How Muslims can cope with fasting at workplace

Muslims at the pre-Ramadan talk organised by the Nigerian American Muslim Integrated Community (NAMIC), Brooklyn, New York on June 14, 2015                                                                                                                                        PHOTO: KABIR ALABI GARBA

Muslims at the pre-Ramadan talk organised by the Nigerian American Muslim Integrated Community (NAMIC), Brooklyn, New York on June 14, 2015 PHOTO: KABIR ALABI GARBA

MANY people can’t get through a workday without their morning coffee, much less a meal, but with the holy month of Ramadan in full force, millions of Muslim employees across the country will go about their days without food or drink for more than 14 hours at a time.

Indeed, the employers are mostly concerned about the effect of fasting by employees on productivity. However, research reveals that fasting Muslims can actually be productive as much as expected, if certain factors are put into consideration.

Investigations showed that during the blessed month of Ramadan, some Muslims slack off, showing up late at work, sleeping on the job, procrastinating, doing the least possible, amid avoidable excuses. This type of behaviour is inconsistent with the very spirit of Ramadan.

An international employment agency, Inclusive employer, gave some tips and suggestions for managers and employees on how to maximise the period of Ramadan for productivity.

Where possible, some individuals may prefer to start their working day earlier, or work through lunch hours in order to finish earlier so that they can observe their Iftar (breaking the fasting) at home.

Besides, a fasting employee can also decide to balance his work day, such that he can reserve the morning hours for meetings, intellectually demanding work or tasks that require concentration, and save the routine tasks for later in the day.

According to The Islamic Workplace, an Islamic website, Muslims need to inform the employer or superior about his fasting, and rethink the concept of work, if needed.

Many Muslims working during Ramadan tend to be worried about how to nurture their ‘spiritual’ self while coping with a demanding work environment. They struggle during work hours waiting to get home or to a mosque to really ‘find God’ again, scholars advice that Allah is everywhere and could be consulted even at workplace after getting permission.

It is also advised that a fasting employee should hydrate well during the night and at sahoor and after iftar so that he does not get dehydrated on the job, adding that severe dehydration can lead to people being hurt or passing out on the job.

Islam encourages generosity, therefore Muslims should endeavour to break their fast together with co-workers and invite the non-Muslims including the boss for Iftar.

For the employers, it is suggested that, whilst it is typical for some businesses (depending on the nature of work) to slow down during Ramadan, employers should plan ahead if it is anticipated that Ramadan will be a busy month, by arranging adequate staff cover.

Employers should note that where employees work beyond Ramadan hours, such individual should be given an opportunity to observe Iftar (terminate fasting) within a specific timeframe.

Employers are however advised to bear in mind that Muslims observing the fast have a longer day than usual, therefore should be given some consideration that would encourage the fasting employee.

It is also advisable for employers to have in place a Ramadan policy, which sets out the standard expected of employees. It is usual to ask employees to refrain from consuming food or drinks in communal areas of the workplace out of respect for employees that are fasting.

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