Working during Ramadan


For most Islamic countries, Friday April 24th will be the first day of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan will last for 28 days, though the exact start and end dates in some countries is dependent on sightings on the moon.

During Ramadan Muslims will fast from dawn until dusk, pray and give to charity. Its observance is a fundamental part of the Islamic faith. Exemptions are made for the sick, children, the elderly and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

The start of Ramadan moves forward in the western calendar by about 12 days every year. Currently, in the northern hemisphere, Ramadan takes place in the summer and covers the period when the daylight is at a maximum.

This means that means that the daily fasting period is at its peak, so please be considerate when working with employees or dealing with clients and customers who are observing Ramadan.

This year, the fasting period will overlap with the lockdown and social distancing restrictions that are active in many countries to stop the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions won’t affect the individual fasting, but a key part of Ramadan is the khutbah, the sermon given before the congregational Friday prayers. Many mosques are live-streaming their services to avoid the need for worshippers to come to the mosque in person. Read more about these measures in our ‘Home for the Holidays‘ post.

We suggest the following:

  • Scheduling meetings in the morning rather than the late afternoon;
  • Avoiding long workshops;
  • Allowing employees short breaks during the day;
  • Allowing more flexible work practices such as starting and leaving earlier.

Working during Ramadan in Kuwait

Under Labour Law, the normal 48 hours per week (based on a six day week) limit for all workers is reduced to 36 hours per week during the month of Ramadan.

Working during Ramadan in Malaysia

The first day of Ramadan is a public holiday in the states of Malacca, Johor and Kedah. Most offices will close at least an hour early during the month and there is often very heavy traffic on the roads as everyone heads home to prepare for the day’s breaking of fast (iftar).

Working during Ramadan in Oman

In a statement issued online by Oman News Agency in April 2020, it was outlined that the official working hours for ministries, public bodies, and other “units of the state’s administrative apparatus” during Ramadan will be from 9:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m.

Working during Ramadan in the United Arab Emirates

Under Labour Law, working hours are reduced by two hours each working day during the month of Ramadan. The two hours can be reduced from any part of the normal working hours and apply to all employees, irrespective if they are Muslim or non-Muslim.

The end of Ramadan

The end of Ramadan is marked with the festival of Eid ul-Fitr. This is a widely observed public holiday in many Islamic countries. It may also mean that non-Islamic countries with large Islamic populations may receive a lot of requests for leave on Eid, so employers should be prepared on how to deal with these requests.

As a helpful guide, on our country calendars for countries that have large working populations observing Ramadan, there is a notice reminding you that Ramadan is currently in effect.