Question about breaking fast during Ramadan

Hi all, I have been sent a concern over enabling our colleagues who are observing Ramadan and fasting, to be able to break their fast at precisely the moment the sun sets.  In context, they are in a factory and have at least two breaks per shift, but we do not currently expressly allow a break at exactly sunset for the purpose of breaking fast.  

I understand that those observing the need to fast should not break their fast until the sun has set, but I can't find any information to say it should be broken exactly at sunset, or whether it's ok to do so at some point later, as long as it's after sunset.  (Apart of course that people are likely to want to eat as soon as they are able!)  

We would like naturally to enable people to follow their religious principles and are just wondering if we are denying something fundamental within fasting, or whether it is a matter of choice and opportunity when people eat again in the evening.

Thank you


  • I guess it is about hunger and the employer being flexible where possible
  • I would ask the colleagues but my understanding is its not obligatory to break the fast at the exact point of sundown but it is considered  to be in touch with ones spiritual self to break the fast as quickly as possible (as the Prophet did) ....Also if I hadn't eaten for 15 hours + I would be pretty keen to and it seems reasonable to accommodate if I could

    From an employment perspective you might also like to consider your H&S obligations of not allowing them to break the fast (especially if there next natural break is several hours later)

    It might be a great opportunity to explore some D&I issues and education around the role of fasting, its purpose and its impact

  • In reply to Keith:

    Thanks, and to be clear, it's not about "not allowing them to break the fast", sunset is happening for the next few days at almost 9pm, and the latest the shift ends is 10pm, sometimes ending before. So the worst case is that they've already had their breaks before sunset and need to wait until 10pm when they finish work.
  • In reply to Annabel:

    Sorry it is in effect not allowing them to break the fast as soon after sunset as possible - as you are making them wait an hour or more - you have reasons for that but you are still stopping them. As we saw with the footballer recently it is possible to break a fast relatively easily without huge disruption. . Breaking the fast can be as simple (and often is) as taking a few dates and some water...

  • I would consult with the employees, but if there is any way of allowing them a ten- fifteen minute break to have a hot sweet drink and some dates or other food and pray at sunset then I would arrange that if possible. They will be very hungry and some may presumably need to drive home. If its just not practical then it's not but it would be worth seeing what they suggest and whether that would be workable.
  • To add to other colleagues' excellent advice, it's also worth remembering that many Muslims are much more than usually observant around the 5 daily prayer times during Ramadan, and the Maghrib prayer falls at sunset - spiritually, praying and breaking the fast is very important to many Muslims
  • In reply to Emily:

    Thank you all for your advice, we will do things a bit differently for the next few days.
  • Muslims must break as fast as the sunsets, they can do this by having water or dates. can the organisation not adapt the break to allow people to eat and pray and then get back to work? I also think, organisation's need to understand what they're staff would suggest too, this will help them feel inclusive
  • Hi I am a Muslim and yes we do have to break our fast at Sunset and NOT anytime after. As employer we also have a duty of care, our people have been without food and drink all day, the least we can do is give them 5 mins to get something to eat and drink.
  • In reply to Nahida:

    Thank you Nahida, and as I mentioned, we are doing things a bit differently now until the end of Ramadan to enable people to get a break at sunset.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    10 May, 2021 10:30

    In reply to Nahida:

    Thanks for posting, Nahida. Really important to get this perspective.
  • Hi Annabel

    As a HR professional and someone that practices the faith, I can confirm that the fast should be broken at the time of sunset. The time changes each day, and gets later towards the end of Ramadan. Sometimes it is not always possible to break my fast on time should I be elsewhere, so I will carry dates and water with me to break my fast as soon as possible. Also, usually when we break out fast, we have to do our magrib prayer within a specific time frame and not delay it.

    I would recommend having a conversation with the workers and asking them what is appropriate for them. As they are fasting, you could recommend two short breaks ie. a break midway through shift and another one to break their fast. So that it breaks up their day and they feel energised. That way you are also managing service delivery etc.
    Alternatively alter their working pattern ie. later start time to shift.

    Fasting is exhausting in general as we have to wake up before sunrise and eat something, then fast until sunset. And yes the hunger kicks in.

    I hope that helps
  • In reply to Sayma:

    Hi Sayma, thank you, that's very interesting. As I've said a couple of times though, we did change things to enable people to have a break at sunset. Many thanks.
  • I have nothing to add here, but I just wanted to say thank you for posting this question as I learnt a lot from reading the post and the replies.
  • In reply to Katy:

    Thanks Katy!