The College recognises that we are a diverse community with many cultures and celebrations. We want all staff to feel welcome, included and bring their whole selves to the workplace. This guidance aims to offer support for line managers and staff, including improving awareness and understanding of Ramadan and Eid. These religious celebrations offer another opportunity for colleagues to get involved and help celebrate different cultures. 

Guidance for staff and managers

What is Ramadan and Eid?

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is the holiest month. Observing Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

The word 'Eid' means 'feast' or 'festival'. Each year Muslims celebrate both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha – the names often get shortened to just 'Eid'.

Eid al-Fitr – 'festival of the breaking of the fast’ – is celebrated at the end of Ramadan.

Eid al-Adha – 'feast of the sacrifice' – is celebrated just over two months later, towards the end of Hajj, which is in the last month of the year (Dhul-Hijjah). The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, which Muslims must make at least once in their lifetime (subject to certain criteria and conditions). The Hajj is another of the Five Pillars of Islam.

When is Ramadan?

The dates of Ramadan change each year. The exact timing of this important festival varies each year as the dates depend upon the lunar cycle, which means that days start at sunset. It lasts for 29-30 days and ends with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

In 2021 in the UK, Ramadan is observed from 12 April to 12 May.

What do people do during Ramadan?

Ramadan is a time of fasting, prayer and self-reflection, where Muslims are encouraged to read and study the Qur'an more than they would outside of the holy month, and to observe extra prayers during the night. Spending time or money on one’s family and friends and charitable giving is heavily emphasised in Islam, and more so during the month of Ramadan. 

One of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Ibn Abbas (May Allah bless him) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan…” 

Muslims fast as an act of worship, a chance to get closer to Allah (God)Many Muslims will fast each day from sunrise to sunset. This includes: 

  • Not consuming food or drink from dawn till sunset 

  • No sexual relations from dawn till sunset 

  • No immoral behaviour such as lying, deception, backbiting and other sins (smoking, etc.). 

It is common to have one meal just before sunrise, known as the Suhoor, and an evening meal after sunset, known as Iftar. Different cultures will have different traditions during Ramadan, such as consuming special foods or eating Iftar with the extended family.  

According to the Muslim Council of Britain, the following groups are exempt from fasting:  

  1. Young children and the elderly 

  1. All those who are unable to fast due to illness (physical or mental) or being very frail. 

  1. Those menstruating or with lochia discharge  

  1. Those who are pregnant or lactating who have credible concerns about their own or their child’s health  

  1. Travellers  

  1. Healthcare staff required to provide care to Covid-19 patients at real risk of dehydration due to wearing PPE and long shifts 

Understanding fasting

Fasting may affect people in different ways. Some effects of fasting may be felt more strongly in the afternoon. It may be helpful to use the morning for meetings and challenging work and perform routine tasks later or in the afternoon. For example, some people may become a little irritable or slightly tired during the day.

At the office, colleagues may want to avoid offering food and drink to those who fast, or eating during meetings. Colleagues who are fasting may not be able to attend certain events such as lunchtime events where food is provided. Consider, where possible, arranging alternative dates or work with colleagues to ensure they are not missing important information from these meetings or events.

When Ramadan falls in the summer months, it can be particularly challenging for individuals, as the days in the Northern Hemisphere are longer. 

Key workplace considerations during Ramadan and Eid, on campus and working from home

  • Observing Ramadan may be noticeable or unnoticeable. Providing they are comfortable doing so, it is advisable for employees to inform their managers in advance if they will be fasting or if they may be booking time out in their diaries for prayer. 
  • If on campus, manager should encourage staff to book a meeting room space to be used as a prayer space, especially if the Multi-Faith Centre is unavailable. 
  • Adjustments to consider may include flexible working and working hours during this period. Some employees may want to start their days earlier and finish earlier so they have time prior to Iftar. This will need to be discussed and agreed by managers in advance and communicated with the team where necessary. 
  • Encourage regular breaks and flexibility around lunchbreaks to allow for prayer and worship needs. 
  • Managers may want to consider arranging rotas for those fasting, and/or allow those who are not required to be based onsite to be allowed to work from home. 
  • Managers should be prepared for people to make annual leave requests to observe Ramadan and celebrate Eid. 
  • Religious celebrations such as Eid offer another opportunity for colleagues to get involved and help celebrate different cultures.

The Muslim Council of Britain has provided advice for employers, line managers and people observing Ramadan during coronavirus.

With thanks to Ajmal Musa for providing information for the guidance.