Friday, 4 September 2009

Ramadan: A Guide for NHS staff

Excerpts from a leaflet the NHS are sending out to all its employees on how they should observe Ramadan, or if not Muslim then how they should react to Ramadan….

These notes are intended for all staff. It is intended to increase understanding about the month of Ramadan and offers advice on how to be supportive of colleagues and service users.

The end of Ramadan is celebrated with Eid-ul-Fitr on the first day of the tenth month of the Islamic calendar Shawwal (on or around Saturday 19th September 2009).

During Ramadan Muslims will get up before dawn for a meal called "suhur". When the sun goes down, most Muslims will ‘break’ the fast with either dates or water. This will be followed by a meal called “iftar”. During Ramadan iftar is an occasion for family, friends and community get together. This year Ramadan falls when days are longer, this means a longer fast than in the past few years so there may be more consideration needed. The fast will open at approximately 4am and closes at approximately 8.30pm, this means that fasting Muslims will not eat or drink for this period and will only eat outside these hours.

The fasting combined with disturbances in normal sleep pattern can leave individuals feeling a little more tired than normal, particularly towards the end of the day.

All Muslims fast except:

Children, adults who are unwell or travelling long distances, women who are menstruating, pregnant, have given birth, or breast feeding.

Muslim staff may need agreement to requests for flexibility in the working day during Ramadan and although there is no formal right to time off for religious activity we would encourage managers and staff to discuss this openly to agree how they can be supported without impacting on service delivery; through flexibility in working patterns, start/finish times, lunch breaks etc.

It is important to avoid holding events, such as staff meals or away days, during Ramadan if you have Muslim staff. If it is unavoidable please do not be offended if Muslim staff members are unable to participate.

It is not necessary for individuals that are not fasting to abstain from eating or drinking in the presence of Muslims that are fasting.

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