Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims have to fast from dawn till dusk. Muslims see Ramadan as the holiest month of the Islamic year. This year Ramadan is expected to start in the UK on 15 May 2018 and finish 14 June 2018.
Because fasting - from sunrise to sunset – takes place during this period it will mean periods of around 19 hours without food and drink.
Eid – celebrating the end of the fasting period will then take place Friday, 15 June 2018. This may lead to increased annual leave requests which should be accommodated where possible.
ACAS guidance states ‘some religions require extended periods of fasting. Employers may wish to consider how they can support staff through such a period. However, employers should take care to ensure that they do not place unreasonable extra burdens on other workers which may cause conflict between workers or claims of discrimination.’
Civil Service Islamic Society guidance states that ‘individuals must take responsibility for their own well being and mangers should be aware that fasting may cause drowsiness, loss of concentration and possible fainting. Our normal first aid procedures would apply in these circumstances and managers are responsible for ensuring that individuals who are unable to continue working are able to return safely’.
Local flexibility possible
It is important that we understand the significance of Ramadan and what it means for our colleagues who are observing Ramadan. Colleagues may ask to work different hours, and may request time off and/or early finish. The Department’s employee policies allow managers to exercise some flexibility towards staff fasting during the period of Ramadan and managers should consider such requests sympathetically and in line with the rules for granting annual leave, flexi leave or special leave without pay whilst ensuring the effective running of business operations
PCS members can ask for their times on the telephone to be reduced significantly or for alternative duties during the month of Ramadan. DWP guidance on Ramadan is on the intranet. PCS representatives should fully support Muslim members in making such requests and encourage line managers to find ways to accommodate such requests wherever possible.
PCS reps should also be mindful of additional pressures such requests may have on other members and consider requesting easements for them also during this period.