Special rules for Dutch Muslim employees during Ramadan?

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Headaches, exhaustion and loss of concentration. Problems that nearly 80 percent of working Muslims in the Netherlands say they suffer from during the holy month of Ramadan. A Dutch trade union group is calling on employers to make special agreements with their Muslim employees for the holy month of fasting.  

Ramadan has begun, meaning observant Muslims will neither eat nor drink between sunrise and sunset. It’s not always an easy period for working Dutch Muslims. It can be a challenge to put in a long day at work without food or drink while it’s business as usual for your mostly non-Islamic colleagues who will be making the same demands of you.  

A survey carried out by the youth wing of the FNV trade union federation found that most Muslims would appreciate being able to make alternative working arrangements with their employers.  But virtually none of them bring up the issue because they’re worried about discrimination or even that they’ll be putting their jobs at risk. Chairperson Ijmert Muilwijk stresses that this is not about Muslims getting extra days off work, but about obliging employers to offer solutions such as flexible working hours, adjusted rosters or the chance to take holiday days.

The proposal has led to a heated debate on internet. Critics posting on the news site Powned say it’s up to Muslims to solve their own problems without causing problems for others. “Just cut salaries by half for the month.  Adjust the pay to fit the performance!”  is one comment.