Access guidance to support your workforce during Ramadan

Ramadan is began on 10 March 2024. Read our guidance to help both managers and staff during this religious period of fasting.

28 February 2024

Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide. It lasts for a period of 29 or 30 days and culminates with the first day of Eid likely to fall on the 9 April. Exact dates are subject to sightings of the moon.

Traditionally Ramadan is a time for communal prayer, spiritual reflection, meals with extended family and friends to break daily fasts, concluding with the community celebration of Eid-Ul-Fitr.  


Many NHS staff who are Muslim will participate in a daily period of fasting, starting at dawn and finishing at sunset over the month. This means abstaining from food, drink (including water) and smoking. While the fast is an important part of Ramadan, it is also a time of self-reflection, self-evaluation, increasing worship and charitable deeds. 

Not all Muslims will observe the fast in Ramadan, either out of choice or because they are religiously exempt. Fasting is both a communal and individual experience and one that many Muslim staff and communities will look forward to. Managers and NHS organisations are well placed to support their fasting colleagues during Ramadan to improve their wellbeing, productivity and sense of belonging.

Ramadan and health

Ramadan fasting brings significant changes to routines with no hydration or oral medication permitted during fasting hours. For these reason and others, staff with long-term health conditions undertaking certain roles or shift patterns may need to review their health prior to commencing fasting. This will allow them to make informed choices, minimise complications and maximise the benefit of their fast, as well as operational effectiveness at work.

Those who are acutely ill are exempt from fasting, as are individuals who have medical conditions that cannot be safely managed during Ramadan. Staff may wish to speak to their doctors, occupational health, or religious authorities for more information about this. 

Acclimatisation is a significant factor for helping staff observe Ramadan. Medical teams may suggest periods of trial fasting to help understand what can safely be achieved. Staff should be encouraged to have these conversations well in advance of Ramadan so any reasonable adjustments can be catered for in good time.

See The Muslim Council of Britain Ramadan Health Guide for more information about health during Ramadan. 

The benefits of accommodating religious beliefs and practices in the workplace

  • Greater awareness and providing work adjustments are likely to lead to improved wellbeing and an improved sense of staff being valued by their employer.
  • According to Muslim census, if Muslims feel their workplace is supportive during Ramadan, they are twice as likely to stay at their current place of employment.

Supporting staff observing Ramadan

Accommodating religious belief and practices during Ramadan is about being responsive to employees' needs. It is about offering flexibility around existing holiday entitlement, working patterns, or break periods and it does not necessarily mean additional time off. In 2024, Ramadan coincides with the Easter holidays for many schools and employers should act reasonably and have a fair system in place for granting leave requests. 

The end of Ramadan is marked by observing the festival of Eid Al-Fitr and with a special prayer on the morning of that day followed by social gatherings. The date of this is dependent on the sighting of the moon, so colleagues may be uncertain of when to request leave. If leave is not possible, staff may ask for flexibility to attend morning prayers.

Observing staff may also wish to organise activities like charity fundraising in Ramadan, as acts of goodness are believed to have additional spiritual rewards during the month. The last ten days of Ramadan also hold special value and leave requests may be more common in this period, particularly the last few days of Ramadan. 

Staff should have access to nearby facilities to perform their ritual washing (ablutions) and five daily prayers, as these are increased in observance during Ramadan.

Ramadan and workplace activities

Ramadan is a highly social festival with much emphasis on the two main meals of the day. Many people will be having their meals to open the fast (iftar) at sunset with friends and families. Some staff may open or begin their fast at work, invite colleagues to an iftar, or organise an iftar in the workplace for colleagues. Managers can help support staff in this and chaplaincy services are usually happy to be of assistance as well.

The pre-dawn meal (suhoor) requires people to wake up earlier or eat their main meal late during a night shift. Evening prayers can extend into the late night are also observed in Ramadan and this may lead to additional sleep cycle disruption for some. Staff may request flexible working patterns to accommodate for these changes in routine.

Good practice initiatives

Some NHS organisations have introduced initiatives to support their Muslim staff during Ramadan. Local Mosques are often happy to help support these initiatives as acts of goodness during the month. 

Bradford Teaching Hospitals introduced fast packs to allow Muslim colleagues to break their fast without needing to leave the ward. The trust has also supplied managers with PROP PACKS (Pop-up Prayer Room Operational Pack), adopting a supportive approach by designating a location on their ward/department for a temporary pop-up prayer space for the month. Managers were given the opportunity to pledge to become a Ramadan Ally (with a badge) and to be committed to creating a Ramadan inclusive workplace. Fasting Fridays are also planned for non-Muslim colleagues to take part in and experience alongside their Muslim colleagues.

Further guidance

Several organisations have developed useful guidance to help both staff and managers during Ramadan, or can help give advice about how to support Muslim staff at work.

Should you have any questions about Ramadan or supporting religion in the workplace please email