Britain’s workplaces have become far more inclusive in recent years however there is still much work to be done.
A report by the centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies at the University of Leeds found that negative perceptions of workers of Muslim faith still exist and this can be exasperated during Ramadan.
In fact, Ramadan can pose some thought-provoking issues around general health and safety in the UK workplace and we are going to explore those in this weeks’ blog.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan occurs during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and it is the most sacred month of the year.
As the Islamic calendar is lunar, it doesn’t follow a strict starting and end date and instead, it is the visible sight of the new moon that starts the month-long observations of Ramadan.
In 2018, it began on the 14th of May.
How can this affect Health and Safety?
Ramadan is characterised by fasting during daylight hours and it is part of the five pillars of Islam. This includes food and drink as well as other activities such as smoking.
Refraining from eating or drinking during these hours can have implications for health and safety and it is something that managers need to consider. Fatigue, lack of concentration and other side effects are common so how can this be mitigated during the month of Ramadan while ensuring that those who observe this practice can continue working?
Advice for managers during Ramadan
There are some basic things that managers can do which can help staff during Ramadan although everyone’s need should be assessed on an individual basis and in relation to the job that they carry out.
There are many misconceptions about Ramadan and dispelling these myths for all staff will help make the workplace a more inclusive environment.
Ensure that those who do practice Ramadan know that you are aware of what it involves and are willing to make adjustments to help them at work. This also feeds into creating an open culture in the workplace where sensitive topics can be discussed and staff feel confident about raising issues which will improve health and safety in general.
Carrying out a risk assessment will address any potential issues before they happen. It is part of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and will keep everyone safe.
Individual circumstances should be taken into consideration as some workers will cope better with fasting and observing Ramadan than others.
Flexible working hours
Finally, look into operating a temporary flexible working pattern for employee’s that can’t eat or drink during the daylight hours due to their faith.
All employees have the right to ask for flexible working in the UK (although the rules of Northern Ireland are slightly different) so accommodate this as much as you can. It can help take the pressure off employee’s during Ramadan and ensure health and safety is upheld across the board.
Ramadan and health and safety
The Islamic holy month is due to end on the evening of June 14th but it isn’t too late to accommodate the needs of workers who observe it.
Some very basic steps can be taken that will not only keep Muslim employee’s safe but will maintain safety in the organisations as a whole.