The following update has been received from Sandy Adirondack, voluntary sector legal expert – www.sandy-a.co.uk
Supporting Muslim Colleagues During Ramadan
Direct discrimination on the basis of religion or philosophical belief occurs where a person is treated less favourably in any aspect of religion or belief, and such treatment is not allowed under the genuine occupational requirement or positive action provisions. Indirect discrimination basically involves applying a requirement or practice that is not a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”, and puts people of a particular group at a disadvantage because they disproportionately cannot comply with it.
But the importance of good practice outweighs the risk of a potential discrimination claim. For example during Ramadan, a month-long observance which begins this evening (16 May) when Muslims fast from dawn until dish, and other holidays when people of specific religious groups are required to fast, an employer might consider allowing several short breaks during the day rather than an extended lunch hour, and allowing flexible hours so workers’ arrival or departure times can suit the periods of fasting. Employers are not obliged to make arrangements such as this, but where it is reasonable to do so, they should discuss such changes with affected workers, and make changes if possible.
For those who are not familiar with Ramadan and its traditions, or who may be familiar with it but want to provide the most pleasant and supportive working environment for Muslim colleagues, the following may be helpful.
- “Supporting Muslim colleagues during Ramadan, Trades Union Congress, 14 May 2018: https://www.tuc.org.uk/blogs/supporting-muslim-colleagues-during-ramadan.
- “Ramadan 101: What NOT to say to your Muslim co-worker when they are fasting”, blogpost by Sami Rahman, 16 May 2018: https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/blog/2018/5/16/what-not-to-say-to-muslim-co-workers-during-ramadan.
- “Annoying questions people ask Muslims every single year about fasting”, The Independent, 16 May 2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ramadan-2018-annoying-fasting-questions-muslims-islam-a8353766.html
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