For example, as Ramadan is traditionally a time to spend with friends and family, decide whether you want to ask for any time at home.
In the UK employees are not automatically entitled to time off for Ramadan so you would need to use your annual leave allowance.
Think about your options
Although it would have been better for you to raise this earlier with your employer – something to bear in mind for next year – it’s not too late to ask, should you wish to.
If, like many others observing Ramadan, you'll be avoiding food and water between sunset and sunrise, while working (and with your sleep-patterns likely disrupted too), then this will of course have a huge effect on your energy levels during the day.
Think about whether the following options would help you navigate through:
- Altering your working day to start earlier and finish earlier meaning you can head home when energy levels really start to flag
- Organising your day so meetings and conference calls happen, where possible, in the morning when you are at your most alert
- Taking regular breaks throughout the day to rest, make time for additional prayers and/or get some fresh air
- Working part-days in the office combined with remote working later in the day, allowing you to log on and work from home after you have broken the fast
Your attendance at client lunches where food and drink is enjoyed by non-Muslims during this period creates an additional challenge for you to think about. Your boss cannot require you to eat and drink at such an event, and if you would prefer to either attend and remain fasting, or not attend at all, then you need to discuss this openly.
Keep your boss in the loop
Once you’ve decided what ideal combination of the above would help, sit down with your line manager and discuss what is achievable for both of you.
It is critical you demonstrate that you’ve thought through properly how your flexible working plan will suit your role and fulfil your clients’ needs. You do need to bear in mind, however, that your ideal working pattern for Ramadan may not be compatible with your firm’s business requirements, and that there is no formal obligation for them to accommodate all your wishes.
While you are proposing a plan that you believe will enable you to work as productively as possible, your boss will be battling against other business dynamics which may affect how much flexibility he or she can offer. Your firm has the right to refuse your requests but only if there are clear business reasons for doing so, not due to your faith or observation of Ramadan.
Once you have concluded your discussion and established a way forward, do the following to ensure the next month goes as smoothly for you at work as possible:
- Agree to meet weekly with your boss throughout Ramadan - this keeps communication lines open and enables you to discuss how the arrangement is working in practice, as well as to make a practical plan for each week ahead and adapt to changing schedules
- Keep your actions in the office assertive and confident and don’t miss out on opportunities to meet new clients or get involved with new projects
- Be open with colleagues and encourage their questions. Explain what you’re doing and, if you’re comfortable, why it’s important to you. See it as a great opportunity to encourage teamwork and understanding.
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