Bosses urged to put away biscuits during Ramadan

Employers have been advised to keep biscuits out of meetings and rearrange working hours during the Muslim festival of Ramadan, which began this weekend.

The suggestions came from members of the Employers Forum on Belief (EFB) in an article for Personnel Today.

The EFB says public bodies in particular should be studying religious practices in preparation for the new Equality Bill.

An EFB spokesman said: “The more employers can do now to understand religious events and activities, the better they will be prepared”.

The Bill will force public bodies to ‘promote equality’ across various grounds including religion, although there are concerns that Christianity could be left at the bottom of the pile.

A number of Christians employed in the public sector have recently been either fired or disciplined for expressing their faith at work.

However, contributors to the Personnel Today article have encouraged employers to find ways of accommodating Ramadan in preparation for the Equality Bill.

Graham White, Human Resources Director at Westminster City Council, said: “They should already be making efforts to communicate to staff about the different types of events occurring throughout the year so participating employees feel comfortable requesting time off”.

Mr White said the Council had developed special spaces in their buildings for “meditation, prayer and religious observance” in preparation for Ramadan.

EFB Campaign Director Rachel Krys also suggested: “Something as simple as not having biscuits at a team meeting would demonstrate sensitivity to what your Muslim colleagues are doing.”

Jo Barclay of the Co-operative Group, a founding EFB member, said: “Productivity may drop during the month of Ramadan as participating Muslims are not getting any fuel.

“Our managers may therefore encourage those workers not to organise meetings past 3pm, or to leave earlier where possible.”

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