What can employers do to support employees who are observing Ramadan?
During the month of Ramadan, many Muslims will fast each day between sunrise and sunset, and perform additional prayers and other religious duties. Employers should be aware of the potential effects on employees of not eating or drinking during the day, combined with a change to sleep patterns, and should consider taking steps to support them.
Employers should not assume that all Muslim employees will be observing Ramadan in the same way, or that those who are fasting will want the employer to make special arrangements for them. Employers could encourage all employees to discuss with them any impact that they think fasting could have on their work, and any measures that could be helpful.
Steps that employers could consider to support employees who are observing Ramadan include:
- arranging shifts to accommodate employees' preferences where possible, for example so that the employee can be at home to break the fast at sunset;
- accommodating requests for annual leave;
- making colleagues aware that it is Ramadan and encouraging them to be supportive of their fasting colleagues, in particular by not offering them food or drink;
- not scheduling work-related social events during Ramadan;
- not expecting fasting employees to meet with clients over lunch;
- enabling employees to arrange their working days to allow for lower energy and concentration levels in the afternoon, for example by scheduling important meetings or work involving operating machinery in the morning, and tasks that are less physically or mentally demanding later in the day; and
- allowing flexible working, for example an earlier start time, a short lunch break or extra breaks for prayer.