The Islamic holy month of Ramadan started on Monday 6th June and will draw to a close on Tuesday 5th July. The annual period sees prayer, fasting every day from sunrise to sunset and contributing to charity.
As 22% of the global population identifies as Muslim and all able-bodied followers of the faith are required to take part, there are certain things that you need to consider as a business owner to ensure that you’re both supporting your employees and making sure that operational requirements are still being met.
Here, we explain what you need to be aware of and what you can do in practical terms to make sure that you’re fulfilling your obligations as an employer.
Ensure you have a policy on religious observance
Creating a policy that details the provisions around religious observance during working hours is always a good idea and will mean that everyone knows precisely what their rights and responsibilities are. Update your documentation regularly and take into account feedback from your workforce.
Of course, you should bear in mind that such a policy should be applicable to all faith and belief systems. If, for example you made provisions for Muslims but didn’t acknowledge the rights of members of staff who follow a different religion, then this could amount to direct religious discrimination.
Be mindful of issues related to reduced productivity and output
During Ramadan, Muslims will be abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours. Therefore, it makes sense to conclude that productivity levels may drop. Be mindful of this and exercise tolerance and understanding.
If there are wider issues at play when it comes to underperformance, then this should be something that’s addressed within the framework of your existing policies and practices. It would be completely unacceptable though to penalise workers based purely on their output during a period of religious observance.
Take a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and hatred
Taking steps to make sure that your workplace is positive and inclusive is absolutely vital and it’s important to tackle any form of discrimination or hatred head on. Hateful or discriminatory behaviour should be addressed straightaway, in line with your HR policies.
If you’re serious about being an exemplary employer, then you may want to consider how you can go a step further and create a deeper level of understanding about diversity and equality issues. It may be the case that you have a member of staff who is observing Ramadan, who is happy to talk to the workforce about their beliefs and practices. It goes without saying that you should never force anyone into doing this, but it could play a small part in driving your business towards the future.
Ramadan, and indeed other periods of religious observance, must be handled with sensitivity, understanding and confidence. If you have questions about any particular issues that you may be facing in your business, then we can help. Give us a call today and we can arrange a no-obligation discussion about your upcoming challenges.