Ramadan is the month-long Islamic holiday celebrated every year. In 2019, Ramadan will last from Sunday 5th May until Tuesday 4th June.
During this time many Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset. Their fast includes food and water, as well as cigarettes and other forms of tobacco (and even chewing gum).
People typically break their fast with friends and family after sunset and wake up early before sunrise to eat a meal before beginning another day fasting. The holy month of Ramadan is also a time to avoid gossip and instead reflect on your blessings.
As you can imagine this religious holiday can be challenging for many people which is why it’s important to support Muslim employees during this time. Here are just six things that you can do to show that you care.
Be open to annual leave requests
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, as a result, employees may need to submit annual leave applications at short notice as there is often uncertainty around dates. Employers should try and accommodate requests as much as possible and ensure they are not rejecting them just because it is a busy period or because other employees are off.
Understand reduced productivity
If your employee is not eating or drinking throughout the workday it’s safe to presume that their productivity levels are going to vary slightly, particularly in the afternoon. Managers should be aware of this and not over criticise an employee whose productivity has suffered because he or she is fasting.
Consider flexible working
Employers should consider allowing Muslim employees to work different hours during the month of Ramadan. For example, some employees may wish to start work earlier or work through their lunch break so they can leave work earlier in order to break their fast at home. Perhaps you could even promote remote working so employees do not have to face lengthy commutes.
Be mindful of office guests
When welcoming someone into your office for a meeting always be mindful that they might be observing Ramadan. On arrival, ask them if they want a drink. If they decline, there is no need for you to keep offering them tea and biscuits.
If you bring food and drink out onto the office floor, do not place it right next to the desk of someone that is fasting. Likewise, the month of Ramadan is probably not a good time to have a staff pizza party or pot luck. The vast majority of Muslims won’t mind but it’s nice to be polite.
Do not ask an employee why they are not fasting
Deciding whether or not to fast is an individual decision. Some people may choose not to partake due to medical reasons or perhaps they may practice their faith in other ways. An individual’s reasoning for not fasting is not for public consumption unless they choose to share that information.