Flexible working for Ramadan

Flexible working and a personalised approach to support are good practice for a huge range of people and circumstances and should be standard practice.

Ethnic minority


Last week I was sent some considerations for employers around Ramadan, which begins today. Andrew Willis, Head of Legal at employment law and HR consultancy, Croner, said that, given the physical demands of daytime fasting, employers might consider adjusting the work patterns of staff who are fasting, even if they are working from home. He said this could include altering shift patterns, allowing staff to start and finish earlier in the day to aid with daytime fasting or amending workplace duties to reduce the chance of fatigue impacting performance or increasing the risk of injury.

He added that it was important to remember that fasting may affect each person differently and therefore a one size fits all approach might not be effective. “Arguably,” he stated, “it is more important than ever that organisations take steps to accommodate their employees’ personal circumstances.”

Other tips revolved around annual leave and the need for increased rest breaks or a change in the timing of rest breaks and being aware of the increased risk of religious harassment during Ramadan. Willis stated: “Other staff may have the misconception that Muslim employees are receiving ‘special privileges’, especially if they are given time off or increased flexibility during the outbreak.” Organisations should work to dispel any notion of this and take action if there is any harassment, said Willis.

The advice is further evidence of the benefits of flexible working for so many different groups and of tailoring support according to people’s circumstances. It just makes good sense across the board, with a flexible culture for all – within the confines of the jobs people are doing – circumventing the privilege question.

We held a roundtable on neurodiversity the other day. In the general discussions, issues came up which clearly have wider resonance than supporting people who are neurodivergent. For instance, one point raised was the need to have a conversation with new starters about their preferred way of working.

Covid has also shown that some of the policies and practices we have been debating for years for working parents have wider implications for anyone taking a sustained break for whatever reason. For instance, staff who have been furloughing for months will need support getting back into a routine – and that routine may itself have changed due to Covid safety issues.

This kind of support and practice is not just a nice to have extra. Supporting staff will mean they perform better in the short and longer term. It makes sense all round. Diversity and inclusion practices need to move out from the sidelines and into the mainstream.

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