Ramadan and the Workplace
Its that time of year when Ramadan is due to start again, with the holy month commencing around the 12th of April. During this period Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. This does not follow the normal Gregorian calendar and instead the dates change every year, with the starting date depending on the sighting of the new moon.
Living in a Muslim country such as the UAE means you become accustomed to the changes in rules that happen during Ramadan, as well as points to be considerate of. It is also a great time to become more culturally aware and learn why it is important for Muslims to fast during Ramadan. Adults healthy enough to do so will not eat drink or drink during daylight ours as an act of worship and to become more compassionate about those in need.
You may find yourself working from the office during Ramadan and there are some points that can be considered by both employers and employees.
Inform employees ahead of time
You may have employees which will be fasting during Ramadan so it is important to make other employees aware of this and to be considerate. You may need to make changes to the office such as where non-fasting employees can eat or drink, where fasting employees and pray and if there will be any changes to working hours as a result of the holy month.
Consider flexible working hours for employees
Working hours are normally reduced for those fasting during Ramadan out of consideration. Fasting as well as the added prayer times and late nights require a lot more exertion than normal. Working hours in government sectors are normally reduced to 9am – 2pm, however this does not always have to be followed for private businesses. Instead you could offer flexible hours to employees and ask what would best suit them. Some may be more energetic in the morning after Suhoor (A meal taken just before sunrise) and some employees may prefer to work a later shift closer to Iftar (Breaking fast after sunset).
As with working hours, meetings and events should also be carefully planned for those who are fasting. Most employees will prefer to have meetings in the morning as this is when they will be the most productive. Energy levels will tend to drop off in the afternoon after fasting for most of the day. You can always just ask what employers would prefer to be more inclusive of individuals need during Ramadan.
Ramadan is a holy month which is a time for celebration for Muslims and a chance for spiritual growth. It is also however a challenging time for those fasting, so it is important to take the above points into consideration and be more conscious in the workplace.