Thursday, July 9, 2015

Work Hours Sensitivity during Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of Hijri/Islamic calendar which is considered to be the holiest month in the year when Muslims worldwide do not eat or drink anything during daylight hours. Ramadan begins on sighting of the moon as per the lunar calendar and ends with the celebration of Eid-Al-Fitr. Fasting is considered to be one of the five pillars of Islam. During the holy month, Muslims give extra emphasis on prayers, spirituality, inner strength and patience.

During this period it is important for colleagues, managers, supervisors and other stakeholders to be sensitive to the requirements of their Muslim colleagues.

Oman Labour Law

Article 68 of the Labour Law of Oman (Royal Decree 35 of 2003, as amended) entitles Muslim employees to work six hours per day or thirty hours per week. The Ministry of Manpower therefore requests that the above requirement is followed and, accordingly, private sector companies notify their Muslim employees about reduced work hours during the month of Ramadan.

It is also important to note that Article 117 of the Labour Law provides for a penalty not exceeding RO 100 for violation of the above provision. The fine shall be multiplied by the number of workers who are subject to such violation and the penalty shall be doubled in case of repetition of such violation.

Policy and Procedure

Employers are advised to bear in mind that Muslims observing the fast have a longer day than usual and some consideration towards them will be well received. It is advisable for employers to have in place a Ramadan policy, which sets out the standard expected of employees. It is usual to ask employees to refrain from consuming food or drinks in communal areas of the workplace out of respect for employees that are fasting. Conversely, employers can assist those employees not observing the fast by putting in place a designated eating area that is screened, as it is against the law for anyone to eat in public during the fasting period each day.