You may have heard buzz that we are just a few days away from the start of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan which is set to begin on May 6, 2019 and end on June 5, 2019. The start of the Holy Month depends on the sighting of the new moon as muslims observe a lunar calendar. An estimated 1.6 to 1.8 billion muslims will greet the holy month in a few short days and begin observing 30 days of fasting and other religious practices.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It was during this month that the Quran or Koran - the holy book of Islam - was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) by Allah (God).
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast, abstain from pleasures from dawn to dusk and pray to become closer to God. The month of Ramadan is a reminder for Muslims to exercise self-discipline, be mindful of the rights of others and gain sympathy with those who are poor and go hungry.
With more muslims entering the workforce we have a growing representation of muslims in the workplace heightening the need for "Sensitivity Training" for managers as well as fellow employees. Sensitivity Training and awareness will help each employee feel more comfortable at work. It will help non-muslim employees understand why their Muslim counterpart may need to take a couple breaks during the day inside and outside of Ramadan as muslims pray 5 times a day, two prayers fall within their working hours Dhuhr at Mid-day and Asr at Mid-Afternoon.
The Muslim employee may need to take off a few days for the end of Ramadan celebration Eid Al Fitr. This may come at an inconvenient time for the employers business. This can be cause for heightened anxiety for the muslim employee as he or she may be forced to choose Faith over Work or Work over Faith. The employee is more likely to opt for the former but without an understanding management/support system at work the employee may find themselves looking for a job.
What is Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr is the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, this holiday means the end of the fasting period. Eid al-Fitr is a three-day spiritual celebration to share in feasts and prayers. Muslims will attend prayers in the morning, then visit family, friends, neighbors, the sick and the elderly to celebrate the completion of the fast.
Some may ask why is this so controversial the employee can easily ask for time off ahead of time. However muslims follow a lunar calendar and must await the sighting of the moon to begin the holy month so the commencement date and end date may vary. This is particularly hard in retail jobs where big shopping days may fall on the religious holiday.
The best things an employee can do is communicate with their boss and give them the 2 possible start and end dates. The best thing an employer can do is to be flexible with the dates.
HR Managers, Managers, Supervisors and the like can do their best to accommodate the employee. This helps the employee to show up as their best self. These actions nurture trust, higher staff retention, increased morale and team productivity.
Here are 7 tips to help Muslim employees during Ramadan and after the holy month for Eid:
7 Tips and Best Practices for Ramadan and Eid at work
1- Establish when the start of Ramadan and Eid are approaching so no one is caught off guard. This will ensure the entire team is in the loop.
2-Ensure you communicate with all staff that may work with a muslim colleague, so they are aware they are fasting; Muslims can find they are fasting for up to 17 hours or more which can affect the way they may come across at work.
3-Muslims who work a traditional 9-5 maybe given flextime for earlier start and finish times;
4-For 30 days not schedule lunch meetings for the fasting employee as not to create a hardship or the awkward decline conversation.
5- Save meals for the fasting person so they can break their fast on the meal you provided;
6-Do Not expect the Muslim employee to commit to evening functions as the evening are dedicated to eating, family and worship time.
7- Try to accommodate those Muslim employees who request 2 weeks off to participate in the last ten holy days of Ramadan as well as Eid-al-Fitr.
We hope you enjoyed these tips and you share them with your employers or employees to help them better understand the importance of Ramadan and Eid.