27 Apr Support for Staff Doing Ramadan During Lockdown
As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan has arrived, we look at ways employers can support their employees during this time.
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, where the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon Him. In this month Muslims will be fasting from sunrise to sunset praying to become closer to God. Abstaining from food, water and other pleasures for 30 days ending with the celebration of Eid Ul Fitr. Muslims will be dedicating their days and nights to acts of heightened devotion, worship and self-reflection.
This will inevitably have an impact on their work, as their daily routines will be disrupted. With COVID-19 many employees are currently working from home or have been furloughed, therefore the dynamics of work have changed for many. However, employers still need to try to accommodate and support their Muslim colleagues as much as they can, even in these testing times.
Understanding the Workplace Impact of Ramadan
With Ramadan falling in summer in the UK, the days will be longer, meaning that Muslims will be fasting for around 15 hours a day. This will naturally have an impact on their productivity, as their meals and sleep pattern are affected. If operational targets are the norm, consider amending these or extending deadlines. This will ease the pressure and lighten the potential stress associated with their usual workload. When setting important meetings try and schedule these for a time that is appropriate for your colleagues’ timetable. Alternatively, consider whether your colleague needs to be part of the meeting or whether they can be updated via email.
Working Pattern Flexibility
During COVID-19, many employees are working from home, which will impact the way that Muslims engage in Ramadan during this period. However, some will still be expected to work set hours (e.g. 9-5) from home. Many Muslims will be up during the night throughout Ramadan, as well as having to wake up in the early hours before sunrise in order to eat and close their fast. If possible, offer flexible working hours where colleagues can work during the hours they are most productive and energised. If you are still expected to go into your place of work, perhaps consider offering working from home as an option for those partaking in Ramadan.
Annual Leave Requests
Many that are fasting will submit holiday requests in this month, whether it is to take time off to dedicate themselves to worship or for them to celebrate the end of fasting known as Eid Ul Fitr. While it isn’t a legal obligation to honour these requests, refusing requests for religious reasons can be viewed as discriminatory therefore alternative arrangements should be discussed. It should also be taken into consideration that a lot of Christian holidays are also bank holidays in the UK, therefore it may be desirable to prioritise holiday requests from Muslims during this significant religious period. Managers should be understanding to the fact that they may also receive a lot of requests at short notice, due to the uncertainty of celebratory dates, as the Islamic calendar follows the lunar calendar.
Ramadan comes every year, therefore it may be favourable for companies to have a religious observance policy in place for all employees. This will give employees and managers clear guidance and help to manage expectations regarding religious holidays. For example, arrangements could be made for employees to hand over certain tasks to their colleagues during religious holidays, which could be done well in advance of religious holiday periods. If this is not possible then senior leaders should discuss options and considerations with employees as soon as possible. In order to avoid any claims of discrimination, all religious practices / celebrations will need to be taken into consideration and accommodated where possible.
For all those that are observing fasts, Happy Ramadan to you and your family! From everyone at The Equal Group.
The first step to tackling EDI issues in the workplace is awareness of each problem and how it affects the working environment. The next step is implementing an effective EDI strategy. A well-considered EDI strategy will ensure that your organisation has a robust approach to ensuring that all members of staff feel included in what the organisation is doing and the company’s direction of travel.
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Author: Sohaila Kulsoom