Written by Emma Symonds

Information taken from NHS Muslim Network and the BIMA

The Islamic calendar is calculated according to the lunar cycles. Ramadan last 29-30 days and ends with the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr. This year Ramadan is due to start on 23/24th April and will end 23/24 May, depending on the sight of the moon.

What do Muslims do during Ramandan?

Muslims are required to fast during the times of dawn and sunset daily. Fasting is the act of complete abstinence from food, drink, smoking and intimate sexual relationships during the day. Challenging, bad behaviour such as lying, deceit, swearing or insulting others during those times of abstinence may lessen the rewards that is being sought through fasting.

The fasting ends at sunset with a meal called Ifatr. Some Muslims will first drink water and eat dates before having a normal meal, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad.

In addition to fasting, Muslims may also spend the evening in a special supererogatory prayer called Taraweeh. This is usually performed in congregations at a mosque. This may not be possible through the COVID-19 regulations and our colleagues should be mindful of this and how it may impact someone’s thoughts.

Workplace Considerations

YDH is a diverse workplace with managers, supervisors, and colleagues who will be fasting through this time frame. It is important that we, as their colleagues, are aware of key important elements of the fasting through Ramadan. We are happy to share tips from the NHS Muslim Network.

Advice for line managers and supervisors

  1. Do not make assumptions about who may be in your team and may be observing Ramadan. Islam is a faith that welcomes people from all races and backgrounds.
  2. Also don’t assume all Muslims fast in Ramadan. They are reasons both physical and mental health reasons why people don’t fast, including pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  3. Fasting may not be noticeable so make it easy on your team by letting them know if you are fasting.
  4. If a member of your team is observing Ramadan, ensure you offer 121 time to discuss any reasonable adjustments that may be considered.
  5. Be mindful of how people may be affected by Ramadan and do not expect them to act in the same way. Some colleagues may be come quieter than normal, or more tired than normal.
  6. For many Muslims and people who observe Ramadan, it is a time to look forward too as it is a time for communion. If COVID-19 guidance is still in place, this may lessen the joy and heighten your staffs anxiety or emotional state. Please be mindful that they may want to discuss or keep their feelings to themselves. You can help by signposting them to supportive networks including the Health & Wellbeing guides and Chaplin.
  7. Dignity & Respect is essential when supporting any colleagues observing Ramadan. They will not be drinking any fluids, including water, and this may affect their energy levels and they may feel less inclined to join in conversations. This is not a personal thing, it is about being responsive and encouraging.
  8. When considering reasonable workplace adjustments give some thought on how you can maintain service provision. Managers and their staff can discuss and consider options such as occasional working from home where appropriate to the role and individual circumstances, core hour working where time can be made up in lieu, and provision for paid and unpaid leave where viable. When Ramadan falls in the summer months it can be particularly challenging, as the days are longer.
  9. Remember that your colleagues may be fasting but they won’t expect you or your team to avoid eating or drinking in front of them, However, please be sensitive and try not to continually offer cake or a cup of tea.  
  10. Wearing PPE may make fasting harder for staff members who are observing Ramadan. Please support team members by being understanding if anyone needs to remove PPE more often than usual.
  11. You may find that some of your staff request leave over Ramadan to focus on their worship. This should be treated like any other annual leave request, taking in consideration the impact on capacity and service provision. We do encourage you to accommodate requests where possible and refer back to this guidance to aid conversations with staff for oncoming years.
  12. Staff will want to pray during the day, we encourage you to have those conversations with those who observe Ramadan so you can plan ahead to lessen additional staff pressure at key times and to chat about varying pray times. Staff are able to use the multi faith chapel on Level 4, The Academy.
  13. Should the chapel be closed at any point, ensure staff have enough notice to secure reasonable alternatives.

Advice for Colleagues who are Fasting

  1. Prior to Ramadan, speak with your manager or supervisor so they have the opportunity to understand how you observe and how it may impact your normal routines. This is the perfect time to discuss reasonable adjustments and alternative options to allow service provision to continue uninterrupted as well as support your needs.
  2. Pre consider your Rota, working patterns and any meetings you would normally attend. Where possible alert your colleagues if there are any changes to this. This may also stimulate a conversation which will help raise awareness and educate your colleagues and peers.
  3. If you plan to request annual leave, have these discussions with your manager with plenty of notice, discussing how you can maintain minimal impact on patients care or avoid department pressures.
  4. Remember to look after yourself, take your breaks during the day. Drink plenty of water through the times that you are not fasting to keep you hydrated and able to think clearly.
  5. Discuss with your manager how you would like to meet your pray provisions, taking into consideration the additional pressures that COVID-19 outbreak has on the department and potential patient care.

There is a celebration at the end of Ramadan called Eid-ul-Fitr, which is the festival of Fast-Breaking.

On the morning of Eid, Muslims go the mosque for a special prayer. This is usually followed by visits to families and friends, exchanging gifts and socialising.

If the social distancing due to COVID-19 remains enforced during Eid-ul-Fitr, staff are advised to observe those measures. You can find additional guidance of a general nature through the pandemic through this link: (www.gov.uk)

This will help answer some questions about celebrating in your home and with family, singing and chanting, face coverings and considerations for those people who may be symptomatic.

If you , as a Muslim observing Ramadan or a colleague wishing to support your colleagues, you can find more information on how to manage Ramadan through COVID-19 by visiting the Celebrating religious festivals during coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK

You can also contact the Chaplin, Linda Hann on linda.hann@ydh.nhs and the EDI Lead on emma.symonds@ydh.nhs.uk

Don’t forget that the Staff Minorities network and Diversity Network can also support both managers, supervisors and colleagues regardless of their need. You can contact Lydia.karamura@ydh.nhs.uk and E&D@ydh.nhs.uk for support and guidance.

Now is the time to be even more supportive of your colleagues who observe Ramadan, to offer support and be open to learning more about what is important to them. Ensure your team culture remains inclusive, respectful and ever one feeling valued.