5 steps to support employees observing Ramadan

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Gateley Legal

As we near the end of Ramadan many employees will have been fasting for the last four weeks.

Muslims will fast from dawn to sunset to observe the holy month of the Islamic calendar which this year ends on 1 May 2022.

It is a challenging period for many and may have an impact on an individual’s ability to perform their work.

It is important that employers are aware of the potential impact in the workplace and provide support to employees if they require it.

Here we set out five practical ways in that support can be provided.

  1. Flexible working arrangements  Requests to temporarily vary hours of work or the place of work should be considered. Adjustments to start and finish times may help considerably. As may avoiding commuting by working from home. This will be particularly relevant as many employees are still working from home or have a hybrid work pattern between home and the office following the pandemic. An employee who requests to work from home on more days during the month of fasting should where possible be granted permission.
  2. Annual leave requests Employees who request to take annual leave to assist them to observe fasting during Ramadan should be allowed to do so wherever possible. Similarly if an employee requests unpaid time off this should also be given consideration.
  3. Requesting breaks/time to pray Ideally employers will already have appropriate facilities and a quiet location which employees can use for prayer. If a designated space is not possible requests for breaks in order that employees can still carry out prayers should be dealt with in a sensitive manner.
  4. Communication It is important to ensure that employees are given support through clear communications that demonstrate understanding. Some employers will have in place policies supporting employees observing religious beliefs. However care will be needed to ensure that these are applied in a fair and consistent manner across all religions.
  5. Harassment It will be important for every employer to raise awareness amongst staff of the importance of treating colleagues and others in the workplace with dignity and respect. There should be a zero-tolerance attitude towards harassment on grounds of religion and this should be enforced through prompt disciplinary action.

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