Workplace considerations to support Ramadan

With the month of Ramadan beginning on Saturday 2 April 2022, YMCA Robin Hood Group and our subsidiaries would like to warmly show our support for all staff members, residents, friends and supporters who may be starting their fast soon.

At the YMCA, we are deeply committed to championing equality, diversity and inclusion in all of our workplaces, and ensuring we fully support the needs of our staff members and service users from all religious backgrounds is of great importance.

We also understand how fasting can have a big impact upon a person’s daily wellbeing and recognise that everyone’s personal journey is unique. We have therefore highlighted some workplace considerations below to help you and your colleagues who may be fasting.

What is Ramadan?

For Muslims around the world, Ramadan marks a sacred time for giving thanks to Allah in addition to creating a chance for reflection.

Islamic Relief explains how, with the Islamic calendar being based around the lunar cycle, the holy month of Ramadan rotates by around ten days each year. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on Saturday 2 April 2022 and end on Sunday 1 May 2022, depending on the sighting of the moon. Healthy adult Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan from dawn until dusk. This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity are also encouraged during the holy month. 

Key workplace considerations during Ramadan

  • Observing Ramadan may be noticeable (for example not eating at lunchtime) and so it is often sensible for employees to inform their managers of the fact they are fasting so support can be provided if required.
  • Fasting may affect people in different ways (for example some people may understandably become a little irritable or slightly tired at times) and some understanding from managers and colleagues can be helpful. 
  • The effects of fasting may be felt most strongly in the afternoon so it can help to use the morning for meetings and intellectually challenging work, and perform routine tasks later. Also, when Ramadan falls in the summer months it can be particularly challenging as the days are longer. Managers are advised to consider alterative working hours to accommodate this, if service provision allows.
  • Although breaks should be kept in place, a shorter lunch may make it easier for an employee to manage their workload if they wish to take time off to carry out additional prayer or worship. 
  • Colleagues may want to avoid offering food and drink to those who fast if sharing food with other colleagues, or eating during meetings. Having an open conversation with the person who is fasting can help understand how they are feeling during this time.
  • It can be helpful to avoid events (etc.) that all staff must attend during Ramadan as people may be fasting.
  • Annual leave may be used by employees wishing to observe the Ramadan rules. Where leave requests can be accommodated please support the leave request/s made favourably. Managers are advised to be flexible with leave requests during Ramadan.
  • Ramadan may offer an opportunity for closer team relations and teamwork – for example by avoiding cakes / biscuits during a team meeting.