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For many Muslims, Ramadan is a period of religious observance, which includes fasting from sunrise to sunset. Ashok Kanani provides a four-point checklist for employers on how to support employees observing religious festivals.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins on Tuesday 13 April and it ends on Wednesday 12 May 2021.
Ramadan during the Covid-19 pandemic
The Muslim Council of Britain has issued guidance for #SafeRamadan which employers can consult to see how the coronavirus pandemic may affect their Muslim employees.
1. Have a policy on religious observance
Managers should familiarise themselves with their employer's policy on religious observance during working hours. Making allowances for observance to employees of one religion, but refusing to provide equivalent benefits to employees of a different one, will amount to direct religious discrimination.
Having a policy on religious observance during working hours should have a positive impact on employees. On the other hand, an absence of such a policy, together with a failure to be supportive towards employees whose religious beliefs require them to observe certain practices, could lead to accusations of religious discrimination.
2. Show tolerance on reduced productivity levels
It is likely that the productivity of an employee who is fasting will be affected, particularly towards the latter part of the working day. Managers should be aware of this and not unduly penalise or criticise an employee whose productivity has suffered because he or she is fasting during a period of religious observance.
In Bhatti and another v Pontiac Coils Europe Ltd, the employment tribunal held that comments made to an employee that criticised her for reduced work productivity levels because of fasting