Passover and Ramadan in the workplace
By Tamara Schindler on Tuesday, 19 April 2022
Across the UK, thousands of Muslims have been fasting during daytimes from the beginning of April until the beginning of May to mark Ramadan. Those that can, stay up some portion of the night in worship - with many doing it alongside their job, including some of our colleagues at Teamspirit.
Not only that, but Easter weekend also marked the beginning of Passover, a major Jewish festival that lasts 8 days.
We spoke to our Jewish and Muslim colleagues on ways in which we can support and be considerate of their practices over the coming weeks.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to continue life as normal, with our families and work, but refrain from eating, drinking, sexual relations, anger etc during the daylight hours. This year, Ramadan sits during the Spring months – where the days are getting longer (more hours of fasting) and the weather warmer (more difficult to refrain from drinking in particular).
Here are some useful tips on how to respect and be considerate of Muslim colleagues who are fasting this month:
• Plan in advance for holidays: Many will book holidays over this period to focus on the fast and take a break from balancing this with work. Remember to plan any handovers in advance
• Remembering our hybrid world: Our hybrid working world allows for us to work both from home and in the office. During this month, remember that those continuing to hybrid work might leave the office early to prepare for sundown, or may be unavailable at specific times due to travel, rest or prayer time
• Respect flexibility: Colleagues may be adjusting their working pattern - starting work earlier, finishing earlier or taking larger gaps during the afternoon. Be flexible when putting in meetings, and always double check before putting an invite in their calendar
• Lunchtime is hard! Be considerate that, although you may be taking a lunch break, this may be a particularly challenging time in the day for those fasting. Consider not eating food at your desk (if sitting next to someone fasting) or taking food and snacks in communal areas with lots of space
• Be patient: Some may not have the usual energy or attentiveness usually displayed during normal days of the year – be patient, considerate and aware of that, especially during particularly difficult times (e.g., lunchtime, sunny days).
Passover itself is all about redemption, and during this period Jews refrain from eating any foods with yeast or ‘leavened’ products, with many households replacing their entire kitchen contents with a secondary set of food, drink, and even cutlery and crockery.
Some tips to support those observing Passover:
• Respect diversity: Many Jews will treat this festival differently, and there are varying levels of observance – some Jews are ‘stricter’ than others in how they observe the festival. You may not always understand it (as the rules are extremely complicated!) but be aware that observances may vary between one colleague and another
• Avoid sharing snacks: Most crisps/biscuits aren’t officially ‘Kosher for Passover’ - some people may be happy to eat them, but many will bring in their own lunch and snacks during this period.
• Be flexible around the holier days: The first and last two days are the key dates of this festival. Luckily, these days fall on weekends this year but be aware that many might be working from home to ‘change over’ (like spring cleaning – some will spend time ridding their homes of leavened products, or ‘chametz’) and prepare for the Seder (a dinner that takes place on the first 2 nights). Same for the last two days - Jews may leave early on Friday to ‘change back’ (i.e., bring leavened products back into the house) or break Pesach with their family (likely digging into a big pizza!).
And if there is anything you would like to know, ask questions! If you’re unsure how best to respect your colleagues, don’t be afraid to ask them. One of Teamspirit’s core values is our curiosity, and that extends beyond the workplace and into our beliefs too.
We hope you found this an interesting and gained some useful insight into our ways of working – Chag Sameach and Ramadan Mubarak!