The Muslim holy month of Ramadan drew to a close last Friday when observers broke their fast on Eid-ul-Fitr, a three-day-long period of prayers and festivities. But while the Islamic world allows time off for the entirety of Eid and shortened work hours throughout Ramadan, the roughly 120,000 Muslims here in the United States enjoy no government-sanctioned holiday time. This means small businesses have had to create their own makeshift policies.
"Employers need to trust that Ramadan is not a license to be lazy," says Lana Taha, management analyst at the Islamic Society of Boston. "Give your Muslim workers some flexibility in work hours, and the courtesy to pray throughout the work day."
Adnane Ettayebi, who manages a team of 75 translators as the owner of Globe Translators and Interpreters, lets his roughly 20 Muslim employees leave by 2 p.m. during Ramadan so that they can prepare for the daily breaking-of-the-fast at sunset. That policy mimics what happens in much of the Islamic world: In Bahrain the law allows traditional 9-to-5 workers to quit after six hours; businesses in Kuwait open their doors later, at 10 a.m., and closer earlier, at 3 p.m.; Doha finishes its day at 2 p.m.; and Dubai lets its governmental sectors modify their work hours as they please.
"A lot of them work from home so that they can work at night; we just rotate the schedule and their workload stays exactly the same," says Ettayebi, who offers the same flexibility to all of his employees. "Business is business. Ramadan or not, I want my employees working when they're most productive." (MORE)