The holy month of Ramadan is upon us and is due to run until the first week of June. It is celebrated throughout the world within the Islamic faith and fasting (abstaining from eating and drinking during daylight hours) is a major part of Ramadan.
As employers, and as employees, we need to be aware of how this period may affect health and safety, both to the individuals fasting and those around them. Equally, colleagues who are not fasting need to be aware of the effects it can have on others and how they can be supportive during this religious period.
For The Employers
· Increase awareness of dehydration and fatigue, encourage short breaks to aid those who are fasting
· Be aware that fasting may have detrimental physical effects and mental health can be affected too. Support those fasting by encouraging them to talk about how they feel if it is affecting them negatively
· Be prepared for medical emergencies; ensure you have First Aid trained staff on hand in case of any emergencies
· Patience is a virtue. Fasting is proven to cause stress levels to rise, be aware of this and have additional patience with colleagues during this period
For Those Fasting
· Organisation is key – ensure strenuous work tasks are completed in the morning when you have the highest energy levels
· Moderation; when fast is broken try to limit your exposure to caffeine and sugar. It is advisable to drink sufficient amounts of water for your body to conserve for the next fasting period. Consuming fruits with high water content is beneficial, for example: melon, pineapple and blueberries all have high water content
· Be conscious of those around you who are also fasting, look out for your colleagues and keep communication open
· Ensure you are getting an adequate amount of sleep, 8 hours a day is preferable
For Colleagues Who Are Not Fasting
You may be intrigued that your fellow colleagues are abstaining from eating and drinking, however you must remember to be mindful. Its okay to ask questions, but you should probably avoid the following actions:
· Try to be considerate of what you say, I.E: ‘’I’m so hungry, I don’t know how you are fasting.’’ – These type of comments are not helpful, and especially when those fasting could be stressed, dehydrated or experiencing low energy levels
· It is suggestible that maybe inviting colleagues to a lunch date or meeting when they are fasting is not a good idea, give space where needed
· Be understanding and supportive, try to support your colleagues who are fasting by offering to talk if they are feeling down or low – communication is key
· Females are excused from fasting if they are menstruating, so if you notice one of your colleagues abstaining from fasting this could be why. It could be considered insensitive or offensive to point this out, it’s best not to mention it unless they do
Diversity is beautiful and we should encourage it within the workplace, and amongst colleagues. Another great way to encourage this would be to attend an Iftar (Dinners where fast is broken). It can give you an insight into religion, culture, traditions and help you understand and respect them.
To end, we would like to say Ramadan Kareem and stay safe!
Michelle Whitney, BA (Hons)