The period of Ramadan, a key time for Muslims, started yesterday (Thursday 17 May) and will run until Friday 15 June.
Employment advice specialist Acas has published the following workplace considerations for employers and staff during Ramadan.
- Observing Ramadan may be noticeable (for example not eating at lunchtime) and so it is often sensible for employees to inform their managers of the fact they are fasting.
- Fasting may affect people in different ways (for example some people may understandably become a little irritable or slightly tired at times) and some understanding from managers and colleagues can be helpful.
- The effects of fasting may be felt most strongly in the afternoon so it can help to use the morning for meetings and intellectually challenging work, and perform routine tasks later. Also when Ramadan falls in the summer months it can be particularly challenging as the days are longer.
- Although breaks should be kept, a shorter lunch may make it easier for an employee to manage their workload if they wish to take time off to carry out additional prayer or worship.
- Colleagues may want to avoid offering food and drink to those who fast if sharing food with other colleagues, or eating during meetings.
- It can be helpful to avoid events etc that ALL staff must attend during Ramadan as people may be fasting.
- In certain years, a considerable portion of annual leave may be used by employees wishing to observe the Ramadan rules. Where the leave timings can be accommodated, it is also important to ensure an employee has adequate leave days available for these needs.
- Awareness and understanding of Ramadan and other religious festivals can be aided by posting information on staff notice boards or newsletters etc.
- Ramadan may offer an opportunity for closer team relations and teamwork – for example by avoiding cakes / biscuits during a team meeting.
NHS Choices also publishes health information for residents with long-term health conditions (including diabetes) who may want to fast during Ramadan.