What is Ramadan and how can it impact your employees?
Ramadan is a Holy month in Islam in which many Muslims around the globe fast for 29-30 days depending on moon sighting. When fasting, they cannot eat or drink till sunset. It can be challenging when the days are long and people do face some serious caffeine withdrawals and sleep deprivation, however there are some benefits to it too.
Benefits of fasting - religious and scientific
The reason why Muslims fast in this month is because it is a pillar of faith. It is believed that fasting is a way of repentance and a way to gain closeness to God. Many Muslims also believe that through fasting you empathise with those that are less fortunate.
It’s also been argued that there are some health benefits to fasting which you can find on Healthline.
Now that we’ve discussed why Muslims fast and some of the benefits of it, let’s talk about the main purpose of this blog - which is to educate and inform businesses on factors they need to be aware of to help workplaces become more inclusive. There are 3.7 million Muslims living in the UK.
Accommodating a prayer room in your offices
Ramadan is a month of spiritual cleansing; fasting is just one of the ways in which you do this. Other ways include praying, abstinence and refraining from vices, such as smoking. Muslim employees may want to offer their afternoon prayers whilst in the office, therefore managers and HR teams should be aware of this and make arrangements.
Flexibility during Ramadan
Every individual is different, and every body reacts differently when fasting. Most Muslims would agree that the first few days are the most challenging and then when you get into the rhythm of it, the month goes fine - but there will be a few “off days”. Hunger and lethargy can make fasting difficult from time to time.
- Some individuals may find mornings to be better, and because they don’t take a lunch break, they may wish to sign off early during this month.
- Some individuals may be the complete opposite. As they stay up till 4am to eat, they might prefer to start working later and finish later.
- Depending on how they felt they’ve performed during the day, some employees may choose to continue working after they have broken their fast.
Employees fasting in Ramadan should have open and honest conversations with their managers and colleagues about how they like to work during this month. Similarly, line managers should try to have these conversations with reports ahead of time. The key is to be prepared and empathetic – as each day may be different!
When is Eid?
The answer to the question is “I don’t know yet!”
The date of Eid depends on a few things: when the moon is sighted, and the sect or mosque the employee follows. For this reason, some Muslim employees may need to book leave pretty last minute, or may tell you they could be off on a few different days.
Common questions about Ramadan
- Can you eat in front of your Muslim colleague?
You may feel awkward eating around a Muslim colleague and you may think you’re being disrespectful. Rest assured, it doesn’t need to be the case. Most Muslims are used to this as their own children or other family may be eating as well.
- Are you allowed water?
No – food, drink, chewing gum and water aren’t allowed.
- Are you allowed medication?
If you are on unwell and on regular medication, then you are exempt from fasting. You need to be medically fit to fast.
- Is it offensive to offer best wishes to someone for Ramadan?
No – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. “Happy Ramadan”, “Ramadan Kareem” and “Ramadan Mubarak” are ways in which you can wish someone well during Ramadan.
We hope this has been insightful to you and you have learnt ways in which you can support your Muslims colleagues better. Please don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues any questions about Ramadan - most will be quite happy to answer your questions as it shows concern and curiosity. You can find out more about Ramadan here.
Share this article