The month of Ramadan begins today, 13 April 2021. Unlike last Ramadan, we are thrilled that this current Ramadan will be enjoyed outside of a full lockdown! To many Muslims around the world, this is a highly anticipated month as it is considered the holiest of months in which many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Many of those who fast during Ramadan will still be working long hours, travelling, and practising their daily work/life balance, all whilst refraining from eating or drinking. In this respect, some may be feeling a little more tired and slightly less animated in conversation whilst fasting, especially towards the end of the day and as someone who will be fasting during Ramadan myself, its important to pay attention to my physical and mental health whilst going about my day-to-day duties.
Here at Thrive, we pride ourselves on ensuring that employees get their workload completed whilst still working at our own pace and timings in order to avoid burnout. This includes flexible (or as we call it smart) working in which we can work at a pace that suits us, whilst ensuring any tasks that need to be completed that day are.
As Ramadan is approaching, I can review my working hours in a bid to come to a routine that works for me whilst fasting, to ensure I remain productive and at optimal performance. Our values here at Thrive means I can approach management to discuss any reasonable adjustments that may be required during the course of this next month. It is important religious events and practices are acknowledged in the workplace whilst employers hold any conversations with employees about their religious practices, giving thought to their work/life balance. Having these important conversations with employees will make them feel valued in the workplace, but employers are also taking that next step in ensuring they are promoting smart and flexible working within their workforce whilst considering an employee’s wellbeing and any other obligations they may have.
Here are some common questions you can ask yourself when it comes to considering the impact of religion in the workplace:
- What is your policy on religious events and observations in your workplace?
If you do not have a policy that deals with religious occasions, you should consider whether one is required as well as if any existing policies could be indirectly discriminatory. On this topic, employers should ensure all relevant policies are communicated effectively to all employees but be sensitive in your approach as you can never assume someone’s religion or belief.
- Are your team outings/calls inclusive and best suited for all employees?
During the next month, should any employees be fasting, it would not be best practise to plan a team lunch or evening meal. As outings of this nature will be a team effort, ask employees what they would prefer to do, some will be okay with being in a group that are all eating but others may prefer not to be. This can also be relevant when it comes to arranging staff nights out which only involve drinking alcohol.
- Are employee’s work hours best suited to them when fasting?
Because Ramadan consists of an early breakfast (prior to sunrise) and a late dinner (following on from sunset), this can have an impact on how someone works throughout the day. It might be beneficial to discuss employees’ working hours in a bid to ensure their work-day is more productive whilst asking if any other arrangements may be required. Ensure this is all in writing. With this in mind, if you have evening or night shift workers, are you able to provide them a place to have their meals? This can be anything from a comfortable space to eat to a meal organised by your team.
- Does your business do anything to acknowledge religious occasions online?
If your business is on social media, why not show your support for those observing any religious occasion? This will promote your brand values to a wider audience and can easily be communicated by way of a newsletter etc.
Ramadan Dos & Dont’s
While non-Muslims are generally well aware of the dos and don’ts to be practised during Ramadan, here are some tips they should keep in mind.
- Wish your Muslim friends and colleagues a happy Ramadan, you can say this in Arabic by saying “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem”.
- Fast if you are interested in Ramadan, as you don’t have to be a Muslim to partake. This gives people a better understanding of what this month entails.
- Partake in Ramadan in your own way, this can be in sending a little something by way of a card, food, etc to a friend or colleague.
Try not to:
- Eat, drink or smoke in front of those fasting during fasting hours.
- Schedule certain events without consideration of timings. Meetings are fine, but work lunches may not be suitable. Employers should also try and schedule meetings in the morning, or a couple of hours before someone is set to break their fast, should they be working later. An easy way to figure out these timings is to research.
- If you a friend or a colleague is fasting, remember that they may be low on energy when fasting for a whole day, as even if you eat and hydrate yourself at night and early morning, the body will soon run out of energy during the day.
- Don’t indicate you would like to fast and partake in Ramadan to lose weight. Ramadan is not about fasting to lose weight. It’s about discipline. It’s about discipline and abstinence, whilst strengthening your relationship with God during this holy month.
One question often seen in relation to Ramadan is, what I can get someone who will be observing Ramadan this month? This is of course dependent on the individual and their preferences. However, sending something small such as a basket of fruit or a box of dates is always gratefully received. Dates are a fruit that Muslims often break their fast on (usually with milk) at sunset. This is common tradition dating back to the Prophet’s time, as it allows the stomach to adjust prior to having a much-anticipated meal.
One company I have come across that I have been using to send Ramadan parcels out this month is The Date Project. This service sends out medjool dates all wrapped up whilst ensuring proceeds from each purchase go to charity. This is a simple act of kindness that not only minimises the spread of COVID-19 but it’s perfect for both Ramadan and Eid.
Ramadan Kareem to those observing, from all of us here at Thrive.
If you need any advice on working from home or your employment status during the COVID-19 outbreak, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Uthman El-Dharrat