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Ramadan at work: embrace the cultural diversity of your workforce
Ramadan is from 24 April to 23 May 2020. Muslims all over the world fast for a month and there is no eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset. How do you, as an employer, take this into account in the workplace?
Ramadan can have a big mental and physical influence on your Muslim employees. Fortunately, there are also ways to ensure their safety and well-being during this period while acknowledging the rich cultural diversity of your international workforce at the same time.
What can employers do during Ramadan?
Although you aren’t legally obligated to grant special requests for Muslim employees, some temporary changes can make all the difference:
- Know your workforce: with employees in different countries, it’s important to keep track of who participates in Ramadan. Make a list and regularly ask people how they are doing.
- Introduce flexible working hours: if personnel work in shifts, let Muslims choose to work day or night shifts. If not, check if they can start or finish early during this month to make the fasting more bearable.
- Optimise time registration: flexible working hours call for smart tools. With Protime, all employees can log or track working hours in various ways.
- Be mindful of geographical differences: the sun rises in Amsterdam at a different time than it does in Stockholm or Madrid. Keep this in mind when elaborating Ramadan policy proposals.
- Focus on teamwork: partner fasting Muslims up with other employees to reduce the risk of accidents and mistakes in case of impaired alertness.
- Comply with local rules: if you are flexible with working hours and breaks, learn about national or sectoral labour rules first. In many countries, for example, employees can’t just skip breaks when they want.
- Show personal interest: Ramadan is a great moment to connect with Muslim colleagues. Good to know: Ramadan Mubarak is used to wish Muslims a joyful Ramadan.
- Ensure continuity: many Muslims will ask to take one or more days of vacation for Eid al-Fitr, the final celebration of Ramadan. Make sure you have a back-up plan for those days.
Small gestures, big results
The main Ramadan-related requests you may face are for flexible working hours, staggered breaks and annual leave. The key is to act reasonably and not to deny any requests without good justification. In doing so, you position yourself as a neutral employer, but there’s more than meets the eye here. Religion is a uniting factor for many people. Muslims will remember your efforts to fulfil their needs and wishes during Ramadan.
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