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As an inclusive employer, it is important that you have policies and practices in place to support Muslims at work during Ramadan. This blog explains more about what Ramadan is and provides expert advice on how to support Muslims at work as they observe this act of faith.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It is considered one of the most spiritual times of the year and signifies the time during which the Qur’an was revealed.

It recognises one of the 5 pillars of Islam (the five tenets that uphold Islamic belief in practice) that practising Muslims observe: fasting. It is important to be aware that not all Muslims will be in a position to fast.

People with physical or mental ill-health, those menstruating or travelling are not expected to fast but they are just as valid in their expression of faith. They are still able to take part in observing Ramadan spiritually, through prayer, charity and community connection.

Why do Muslims observe fasting during Ramadan?

Fasting is not just the act of refraining from food and drink (yes, even water), it is a spiritual cleansing. It’s a time of introspection, a focused exertion on patience and prayer, a stillness of the mind to quell the desires of the body and feed the soul. Throughout the world, millions of Muslims will observe fasting during the month of Ramadan, and this will impact many Muslims at work.

Many Muslims find Ramadan is a time where their usual spiritual practice increases, whilst other Muslims find Ramadan is a time to connect more with their faith than they do at other times of the year. This is part of each individual’s own journey that employers should be sensitive to.

When is Ramadan this year?

This year, Ramadan is predicted to start on 10th March 2024. The date is predicted, and subject to change, because the Islamic calendar is lunar and follows the phases of the moon. New months begin with the first crescent of a new moon, and the day begins after sunset. This makes the Islamic calendar shorter than the Gregorian calendar by 10 to 11 days, so Islamic months travel throughout the seasons.

Ramadan lasts between 29-30 days and this year is predicted to end on Monday 8th April. Fasting Muslims will refrain from food and water from sunrise to sunset throughout this time. This means during the longer Spring/Summer days this could range from 12-18 hours depending on where you live.

How to support Muslims at work during Ramadan

Remember that different people will be celebrating Ramadan in various ways, understanding this is also an important part of how you’re supporting Muslims at work during this time.

Supporting Muslims at work goes beyond thinking about what to say to someone fasting for Ramadan, it’s about showing an understanding and considering how you can support them during this time.

Here are some ways for supporting Muslims at work during Ramadan:

Be flexible with working arrangements and time off for Ramadan

Options for flexible working and time off are key to supporting Muslims at work. Fasting will likely have an impact on energy levels, coupled with longer nights spent in community and worship. Colleagues can be supported with more frequent rest breaks and more inclusive meeting hours.

This could include earlier starts and earlier finishes, forgoing lunch breaks for an earlier finish and having meetings during more core working hours.

The last ten days of Ramadan are considered the most sacred of the month and so requests for leave should take this into consideration. Whilst flexible working and time off are wonderful inclusive options, this should be a choice for employees and shouldn’t be applied as an expectation.

Discuss with your employees how to help them

As a group, Muslims are not a monolith. Everyone will have a different relationship and approach to their faith. Be mindful not to assume your employees needs, cultivate meaningful connections with your employees and provide opportunities where they can openly and safely discuss their needs with you.

Be prepared for annual leave requests for Eid celebrations

Recognising that the Islamic calendar is lunar allows employers to make space for supporting Muslims at work. Employers can understand that Muslims won’t know the exact date upon which Eid will fall (as this depends on the sighting of the new moon). Eid is the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, you can learn more about it on our Eid al Fitr awareness day page.

This means many people may need to request time off at relatively short notice and others may request a range of 2-3 days off to make sure they will be off work at the right time.

For more flexible working arrangements, where organisational needs and service delivery permits allow, employees could provisionally book a range 2-3 days off and then work the days outside of where Eid lands. A pragmatic approach and open dialogue with employees is the best way forward.

Raise Ramadan awareness in the workplace

Members of your team may be wondering how to wish their colleagues a happy Ramadan. Incorporate awareness raising into your plans for supporting Muslims at work, so that your entire team can recognise the time and learn more about it. You can learn more about this by visiting our Ramadan awareness day page.

Awareness is a building block for an inclusive workplace. Raising awareness of what Ramadan is and making space for the importance of it and its impact on Muslim colleagues during this time is a great way to build positive team connections.

There are many options that can be explored to raise awareness and celebrate diversity and inclusion during Ramadan. You may want to provide platforms for Muslim voices to share their Ramadan experiences if they wish, you could host fun engagement sessions using our Ramadan Quiz to test your colleagues knowledge of Ramadan.

Ramadan factsheet and quiz

This factsheet provides an overview, context, and awareness raising for employers to make sure they are supporting Muslims at work during this important holy month.

Ramadan Factsheet
A Muslim woman wearing the headscarf is praying in her head office's prayer room. She is raising her hands in Dua, which means she's invoking Allah. Her hands are turned upwards and cupping the air.

Understanding how to celebrate Eid at work

Muslims are a beautifully vast and diverse group, made up of a spectrum of cultural heritages, ethnicities and experiences.

A great way to celebrate Eid at work is recognising the diversity of the Muslim population and celebrating this through food and gatherings.

Organising an Eid meal for people to join in the celebrations as a team, or host an Eid lunch at the office (or virtually!) for everyone to share. Remember to honour the diversity of the population in the cuisine!

Supporting Muslims at work with Inclusive Employers

For a healthy, inclusive cultures to thrive, employers should understand how they can support Muslims at work who are fasting during the month.

During this sacred and reflective time those observing Ramadan may not be inclined to attend social activities or events that are scheduled for the evening. It’s important for employers to take an inclusive and proactive stance towards this if employees don’t wish to take part in such activities.

Whilst it’s important that employees be able to excuse themselves, care should also be taken that this does not result in them suffering a disadvantage in the workplace and missing out on opportunities that equate to levels of exclusion.

Inclusive Employers can provide advice that is tailored to your organisation and enables you to support Muslims at work most effectively. If you are a Member and would like more support, please get in touch with your account manager. If you are not yet a member you can learn more about our membership here or speak to us by filling out the form below.

Grow your team

When you become an Inclusive Employers’ Member you grow your I&D team.

Your account manager works with you to understand your goals, your challenges and achievable next steps.

Do you need more support for your inclusive culture to thrive?

Learn about membership today

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