June 18, 2015
It is the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and observant Muslims around the world are celebrating. Those who are able are obliged to abstain from food and drink throughout the daylight hours, from dawn until sunset. Ramadan is based on the Islamic calendar so its timing varies. When it falls during the summer months, as it does in the Northern Hemisphere this year, adherents may go 16 hours without eating. That’s an important consideration for your observant workforce.
For most healthy adults (and Islamic teaching exempts those who are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, menstruating, or diabetic), the side effect of fasting is simply hunger. For others, fasting can cause drops in blood sugar, sleepiness, lightheadedness, or trouble concentrating. It’s particularly challenging for those working outdoors or in physically demanding jobs.
How can you accommodate your Muslim workers during this holiest lunar month? The Society for Human Resource Management has a few suggestions:
- Avoid lunch meetings—watching others eat can make fasting more difficult.
- Adjust work hours and allow flexible breaks.
- Offer light-duty jobs or job swaps for those who are fasting.
- Offer a place for prayer and rest.
- Let workers use their earned time off or floating holidays.
Ramadan Mubarak to all of our Muslim friends and coworkers.