Ramadan is a holy month in Islam in which Muslims fast from dawn until sunset for a period of 29 or 30 days. It is one of the most spiritual times of the year for Muslims and is one of the five pillars of Islam.

While fasting, Muslims avoid eating and drinking as well as smoking, sexual activity, unkind or impure thoughts and words and immoral behaviour. They may also spend time in prayers and engage in charitable events.

Given that Ramadan can be challenging for employees in balancing work with fasting, to encourage a more inclusive environment, employers may find the following guidance useful:

  • Be aware of the month and educate managers and colleagues about it.
  • Encourage line managers to discuss an individual employees’s needs and concerns, so that both the employee and the organisation are prepared for the month ahead.
  • Be conscious of the fact that if someone is Muslim, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are fasting. Fasting is only observed by Muslims who can. Mental or physical ill-health, travelling, menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeding all exempt Muslims from fasting.
  • Encourage flexible working by putting in place temporary arrangements such as altering working patterns and changing times of lunch breaks.
  • Allow employees to take advantage of any hybrid working arrangements.
  • Provide a designated prayer space in the workplace during the month, and allow employees quick breaks during the day so that they can pray.
  • Avoid food related work social events during the day when Muslim employees will be fasting.

Be prepared for last-minute annual leave requests for Eid, which is a day that Muslims celebrate and marks the end of Ramadan. Often employees will only be aware of the exact date that Eid will fall, a day before, as it is dependent on the first sighting of the new moon. Although there is no automatic right to allow time off work for religious celebrations, requests can be handled more sensitively.

If you require any further advice on this topic, please contact a member of the employment team.

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Published: 8th March 2024
Area: Employment

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