Ramadan at work: what are the rights of Muslim employees who practice fasting?

Man Sitting Near the Window

Menses-Ramadan 2019 is scheduled to start this Sunday, May 5 or Monday, May 6 in France. It will last until the beginning. It is not always easy, for those who follow it, to reconcile fasting and office life. Inès Dauvergne, head of expertise diversity within the network "IMS-Entreprendre pour la cité", gave an update.

Is there a provision in the law for the adjustment of working time for people who do Ramadan? 

Inès Dauvergne: no, the only right that applies is the right not to be discriminated against. In concrete terms, your boss cannot fire you or put you on forced leave because you are doing Ramadan. But apart from that, in labour law, there is no special provision for adjusting the working time of people who observe the fast. The employee cannot demand, for example, to arrive or leave an hour earlier than usual.

So there is no room for the employee? 

Inès Dauvergne: in practice, this situation is handled on a case-by-case basis. In summer, the days are longer and fasting is more difficult, so the question of working time arrangements is more important. Most often, in fact, employers do. But there are areas where negotiation is unnecessary. This is the case with shift work, such as call centres, for example, where working hours are collective. In this area, there is no development for anyone.

What to do if the employer refuses? 

Inès Dauvergne: Unfortunately, if the employee is refused a working time arrangement to follow Ramadan, he cannot benefit from any recourse, unless he can demonstrate unequal treatment. For example, if he should be the only one among his colleagues who fasts, he should not be able to benefit from an arrangement. But as a general rule, I advise focussing on the area of negotiation.