting will always be greatly appreciated.
It is not necessary for individuals that are not fasting to abstain from eating or drinking in the presence of Muslims that are fasting. However, during the month of Ramadan it would not be appropriate to require a Muslim staff member who is fasting to join you in taking a working lunch for example, or to offer food or drinks
To fast along with Muslim colleagues, even for part of the day, is a good way of enhancing understanding, and can be used as a wonderful way of fundraising for a charitable cause during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the month of generosity, giving charity and benevolence.
Many Muslims will endeavour to practice their faith more during Ramadan than they might for the remainder of the year. As a consequence of this more Muslim staff might wish to offer prayers during the day. This will normally be around 1:00 pm and and 4pm in the summer months for a few minutes each for which the staff member(s) will require a small private area.
How do I express best wishes to colleagues and patients?
The appropriate way to express best wishes to a Muslim colleague or Patient for Ramadan is to say: “Ramadan Mubarak”
What happens when Ramadan ends?
The end of Ramadan is marked by the festival of Eid-Ul-Fitr for which some Muslim staff members will wish to take leave from work. The actual day that Eid falls on will depend on when the new moon is sighted. For this reason it might not be possible for the staff member to be very specific about the day he/she would like to be away from work and therefore some flexibility may be necessary.
There are different schools of thought who may celebrate Eid on different days depending on which school of thought they follow. This year Eid may fall on 20th or 21st April depending on the sighting of the moon, therefore Eid can be celebrated on either days.
Please try to accommodate any requests for annual leave during this time.
The appropriate way to express best wishes to a Muslim colleague or Patient for Eid is to say:
Please contact the Diversity and Inclusion Unit for any further guidance and clarification on:
Tel: 07970 357207