Ramadan will be starting soon. It will start on the evening of Wednesday 22 March which is the first sighting of the moon over Mecca and will last up to the evening of 21 April 2023. It is the most important time of the year for Muslims and is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and for spending time with those closest to them.
During the month of Ramadan Muslims will fast during the day. The Arabic word for fasting is sawm and those who are of able body and sound mind should fast from sunrise to sunset. The fasting includes not drinking as well as not eating and dependant on when the sun rises and falls, it can last for up to 17 hours per day.
The end of Ramadan is a big celebration and is called Eid al – Fitr which is the festival of the breaking of the fast and it will start on Saturday 22 April or Sunday 23 April dependant on the sighting of the moon. During Eid friends and families get together, presents are exchanged, food is eaten, usually new clothes are worn and the graves of lost relatives are visited.
If you have staff, colleagues, partners or customers who are Muslim you will want to be aware of Ramadan and what it means.
Aside from wishing them a Ramadan Mubarak (which means have a blessed Ramadan) you may want to bear the following in mind :
- People following Ramadan may be more tired towards the end of the day, having fasted from sunrise;
- You may want to offer flexible hours to your staff during the month for Ramadan so that they have a later, or earlier start and finish;
- Similarly, you may want to offer or agree to some working from home during this period given the challenges of a day long fast as well as the increased focus on prayer;
- You may find you have more annual leave requests for this period and of course, you should agree to them if you can;
- It would be insensitive to invite someone who is following Ramadan to a work do which involves eating or drinking during the day;
- Try and use Ramadan as a platform for increasing understanding of what it means to be a Muslim in the UK – you could throw a celebratory lunch or other event after Eid to celebrate this special holiday with your Muslim colleagues.
This article does not constitute legal advice and reliance should not be placed on it. Please contact us or call us on 01483 303636 if you require specific HR legal advice on events surrounding Ramadan or to update your company handbook and policies.