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Ramadan presents religious discrimination concern

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12th Sep 2007
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Workers are being warned not to indirectly discriminate against Muslim workers by failing to recognise the fast-approaching month of Ramadan.

Law firm DWF says simple changes to the working routine, such as allowing breaks at different times of day, could help avoid charges of religious discrimination during Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.

This year, Ramadan takes place from 13 September to 11 October, culminating in the celebration Eid ul-Fitr on 12 October.

"Employers do not have to allow time off or changes to the usual routine if it would adversely affect the business. However, it is good practice to do so wherever possible and helps to generate goodwill," said DWF partner Jon Keeble. "Accommodating religious practices does not mean allowing extra time off but rather being flexible about employees’ existing holiday entitlement or break periods.

"Most employers are aware that discrimination on grounds of religion is against the law but they should also ask themselves whether they are guilty of indirect discrimination. For example, always scheduling important meetings for dusk when Muslims are due to break their fast could fall into this category."

Tips to accommodate Muslim workers during Ramadan:

  • Look at special requests for annual or unpaid leave.
  • Consider flexible working or changing shift rotas to accommodate breaking the fast.
  • Consider allowing extra time off to pray, especially at sunset.
  • Encourage gestures such as sending Eid cards, in a similar way to Christmas cards.
  • Avoid organising social events during major religious festivals.
  • Consider allowing meal breaks at different times.
  • Consider training staff on different religious events.

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By Jeremy Thorn
13th Sep 2007 15:07

I thought this was a very helpful article.

Not being entirely sure what to say to my Muslim colleagues earlier this week, I have asked what salutation would be appropriate on the eve of Ramadan as I had no idea.

If you may be interested, I understand it is "Ramadan mabrouk".


And to you too!

Jeremy

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