By Nermeen Salahuddin, Assistant Litigation Executive
Patience and understanding are two very important virtues that people focus on during Ramadan. Here are some suggestions that will make a huge difference to your fellow colleagues and employees. Although you may not be able to accommodate all requests, here are some tips that could help their month of Ramadan feel easier. Note that everyone is different and what works for one person may not fit for another.
Fasting can be a difficult and straining act and it is important to understand that work may be affected. Muslims wake up before sunrise to eat Suhoor and pray Fajr, one of the 5 prayers. This can cause an individual to be lethargic and have a dip in productivity. Perhaps allow extra time and extend deadlines for an employee to complete a task.
Encourage your employee to take breaks when needed. It may be more suitable for them to take regular 10-minute breaks rather than a full hour for lunch. This is because they will not need to eat and instead want to use that time to complete the other prayers that are spread out through the day.
It is important to note that some Muslims are exempt from fasting. This can range from children and the elderly to more personal reasons including medical illness, pregnancy/breastfeeding and menstruation. If a Muslim is not fasting, abstain from asking them the reason why unless you have a close relationship with them, and only if they feel comfortable with sharing that information.
To mark the end of Ramadan there is a 3-day religious festival. This is a time for families to get together and enjoy the festivities. Discuss this with your employees and ask them if there is any time they may want to take off during this time. Understand that this is a very important celebration for Muslims.
As stated, Muslims wake up exceptionally early to consume their morning meal before fasting. Some may also wish to take part in additional acts of worship during this time, essentially making them nocturnal. Discuss flexible working hours. Some may find it beneficial to start earlier and leave earlier or start later and leave later.
With the current climate, daily video calls may be overwhelming for some and these may need to be scheduled for later in the day. If you are unable to rearrange these meetings, it may also be helpful to send them an email with any important updates.
Ultimately remember that this is a very trying time for those fasting. A little courtesy and consideration can go a long way. If you notice a colleague struggling, reach out, or if you are curious about an aspect of the religion, do your research or delicately ask questions if they feel comfortable.