The month of Ramadan will begin on the evening of Thursday 23 April and end on the evening of Saturday 23 May.
Ramadan involves a daily period of fasting for Muslims starting at sunrise and finishing at sunset over the month. This means abstaining from food, drink (including water) and smoking. While fasting is an important part of Ramadan, it is also a time of self-reflection and self-evaluation for Muslims.
This year will be very different for staff who are Muslim and observe fasting during Ramadan, as traditionally communal activities and prayer are observed and encouraged. Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, access to prayer facilities, quiet rooms and multi faith rooms internally and externally have been largely suspended. These restrictions may have a negative impact on staff wellbeing during an already difficult period. Line managers should encourage staff to talk to their local chaplaincy team for support.
Accommodating religious belief and practices during Ramadan is about being responsive to employees‘ needs. It does not necessarily mean extra time off, it is about offering flexibility around existing holiday entitlement, working patterns or break periods. Unlike previous years, this may prove more challenging if resources are reduced due to staff absence from self-isolation and illness.
Similarly, staff should also be aware of the health issues related to fasting, so that they are able to make more informed choices, minimise complications and maximise the benefit of their fast as well as operational effectiveness. Those who are ill with COVID-19 won't be able to take part in daily fasting, as fasting is not compulsory, or advisable for anyone who is ill or has a medical condition.
Several organisations have developed useful guidance to help both managers and staff during Ramadan, these include:
Should you have any questions about Ramadan or supporting religion in the workplace please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our COVID-19 pages also provide additional guidance around some of the workforce challenges currently facing NHS organisations.