Employers have been issued with guidelines to help them during the month of Ramadan.
Those companies with staff who will be observing the holy month of fasting have been given top tips on dealing with such religious obligations.
The guidance includes:
- Accommodating flexible working hours/shift patterns
- Considering exchanging a lunch break for prayer breaks
- Accommodating requests to work from home where this is not already happening because of lockdown
- Considering annual leave requests
- Providing prayer facilities
London-based organisation MEND – Muslim Engagement & Development – compiled the guidance.
It includes recent research from the Muslim Census which surveyed over 500 people about their experiences at work and what they need to meet their religious responsibilities.
MEND said Muslims ranked flexible shift patterns as a top priority during the month of Ramadan.
It said: “The Employment Rights Act 1996 states that every employee has the statutory right to ask to work flexibly after 26 week’s employment service. It is preferable that pre-agreed arrangements are made between the employer and Muslim employee with regards to flexible shift patterns in the month of Ramadan.”
People may prefer to start later and finish later or they may prefer to start earlier and finish earlier, it said.
MEND added: “Muslims pray five times a day, and two of these prayers will fall in the normal working day. Given that Muslims will not be having their lunches, they may request alternative arrangements to ensure that they can perform all of their prayers.
“Employers may expect Muslim employees to spread their break entitlements throughout the day to smaller 5 to 10 minutes breaks. Employers may consider dedicating a prayer room on the premises to reduce the amount of time employees need to be away from work.
“Muslims will be fasting up to 16 hours a day. As an employer, you may thus find that employees have different levels of productivity throughout the day, and this needs to be managed appropriately.”
It urged bosses to try to avoid making Muslim members of staff work later than usual.
And it said to expect requests for annual leave during the holy month.
MEND explained: “The last 10 days of Ramadan are considered most sacred. Ramadan, Muslims generally perform night prayers but during the last 10 days, they may worship more at night and use the day to rest.
“Since there are no public holidays in the UK for non-Christian days, employers should be prepared for their Muslim employees to request annual leave. It is important that employers act reasonably and ensure that employees, of faith or no faith, are not at a disadvantage.”
In the Muslim Census survey 2021, 65 per cent of respondents said their place of work was supportive during Ramadan but women were far less comfortable in asking for such support than men.
Muslims who felt their employers accommodated requests during Ramadan were twice as likely to stay with the company for five years or more.
See the full guidance for employers here