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 falling on the 22 or 23 April 2023. 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 and observe fasting during Ramadan, will participate in a daily period of fasting, 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.
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.
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. The benefits for employers:
- Greater awareness and providing work adjustments are likely to lead to improved wellbeing and an improved sense of staff being valued by their employer.
- If Muslims feel their workplace is supportive during Ramadan, they are twice as likely to stay at their current place of employment.
Several organisations have developed useful guidance to help both staff and managers during Ramadan.