Ramadan in the Workplace – Recommendations to Employers

Today, Thursday, 23 March 2023 marks the start of Ramadan.

For one month, practising Muslims will perform at least 14 hours per day of fasting (from dawn until dusk). During this time, a practising Muslim is expected to focus on spiritual devotion and a large proportion of their day can be spent reciting prayers. Ramadan is also a time that charitable activities are encouraged.

In predominately Muslim countries, workplaces and businesses often incorporate standard procedures to ensure that those practising Ramadan are supported during this period. These procedures could be undoubtedly incorporated into the UK workplace providing a supportive and inclusive environment. One common practice is for employers to consider allowing flexible hours where business needs allow. Another consideration would be for workplaces to provide a quiet space to allow employees to take short breaks to practice prayer. This would be especially useful for employees undertaking Dhuhr (midday prayer).

Since Covid 19, many workplaces are more equipped for remote working and therefore if this is a feasible option in line with the business needs and requirements, employers should consider allowing their ‘fasting’ employees to work from home where possible. A further consideration for employers is to be mindful when organising work meetings involving an employee who is fasting such as to avoid midday when employees are likely to be undertaking Dhuhr prayers.

During Ramadan, an employee may request that their working hours are slightly altered, either to start later or to finish earlier. This may be due to staying up late in the night to perform prayers and try to get some more sleep after beginning to fast just before dawn. It is recommended that employers give genuine consideration to any flexible working requests received during Ramadan and seek to accommodate such requests where they are reasonable and align with business needs.

Ramadan is likely to conclude on or around 21 April 2023, however this is dependent on the lunar cycle and where an individual is geographically located in the world. At the end of Ramadan, it is the festival of Eid. Therefore, employees may wish to take a period of annual leave on or around this time. Employers should be mindful of this and where possible accommodate leave to be taken if requested.

Finally, we wish everyone a Ramadan Mubarak!

Should you require further information relating to the issues outlined in this article, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Collier, Partner & Head of Employment Law on 01204 527777 or scollier@kbl.co.uk.

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