It is the time of Ramadan ! What should employers be aware of…

During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, practising Muslims will fast (no food or even water) from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. During this time, many employees will still continue to come in to work as usual, which as many of us can imagine, can only be tiring for them. Meanwhile, while employers are respectful of this, it can be a concern to their performance levels as one does not need to be fasting for Ramadan to know that it is hard to concentrate at work without eating or drinking.

Monitoring performance - Employees observing Ramadan whose work is monitored may see a drop in performance towards the end of the day. Employers should make sure that line managers are aware of the possible impact and are appropriately prepared.

Flexible working hours - employees may wish to start and finish work earlier because they may feel tired towards the end of the working day. Some may even wish to work during their lunch break to be able to leave early. Employers should consider accepting these requests, but should also ensure that they comply with their obligations under the Working Time Regulations.

Prayer room - Ramadan is a time when Muslims reflect on their faith. They may pray more than they usually do. If requested, employers should consider offering a quiet space where staff can pray peacefully.

Leave request - Employers may receive more requests for holiday during Ramadan. This could cause operational issues where Ramadan falls during the summer as many staff might already be requesting annual leave.

Religious observance policy - Employers should consider creating a specific policy on all religious observance. This can help formalise the employer’s approach to dealing with the practical issues mentioned above. It will also provide a useful resource for both line managers and employees.

In the UK, employees are protected under the Equality Act 2010 against discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. In particular, direct and indirect discrimination are very relevant to the workplace problems that might occur during Ramadan.
Direct discrimination will occur where an employer treats followers of one religion different to others. Indirect discrimination might happen when an employer applies a practice, policy or criterion, which looks like to apply equally to everyone. But in fact, it has worse effect on some followers of a particular religion than others.
For further information, please contact Koichiro Nakada – Head of Japan Business Group ( and Yoko Nakada - Senior Associate, Deputy Head of Japan Business Group (
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