How to navigate Ramadan: A guide for employers

Ramadan is just around the corner – a time when the primary focus for Muslims is on cultivating greater spirituality and self-discipline. Even so, the daily grind doesn’t stop.

As an employer, it’s key to understand what some of your employees might be experiencing during this period to better provide an inclusive, supportive, and healthy working environment. Against the backdrop of a government resignation over bullying, it’s helpful to do everything you can to ensure your workplace is understanding and inclusive.

In 2023, Ramadan begins on the 22nd/23rd March and will end on the 21st/22nd of April. As the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the exact start and end date will not typically be known until the night before.

Fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset during which no food or drink is consumed. The timings of sunrise and sunset change a little each day, which means the fast gets a little longer every day. Aside from abstaining from food and drink, Muslims are encouraged to partake in extra prayers, devotion, and late-night worship.

To help employers understand the experiences of their Muslim workforce during this sacred period, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips and information.

1. Reach out to employees with a Ramadan message

Some employees may not feel comfortable broaching the subject and may feel like they aren’t allowed to ask for any adjustments. It would be best practice to  send out a general message to all employees and ask whether anyone will be observing Ramadan and whether they would like to discuss any potential adjustments with their line manager. 

Make it clear to employees that these kinds of adjustments are acceptable within your company, helping them feel comfortable about addressing their upcoming workload, expectations, and any accommodations they may need. 

By opening this line of communication, employees will feel more comfortable bringing up their needs around religious days and holidays, creating an open-minded and inclusive workplace.

2. Be flexible 

Think about where you can be flexible with fasting employees. Creating a flexible schedule during this time will go a long way towards cultivating greater enthusiasm and a positive attitude in the workplace. Scheduling can vary depending on projects, responsibilities, and job role, but some things to consider include flexible start and end times or remote working where possible. 

Commuting or waking up early can be extra draining for those fasting, so offering hybrid working or flexi-time can be incredibly supportive. 

Each individual will have their own preferences as to what works best for them, so work with them to find a solution that will accommodate their needs. 

Did You Know?

65% of Muslims felt that their place of work was supportive during the month of Ramadan

3. Avoid additional responsibilities for fasting employees

We recommend that you avoid asking fasting employees to take on additional work, such as overtime, as it can become taxing. Of course, if they request to take it on it’s fine, but in some cases employees may find it difficult to turn down an overtime request or an extra project. 

4. Avoid scheduling late afternoon meetings

As mental energy can deplete throughout the day, it’s best to avoid scheduling meetings for the late afternoon, as mental energy can deplete throughout the day. Is anyone really fully mentally present during these on the best of days?

5. Provide a space for prayer or rest during lunch 

Did you know that Muslims are required to pray everyday? Some of your Muslim employees may choose to pray at home or they may already have a space to pray at the workplace. Keep in mind that some Muslims will choose to be more devout during Ramadan, and may want a dedicated area to pray. 

Plus, an area to rest or nap during lunchtimes can provide employees with a much-needed refresh during a working day.

6. Understand that fasting employees may be less social or talkative 

Most Muslims will wake up before sunrise to have a meal before they begin the fast for the day. Coupled with late-night prayers or meals, this can mean fasting individuals will often get less sleep than normal. 

So, don’t be offended if you notice that a fasting employee is partaking in fewer social events or is less talkative. 

7. Accommodate last-minute annual leave requests 

As Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar, some people won’t be able to accurately request annual leave to celebrate the end of Ramadan, a festival known as Eid. Eid is an incredibly important day for Muslims – think of it as the Islamic equivalent to Christmas. 

Thanks to the pesky moon, be open to accepting last-minute requests, or speak to your employee(s) about which days they might need off. Keeping the lines of communication open will help to avoid any misunderstandings. 

What else should I know? 

While Ramadan may seem incredibly taxing, for many Muslims it’s a month they look forward to. From get-togethers to reigniting yearly family traditions, this month brings families, friends, and communities together. Supporting your fasting employees is key to providing a healthy, happy, and inclusive workplace culture. 

It’s also important to point out that some Muslims may not be fasting during this month for various reasons, including health issues, pregnancy, or their menstrual cycle. Refrain from questioning why someone may not be fasting as this could be a sensitive topic for them. 

That being said, if you’re curious about Ramadan, most people will be happy to answer respectful questions and share their experiences on what can potentially be a largely misunderstood topic. 

Happy Ramadan to all of our readers who are observing this month!

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.