With the holy month of Ramadan well underway, many Muslim employees are maintaining a strict fast. For HR professionals, it is considerate to create policies that enable them flexibility while giving enough room to remain productive.
To gauge industry practice, Human Resources and Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) reached out to employers across Asia, for examples on how they are celebrating Ramadan across their workforces.
All Muslim staff can go off half an hour earlier from work during the month of Ramadan, subject to the operational needs of their departments. Says Wong Keng Fye, head of human capital, Maybank Singapore: "Being a pro-employee organisation, we want to show our support for our Muslim colleagues as they fast from dawn till sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. There has not been any issue work-wise as productivity has not been impacted."
Additionally, if the eve of Hari Raya Puasa falls on a weekday, Muslim colleagues may leave the office half a day earlier. This similarly applies to relevant colleagues for the eve of different cultural public holidays, as well as for Christmas and New Year.
Ramada and Days Hotels Singapore
Specially prepared Sahur is provided at the hotel's private dining lounge for the approximately 25% of the Muslim workforce on its rolls. All associates are sent a notice to avoid Sahur and Iftar timing for breakfast in order to give priority to fasting employees.
Comprising a breakfast menu of dates and soft-diet, special items are added to the standard dinner menu during Iftar, such as bandung and a variety of “kueh” daily. Additionally, a festive menu is prepared on Hari Raya for both Muslim and non-Muslim employees to partake.
A flexible approach is taken for work arrangements during this time, for Muslim employees to be available during Sahur or Iftar, and they are encouraged to use the prayer room typically allocated for external clients.
GM Patrick Fiat, celebrates Hari Raya with the Housekeeping team
Mini-competitions for bonding activities and festive decorations, such as the recent Hari Raya department decorations, are also held across departments to create excitement and memorable moments for talents.
Fiat shares about work arrangements for Ramadan: "Half day off-in-lieu for the eve of Hari Raya is provided for management as well as junior talent. All Muslim talents have a half day off on the eve of Hari Raya. For talents working in the operations side and having shift hours, they can claim the off-in-lieu within two months."
As a multi-racial and multi-religious society, Singapore’s workforce is inherently diverse. "With such workforce diversity, it is also important for organisations to put in place practices and policies to build an inclusive and harmonious workplace," notes Roslyn Ten, general manager of TAFEP.
Pointing out that festive occasions can be a way to engage employees and strengthen ties between people of different cultures, Ten shares that TAFEP will be having a lunch get-together next week to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri, where staff are encouraged to dress in traditional Malay costumes.
TAFEP encourages organisations to be more accommodating towards employees who request for flexible work arrangements during the festive period. "An example would be Muslim employees requesting to vary their daily start and end times during Ramadan so that they can be home to break fast with their family," explains Ten. "Employers who are understanding and open to hearing their employees' needs will be one step closer to creating an inclusive workplace and this is the key to business success."
Photos / Provided