For many Muslims, Ramadan is a period of religious observance, which includes fasting from sunrise to sunset. To help make sure your business is ready, here is a checklist for employers that will help you support any of your employees who observe religious festivals.
- Have a policy on religious observance
Your managers should familiarise themselves with your employer’s policy on religious observance during working hours. Making allowances for observance to employees of one religion, but refusing to provide equivalent benefits to employees of a different one, will amount to direct religious discrimination.
Having a policy on religious observance during working hours should have a positive impact on your employees. An absence of such a policy, together with a failure to be supportive towards employees whose religious beliefs require them to observe certain practices, could lead to accusations of religious discrimination.
- Show tolerance on reduced productivity levels
It is likely that the productivity of an employee who is fasting will be affected, particularly towards the latter part of the working day. You and your managers should be aware of this and not unduly penalise or criticise an employee whose productivity has suffered because he or she is fasting during a period of religious observance.
- Find a way to accommodate annual leave requests
You may experience high demand for holiday requests for a certain period from employees observing religious festivals. The end of Ramadan is marked by the Islamic holiday of Eid, which also signals an end to the fasting period. As an employer, you may, as a result, receive a large number of requests to take holiday towards the end of Ramadan.
It may be impractical for you to grant all of the requests. However, you should be supportive towards employees who observe religions other than Christianity, particularly because the majority of Christian holidays are provided for in the UK as bank holidays.
- Consider the effects of training events, conferences and offsite meetings
You may find that some of your employees who are in a period of religious observance are reluctant to attend training events, conferences or offsite meetings.
During Ramadan, Muslims are obliged to abstain from all food and drink between dawn and sunset. This means that you should consider carefully an employee’s request to be excused from attending work conferences, offsite locations, training and similar events during Ramadan because a failure to do so might amount to direct and indirect religious discrimination.
Your managers should arrange to meet with the employee concerned to explore fully his or her reservations about attending an event and determine whether or not a compromise can be reached. For example, the presence of food and drink at the event might be one of the concerns for the employee.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins on Monday 6 June 2016 and it ends 30 days later on Tuesday 5 July 2016.
If you need help developing a policy for religious observance or holidays for your business, please contact us and we can provide one for you. Call 0118 940 3032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This information was provided by Xperthr.