Ramadan 2015: Advice for Employers
Date: 19th June 2015 | By: Claire Malley | Categories: Employment law
As Ramadan began yesterday, we thought it would be useful to offer advice to employers on how best to support and assist employees during this period.
1. Show tolerance on reduced levels of work
Ramadan this year falls during the summer months, and as Ramadan involves fasting between sunrise and sunset, at this time of the year it means no food or water for most of the hours of the day. This can result in tiredness and perhaps less productivity.
Managers should take this into account, and not criticize staff during the period of fasting. Not only could this demonstrates a lack of support to the staff and damage relations with employees, but could also be seen as direct discrimination and harassment and result in a costly tribunal claim against a company.
2. Keep a diary of all major religious festival dates
Most UK businesses will have Christmas off as annual leave in any event, but has the Company planned for several requests for Eid, or the Chinese new year, or other festivals which may result in several people wanting the same time off work? It may be impractical to grant all requests, however if you plan for staff to be off during these times, then Companies will be able to accommodate more than if they remain ignorant of the dates.
3. Consider what work needs to be completed, and how it is completed
Is it necessary that business trips are required during certain times? This could result in employees, particularly those who are fasting, either being unable to eat at the appropriate time, or being too tired to work due to the additional strain of working away from home. It could be worth planning ahead and making sure that business trips, meetings, training etcetera do not coincide with religious festivals or periods of fasting. There may be a conflict over attendance at the event, or tiredness as a repercussion of attending. By planning ahead this can be reduced or avoided in the majority of situations.
4. Communication is King
Speaking to staff about Ramadan, or any religious festival, and showing your support and offering assistance can help integrate people into the business and make them feel welcome and part of the team. It also allows those without much knowledge of other religions to learn more, and so when Ramadan takes place, or any festival is forthcoming, a business can learn how to assist employees during that time, which should result in a happier, more productive workforce. It also avoids the build-up of animosity that can sometimes arise through a lack of understanding about the events, which can lead to conflict between the Company and employee.