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Ramadan and coronavirus - Supporting Muslim workmates

Published date
Support and solidarity to Muslim colleagues during Ramadan under Covid-19 lockdown.

The next month is a time for deep spiritual reflection and collective rituals for Muslims across the UK.

In normal times, it's spent breaking fast with friends and family, doing charitable activities and praying together.

It’s a time for Muslims to share food with their families and friends, and celebrate their cultures, heritage and faith.

For many Muslims, Ramadan is a time to look forward to - because of the communal element.

A lot of people centre this month around their local mosques, where they can go and break their fast with others, perform late night prayers and organise extra charitable activities.

But this year, the Muslim community across the world is affected by Covid-19.

That means mosques in the UK are closed and much of the ritual side of Ramadan has to take place at home.

That’s why its more important than ever to support your Muslim workmates, to stand in solidarity with them and create a team culture where everyone is respected and valued, no matter where they’re from or who they worship.

For the next four weeks, thousands of Muslims across the UK will be fasting during daytime to mark Ramadan or Ramazan – with many doing it alongside their job.

They could be fasting while working from home or on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.

Ramadan falls at a different time each year because Islam uses the lunar calendar.

This year, Ramadan will last from late April until late May – it continues for 29 or 30 days from when you begin your fast.

This year in the UK, the fasting day is long. The morning meal will be before dawn. And people won’t break their fast until dusk. That’s 16 hours without food or drink.

The combination of long hours and hot days can be challenging for many Muslims who have to go into work during lockdown.

That’s why we wanted to write about the small practical steps that colleagues and employers can take to support their Muslim workmates and friends.

Ask colleagues if they’re observing Ramadan

Don’t be shy about asking Muslim colleagues if they will be observing Ramadan.

Some people may choose not to take part – perhaps for medical reasons – as fasting is a personal choice.

Be considerate

Ramadan should not interfere with everyday tasks at work, but considering many frontline workers, especially our healthcare workers are doing demanding shifts - fasting co-workers may be tired or lacking energy during the day.

A little bit of compassion goes a long way - check on how they’re doing and if there's anything you can do to support them.

Usually the first ten days are the hardest.

If you have colleagues who will be fasting, ask them if changing some aspects of work can make it easier for them.

It’s not just about fasting

Ramadan isn’t only about not eating or drinking during daylight hours.

It usually means rising early and eating late, and may mean taking part in late night prayers at their homes.

Ramadan is usually a time for deep spiritual reflection, congregational prayers and lots of social dinners with family and friends.

Because of the lockdown rules it could be a lonely time for those who are living alone - check in on them to see if they are doing ok.

Be flexible

Some workers may ask to change their working day or shift times, to take a shorter lunch break, or to make sure they finish on time so they can break their fast at home.

Being flexible may help people work when they are most productive.

Some workers might have additional religious commitments during Ramadan.

It may be especially important to perform prayers on time through the week.

Employers can help by ensuring there’s a quiet space in the workplace for prayers and by allowing short breaks.

The last ten days of Ramadan are considered to be especially holy.

Some Muslim workers might decide to take time off, or ask to change their working patterns to perform all-night prayers.

Eid ul Fitr marks the end of the fasting period. It’s like Christmas for Muslims – the biggest celebration of the year.

There is often some uncertainty about which day Eid will fall because it depends on moon sightings, so be prepared for your Muslim colleagues not to know the exact date.

This may also impact on when they can work and how much notice they can give you, as Eid can last up to three days.

Supporting colleagues during Ramadan is part of building a culture where everyone is respected and valued.

This Ramadan, the TUC would like to wish all Muslim frontline workers, trade unionists and everyone who is fasting in the UK: Ramadan Mubarak.

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