Ramadan Kareem: How can you support your colleagues

March 11, 2024


An introduction to Ramadan

Ramadan is a month when predominantly followers of the Muslim faith abstain from food or drink, known as fasting.

While it is an Islamic month, many followers of other faiths and those of no faith also decide to participate in the traditions.

Written by Ali Hussain, Project Manager, this blog post provides background information on what the month entails and how we can support our colleagues taking part in Ramadan.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is a month when Muslims do not eat or drink at all during the hours of the day when the sun is up. The fast begins at the break of dawn and concludes with the setting of the sun in the evening.

While refraining from food and drink is the main apparent physical practice of the month, Muslims are encouraged to pray, reflect and reconnect spiritually, improve their morals, give up bad habits, and strengthen relationships with family, friends, and God.

The importance of Ramadan for Muslims.

Ramadan is a special month for Muslims. It’s a time to focus on patience, reflection, and self-improvement. Families gather to break their fast and pray together, while mosques hold social activities and events.

Muslims believe God blesses them even more during this month, calling them towards spiritual growth and moral reformation.

Throughout the month, there’s a positive atmosphere of goodwill and individuals participate in charitable causes and acts of kindness.

When does Ramadan begin?

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, which means the beginning of the month is established based on the birth and sighting of a new moon.

This is why Ramadan is not a set day of the month, but an anticipated date range which changes every year

In 2024, Ramadan will begin either on the 11th or 12th of March depending on the sighting of the moon.

How long is the fasting period?

Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days. As mentioned in the “What is Ramadan” section, the fast begins at the break of dawn until the sun has set. This means the duration of the fast varies as the month progresses.

During Ramadan in the UK, the fasting hours will begin around 4:49 am and end at 6:15 pm. As the month progresses, the hours will progressively shift to start at 4:41 am and end at 8 pm due to daylight saving time.

This, for example, would make the shortest fast around 13.5 hours and the longest fast around 15.5 hours.

Muslims usually eat an earlier breakfast, called “Suhoor”, which is eaten before dawn and then the evening meal, called “Iftar”, after the sun has set.

The last 10 days of Ramadan.

The final 10 days of Ramadan are considered sacred and hold “The Night of Power”.

It’s a night where God multiplies good deeds, and worship performed during this night is considered better than 1,000 months of worship.

Muslims stay awake late during the evenings of these last 10 days, engaging in prayer and self-reflection.

Eid (When does Ramadan End?)

Eid is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims all over the world, which marks the end of Ramadan and the fasting period.

It is a time of joy, feasting, and prayer, where families and communities come together to celebrate the completion of their spiritual journey during Ramadan and to mark a new beginning in their lives.

Additionally, it is a time for giving to those in need and expressing gratitude for the blessings received during the month.

In 2024, Eid is expected to fall on either the 10th or 11th of April.

How does Ramadan impact work life?

Changes in energy levels: Energy levels may fluctuate throughout the day as a colleague isn’t eating or drinking, especially in the first few days as their body and mind try to adjust.

Some have higher energy levels in the morning whilst others may take more time to get up to speed and feel more energetic as the day progresses.

Adjusted sleep patterns: The altered daily schedule also can disrupt individuals’ sleep patterns. Some may be staying up later as they engage in prayer and social activities. Some may be waking up earlier than usual to have their pre-dawn meal.

As a result, colleagues may face challenges in maintaining a normal sleep pattern requiring them to work out an optimal routine to ensure they get adequate rest and perform at their best during the workday.

Change in breaks and meal times: Since a colleague will not be eating during daylight hours, some may prefer to take a shorter lunch break or split up their break into smaller comfort breaks throughout the day. Some may even prefer to work through their lunch break entirely to try to finish a little earlier.

Additionally, a colleague’s decision to join team lunches and other social commitments in the workplace during break times may be impacted.

Tips for supporting colleagues during Ramadan

Before we go into the tips of how colleagues can be supported during the month of Ramadan, it is important to note that everyone has their own personal journey during this month and everyone handles it differently.

While these tips aim to provide a general overview based on the majority preference, it is important to have an open communication channel with colleagues to find a solution that best accommodates their specific needs while minimising disruptions to business operations.

Flexibility: Offering flexibility is probably the most effective way to support colleagues during Ramadan. As we’ve mentioned, there are fluctuations in individuals’ energy levels, an adjusted sleeping pattern, changes in eating times, more spiritual and social commitments and so on. Being open and flexible can go a long way for colleagues during this month. These are some of the ways your organisation may offer flexibility;

Flexible work hours: Consider allowing flexible start and end times for colleagues to accommodate their sleep schedule and fasting routines. You may also consider a shorter work day if a colleague works through their lunch break.

Remote work options: If your processes and workflows allow, consider providing colleagues the opportunity to work remotely allowing them to manage their workloads and schedules more effectively around their adjusted routine.

Adjusted meeting times: Be mindful when scheduling meetings, trying to avoid times that coincide with prayer or meal times. Colleagues may also prefer to batch their meetings either in the earlier or later part of the day.

Additionally, do consider the length of the meetings as it may be draining for colleagues to engage in discussions for longer periods during this time.

Annual leave requests with short notice: Colleagues may require short notice time off for religious observances, especially during the last 10 nights of Ramadan where many will be awake until the early hours of the morning. Some may just require to start later on certain days, but others may request a couple of days off during the 10-day period.

Colleagues may also request time off at short notice for Eid. Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, the specific date for Eid may not be known until the day before. Be flexible here and understand when planning projects and work. This year, it may fall on Wednesday 10th April, or Thursday 11th April.

Creating an accommodating office space: It could be helpful to adjust your physical offices or workspaces to accommodate colleagues who have adjusted eating schedules and prayer commitments. If you don’t already have one, consider designating quiet rooms or areas where colleagues can pray, rest, or recharge during the workday while they are in the office.

Celebrating Ramadan and Eid: By acknowledging Ramadan as an important religious observance, workplaces can demonstrate their commitment to diversity and help promote a sense of belonging among employees of diverse backgrounds.

Organisations can start by raising awareness of the upcoming month of Ramadan by sending out updates in their newsletters and making company announcements.

Members of your team could also get together to put up some Ramadan decorations around the office making it an enjoyable team-building activity.

When Ramadan starts, it is common for Muslims to greet each other with the phrase “Ramadan Mubarak” which means Blessed Ramadan or Happy Ramadan. You may consider extending this greeting to your colleagues if you are comfortable doing so. This can help promote a festive atmosphere for Muslim colleagues.

This also extends to the Eid celebrations at the end of Ramadan where again it is customary to greet each other with “Eid Mubarak”.

You may consider also hosting celebration events for Eid such as meals, games, quizzes and other activities.

Organising Ramadan-friendly activities: Proactively planning Ramadan-friendly activities can be another way of keeping colleagues involved during the holy month.

If your organisation is planning team lunches or dinners during Ramadan, you may consider scheduling these to be after sunset once fasting colleagues can eat and drink.

Some other event ideas can include hosting Iftar gatherings, guided meditations, and yoga sessions. Additionally, organisations can organise volunteering initiatives aligned with Ramadan’s spirit of charity and giving back.

Colleagues may alternatively prefer to spend their evenings with their family and friends, so do remember to check with them before organising events intended to accommodate them.

Understanding practices and sensitivities: Each individual has their own approach towards fasting depending on their culture or environment. Some are more than comfortable discussing their fasting experience, their routines and more details, while others may prefer to keep it private. Some Muslim colleagues may not observe Ramadan altogether.

Communication is key. Fostering open communication and maintaining mutual respect can help navigate any sensitivities effectively.

Colleagues are also encouraged to be mindful of making any assumptions or generalisations about individuals’ practices or preferences related to Ramadan.

While there is an understanding that comments are not intended to be hurtful, some remarks like “I could never do that!” or “Are you really not even allowed to have water?” could come across as patronising to some.

It could be a consideration to give individuals or groups in your organisation the platform to run workshops or small talks to provide an insight into what Ramadan means to them and what the common practices are.

If I am observing Ramadan, how can I request support or resources:  As the world becomes increasingly aware of diverse cultures and backgrounds, your workplace should be also aware of the considerations surrounding religious observances. However, your workplace may not know that you are observing Ramadan and may not be familiar with the practices and customs associated with it. To ensure that your work environment is inclusive, you should speak to your line manager about any adjustments that may need to be made. Additionally, having social conversations with your colleagues and sharing what Ramadan means to you can help raise awareness and understanding, promoting inclusivity in your workplace.


We trust this post has provided helpful insights to organisation leaders, HR teams, and employees on the background of Ramadan, what it entails and how you can support your colleagues who will be fasting during Ramadan.

Remember to actively communicate with your colleagues observing Ramadan over the next couple of weeks to be informed of their specific needs and requirements, if any. Most colleagues are committed to ensuring business operations continue as usual so may not directly reach out to discuss their needs.

While the points outlined in this article cater specifically to Ramadan, demonstrating your commitment to diversity and inclusivity for all colleagues of various backgrounds throughout the year can build appreciation, satisfaction and a sense of belonging in your organisation.