Ramadhan (Ramadan) - guidance for reps

  1. What is Ramadhan (Ramadan)?
  2. Fasting
  3. Breaking fast
  4. Being supportive
  5. Prayer and facilities
  6. Flexible working
  7. Annual Leave
  8. Prayer room
  9. Conclusion

What is Ramadhan (Ramadan)?

Ramadhan (Ramadan) is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims have to fast from dawn till dusk. Muslims see Ramadhan (Ramadan) as the holiest month of the Islamic year and it is the period when the Quran (Muslim holy book) was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Muslims wake up before dawn and have a meal before starting the fast and then gather either in the mosque or at home with family and friends to break the fast at evening time. Later on in the evening there are extra prayers that are carried out at the mosque.

The wisdom behind fasting in Ramadhan (Ramadan) is to nurture a spirit of self-sacrifice, self-restraint, and control, fasting develops a sense of discipline and creates an understanding of how the poor who involuntary deprived of food and water feel.

Through fasting and prophetic tradition, Muslims are encouraged to be more charitable. Feeling the pangs of hunger creates a greater sympathy for the needy and Muslims often become more charitable in their deeds and donate to many worth causes during this month.


Fasting, in various forms is a practice common in many faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduisms, and Sikhism. Islam instructs Muslims to refrain from food, liquids, smoking and physical intimacy between dawn and dusk. In common with other faiths Muslims also refrain from idleness, gossip, and back-biting.

Breaking fast

It is traditional to break the fast with water and a few dates. This is followed by after dusk prayers and then a main meal is shared. Ramadhan (Ramadan) is a time for increased community bonds and most Muslims want to break their fast and perform evening prayers with others in the mosque.

Creating a supportive atmosphere

Non-Muslim staff can show their consideration for fasting colleagues in a number of ways:

  • Being prepared for fasting colleagues to work slightly different hours
  • Remembering that fasting is not easy. It takes considerable discipline and commitment and may beginning to affect concentration, mood, and energy levels towards the end of the day.


Many Muslims will be more regular with their prayers during Ramadhan (Ramadan).  Prayer times are subject to daylight and differ greatly in the summer and winter.  In the current period from the five obligatory prayers, the midday prayers (Zuhr) are likely to fall within business hours.  These take about 10-15 minutes and you can request Management to provide a room.  For Evening staff, the evening prayers (Asr) will happen around 18:05pm – 18.37pm with the first fast opening around 20.25pm and then increasing by 2 minutes or so each day.  The last fast will open around 21.16pm.


As we begin the countdown to Ramadhan 2020, we are in the midst of the coronavirus, following the Government’s advice, all Mosques and Islamic Centres have taken the decision to suspend Friday prayers sessions for the feasible future.  We do not know at this stage how long this suspension will last and if it will impact on Ramadhan.  If Friday services and evening prayers in the Mosque are suspended in Ramadhan, then Muslim staff can make their midday prayers in the Office prayer room or at home if they are working from home.

Flexible working hours

Government Departments and many public sector organisations have good flexible working hours and Muslim staff may request daily different hours. The most likely need of Muslim staff may present to Managers during Ramadhan (Ramadan) is for flexibility around working hours and break times. Of course this should be by prior arrangement with managers and their ability to accommodate these requests should be balanced against business needs.

All Muslims rise very early to eat and drink before the fast begins which will be around 3.00am this year.  Some staff may request the opportunity to come early and leave at an earlier time so they can return home.  Muslims will ask to attend the local Mosque for Friday prayers, which have to be held in the Mosque, they are usually held from around 1.30 -2pm and there are Mosques in all major towns and cities in the UK.  Attending Friday prayers is compulsory and managers should try to accommodate this bearing in mind business needs.  An alternative would be to organise Friday prayers in DWP offices where there are more than ten staff with the possibility of sourcing a local Imam.  Obviously this would require planning and local co-ordination with Management. 

For example, DWP and Department of Health Staff in Quarry House, Leeds hold Friday prayers in the office in the multi faith room, with a civil servant colleague able to lead the prayers.

However, as we are currently under restrictions due to the coronavirus, all Mosques have closed to the general public, if this restriction continues into Ramadan then Muslim colleagues will not go to the Mosque on a Friday and just complete their normal midday prayers in the office prayer room or at home.

Annual leave

Many Muslim staff will want to take Eid ul Fitr as annual leave.  Edi ul Fitr is a three-day festival although most Muslims take just the first day as holiday.  Until the new moon is sighted, the dates estimated but it will fall on Saturday 23rd May 2020 or Sunday 24th May 2020.  As Eid falls on a weekend, Muslim staff who work at weekends would want Saturday off and some may wish to take additional days in the last week of Ramadhan (Ramadan) to spend time preparing for Eid.   

Due to the increasing burden on leave requirements it is important that Muslim staff give enough notice for time off, once you know Ramadhan (Ramadan) and Eid ul Fitr dates you should contact your line manager and discuss the time off.  It is no good leaving only a few weeks’ notice and then expecting time off.

During the Coronavirus restrictions, Muslim members may be asked to work overtime at weekends due to the increased claims for benefits, this must be done voluntarily and PCS Union have received assurances no one will be forced to work overtime.

Prayer room

Muslims can request management to provide a temporary room for Muslim staff for use during Ramadhan (Ramadan) or they can negotiate a room if the need is there.

As we face restrictions due to the Coronavirus it is clear that many Muslim members like their colleagues are working from home so the need to have a prayer room does not apply.  However, there are Muslim members have to go to the office to do important work, in those circumstances a room should be made available for personal use.


This guide has been developed to provide a snapshot of Ramadhan (Ramadan) and how we can all work together to create a supportive environment for Muslim staff.

Produced by Mohammed Shafiq Chair of the PCS National Black Members Committee

You can contact Mohammed on 01619516766 or email, mohammed.shafiq@dwp.gov.uk


Updated 22 May 2017

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