Ramadan – considerations for employers
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on 22 March 2023 and will end 29 or 30 days later. During Ramadan, adult Muslims observe a fast between dawn and dusk. Exceptions are made for those who are pregnant, menstruating or in poor health.
There is no automatic right to time off in England & Wales for religious observances. Subject to any agreement you might reach with your staff they would be expected to come to work as usual during Ramadan (and, indeed, during Eid al-Fitr which follows it).
There are several points which employers should consider when looking to support Muslim employees during Ramadan:
- Awareness is important. You should make sure that employees are aware of the timing of Ramadan and, potentially, provide information to educate your employees on what it means for Muslims. It is also important to make it clear that discrimination or harassment on grounds of religion will not be tolerated.
- You have an obligation to support the wellbeing of your employees. Fasting may leave employees fatigued, with reduced concentration and energy levels. Consider what adjustments you might be able to put in place to help your employees with this. For example, you could replace a lunch hour with several smaller breaks. You could avoid scheduling long meetings where concentration might be an issue. You may agree to allow employees to move their working day earlier so that they start work soon after sunrise and will have the benefit of having just eaten.
- Do not assume that all Muslim employees will need adjustments or that they will be observing Ramadan. There are specific exceptions for menstruation, pregnancy and ill health. Muslim employees who are not observing Ramadan for one of these reasons may not wish to discuss such personal issues. For this reason, businesses may decide to make it clear that support is available but ask employees to approach them to discuss it.
- You should consider the appropriateness of holding social events focused on eating or drinking during the month of Ramadan. You want to make sure that employees do not feel excluded.
If you communicate openly and supportively with your employees then you should be able to work with them to make sure that they feel supported during Ramadan whilst also making sure that they continue to operate effectively at work.
Adrian Fryer, Partner & Head of Employment
t: 0151 224 0539