We’ve just recently reached the end of Ramadan, the period of religious observance by Muslims that involves fasting during daylight hours. Celebrations have gotten underway to mark Eid al-Fitr, and whilst followers of the faith give thanks, savvy business owners should take time for a little reflection.
How well did your company handle the festival, and did you ensure that Muslims in your workforce were supported during the period?
If you recognise that you need to make improvements when it comes to religious observance and celebrating festivals, it might be time to start to think about the practical steps that you can take in the future.
Here, we’ll walk you through what you need to do to ensure your business is suitably prepared for fulfilling its obligations and supporting a diverse workforce.
Ensure you have a robust policy on religious observance
It’s important that all members of staff are aware of your policy on religious observance during working hours. If individuals know their rights and responsibilities, you’re much less likely to encounter any problems. The policy should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it’s fit for purpose, and where possible, a cross-section of the workforce should be consulted on the policy before it’s implemented.
It’s worth noting here that your arrangements for facilitating religious observance should apply to all faiths. If, for example, you supported Muslim members of staff during Ramadan but refused to recognise the needs of Jewish employees during Sukkot, this could be perceived as discrimination.
Have a knowledgeable member of staff on hand to answer any questions from the workforce
When you employ a diverse workforce, you will often be faced with questions around why you’ve created any relevant provisions. An employee might want to know why certain members of staff appear to be treat differently at certain times. Or they simply might want to understand a little more about the religious observation in question, so they can better support their colleagues.
Ensure that you have a skilled member of staff on hand to answer any questions of this nature. They should be well versed on your people policies, and able to handle such conversations with sensitivity and confidentiality.
Be understanding about reduced productivity
If an employee is fasting, their work may be impacted. It’s important that you recognise this, and ensure that your managers are aware that they shouldn’t unduly punish or criticise a worker whose productivity has dipped because they’re abstaining from food and drink during a time of religious observance.
Of course, if reduced productivity is a wider problem in your workforce throughout the year, steps need to be taken to rectify this. You absolutely must ensure though that workers are not scapegoated because of their religious beliefs.
Always consider the bigger picture
During Ramadan, or any other time of religious observance, it’s sensible to think about the tasks that your employees are required to carry out. If they regularly have to travel to different sites, take clients out for dinner, or attend conferences and events, you’ll have to carefully consider how this could potentially cause issues.
It may be appropriate to delay any such events until after the period of religious observance has finished. Communication is often key here. If you’re uncertain about anything, liaise with the employee in question and make sure that you recognise and understand their needs and any concerns that they might have.
After reading this guide, you’ll hopefully have a greater understanding of how you can support your staff, and troubleshoot any problems that might arise. However, if you are worried that you’re not fulfilling your responsibilities when it comes to promoting diversity and equality, then we can help. Give us a call today to arrange an initial no charge/no obligation consultation on 012980848415/07766741738.