What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar year and is the month of fasting. In the UK this year Ramadan occurs from around 23 Mar 2023 until 24 April 2023 (dates may vary). Fasting is considered a duty upon all adults and healthy Muslims.
A day of fasting is observed during daylight hours, beginning at dawn and ending at sunset. Muslims will awake before dawn for ‘Suhur’ (a meal taken before the fast begins) and will break their fast at ‘Iftar’ (a meal taken to mark the end of the fast) just as the sun has set.
Muslims regard Ramadan as an opportunity for self-purification, reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality. Muslims appreciate the feeling of togetherness shared by family and friends throughout the month. It is also a month of charity giving and benevolence.
I manage and/or work with staff that are fasting; what do I need to know?
Fasting will start between 3.30 - 5:00 am and end around 6.30 - 8:30pm (there are slight variations to the times each day). This means a Muslim who is fasting this year could go without food or water for over 16 hours a day. Fasting in the summer is also combined with disturbances in normal sleep pattern that can leave individuals feeling more tired than normal, particularly mid-afternoon and towards the end of the day. Also, towards the latter part of the day some individuals that are fasting might feel a little lightheaded.
An agreement to requests for slight adjustments to the working day during Ramadan will be appreciated by Muslim staff members. What is reasonable will differ from role to role. Examples, can include:
- Some Muslim staff members may wish to start earlier in the morning or have a shorter lunch break so that they can finish early. Managers are asked to accommodate this where at all possible and within reason.
- Staff fasting during Ramadan may wish to avoid peak travel times.
- The effects of fasting may be felt most strongly in the latter parts of the working day, so it can be helpful to use the earlier parts of the working day for meetings and more challenging work and save routine tasks for later in the day.
- For staff whose work involves physical activity or labour, the risk assessment for their work activities may require review to consider the affects of fatigue.
It is considerate to avoid scheduling staff social activities or working lunches during Ramadan.
Some Muslim staff members may endeavour to practice their faith more during Ramadan than they might for the remainder of the year. As a consequence of this, more Muslim staff might wish to offer prayers during the day. This will normally be around 1:00 - 5:00 pm in the summer months for a few minutes each.
Advice for workers observing Ramadan
- Plan your workload and manage your calendar as best as you can.
- Ensure you get as much rest as possible outside of working hours and utilise the lunch break as a time to get rest and perform prayers.
- Drink plenty of water during non-fasting hours to keep hydrated.
- Avoid oily and fatty foods at meal times and consider slow release, high energy foods like lentils and porridge.
- If you feel your energy levels diminishing, refresh your wudu (ritual ablution) to help ease the feeling of lethargy.
- Avoid sitting at your desk or home workstation for too long.
- Try to get fresh air to keep yourself fresh, but limit your physical activity to not over-exert yourself.
What happens when Ramadan ends?
The end of Ramadan is marked by the festival of Eid for which some Muslim staff members will wish to take leave from work. The actual day Eid falls on will depend on when the new moon is sighted. For this reason it might not be possible for the staff member to be very specific about the day they would like to be away from work. Again, managers are asked to take this into account and be flexible where possible.
For more information on UCL's policies on religion and belief please see guidelines for students and staff.