Across the UK, thousands of Muslims will be fasting during daytimes from beginning of April until the beginning of May to mark Ramadan - with many doing it alongside their job, like myself!
I am looking forward to this month and gearing up mentally and having conversations in the workplace with my manager, colleagues and co-workers. The start of Ramadan fluctuates each year because the lunar Islamic calendar follows the phases of the moon.
Ramadan is the most sacred month in Islamic culture. It is a month for spiritual discipline and a reminder for things we should be grateful for, things we tend to take for granted (like food and water). It's a month to build on good habits, be kind and charitable.
Since the last few years, the summer months’ fasting has been long and on average the fasting day is around 14-16 hours. This year the fasts will be around 14 hours (without food or drink, that includes water). The morning meal will be before dawn, the start of the fast and end at sunset.
The combination of long hours and hot days can be challenging for many Muslims at work. Fasting should not interfere with everyday tasks at work. But during Ramadan, fasting co-workers may be tired or lacking energy during the day, usually the first ten days are the hardest.
Why is this important to the HCPC?
Our organisation is built on the foundation of our values: Fair, Compassionate, Inclusive and Enterprising. Supporting colleagues during Ramadan is part of building an inclusive work environment where everyone is engaged, respected, valued and feel a sense of belonging because of all the effort from their colleagues/managers.
At the HCPC we have a rich, diverse workforce and we actively take steps to celebrate our diversity, appreciate different cultures, views and perspectives, because we know this brings richness and vitality to the fabric of the HCPC.
Understanding this and applying this in our day-to-day practice means we can develop real connections with each other in a way where everyone feels they can bring their authentic self to work which in turn can see an increase in productivity and emotional wellbeing among employees.
What are we doing to support inclusive practices for our colleagues fasting this month?
Colleagues who are fasting are encouraged to speak to their line managers about supporting them in aspects of work in a way that can make it easier for them. Ramadan isn’t only about not eating or drinking during daylight. Because of the summer months, it usually means rising early, eating late and taking part in charitable activities or late-night prayers.
We have started Ramadan conversations locally in teams between colleagues and managers and using our internal communication channels to raise awareness through blogs, pictures, posts, reminders, tips, articles, even sharing recipes.
On a more practical level, we are supporting our Muslim colleagues in the following ways through manager, employee and HR conversation:
- Encourage teams and managers try to avoid holding compulsory team lunches
- In the office, we make allowances for Muslims to take a few minutes break to pray their daytime prayer – we have a prayer room as a quiet space which can be used as a space for rest too
- Start work early, work a shorter lunch break in return for an earlier finish and allow for short breaks to keep the mind fresh!
- Take breaks in between meetings, avoid hosting very long and/or early morning meetings
- Make slight adjustments to their working day/pattern and work flexibly because we realise that being flexible may help people work when they are most productive
- Holidays and time off during the month and at the end for Eid celebrations - the last ten days of Ramadan are considered especially holy - managers should plan in advance, look at workload, arrange cover and accommodate as much as possible
- The HCPC avoids holding events, such as official staff away days and get-togethers during Ramadan.
Looking forward to Eid
Eid ul Fitr marks the end of the fasting month. It’s like Christmas for Muslims – the biggest celebration of the year. The name "Eid al-Fitr" translates as "the festival of the breaking of the fast”. Like the beginning of Ramadan, Eid begins with the first sighting of the new moon.
The Eid feast is really the perfect way to end the month of fasting and it’s a reminder of all the things that we have to be grateful for. For me, that is home, family, loved ones, safety and supportive workplace colleagues.