The annual fast for Muslims has begun.

During Ramadan it is not allowed to eat or drink between sunrise and sunset, and that can take some getting used to during work.

What do fasting workers encounter?

And as a non-fasting colleague, can you help them in this challenging time?

Workers who participate in the fasting period usually do not eat or drink at all during the day.

Of the more than 900,000 Muslims in the Netherlands, the lion's share is participating, expects company doctor and also experience expert Ufuk Demirtas.

What does not eating and sleeping significantly less mean for work performance?

Demirtas: "During such a fast, Muslims get up early, even before sunrise, to take in moisture and eat a nutritious meal. Usually something with carbohydrates, such as sandwiches."

The well-known four-hour dip can start a lot earlier than normal for fasters.

"Especially in the beginning it really takes some getting used to. You can experience hunger pangs and fatigue. Moreover, your sugar level is confused in the beginning. Characteristic of the first period is headache."

Ramadan was a strange concept for many employers

Sometimes this manifests itself in mild concentration problems or a lack of energy.

Especially people who do physically demanding work experience the latter very strongly.

How people respond to this depends on the working environment, according to Demirtas.

"In construction, where there is sometimes talk of 'cock behavior', jokes are sometimes made. Like: Ali, you can't do this at all, boy! My experience is that people always admire fasting colleagues."

"We notice that employers are now increasingly taking into account the fasting period and the influence on health."

Piet Fortuin, chairman of the CNV

Although not everyone knows exactly what colleagues experience, organizations are increasingly taking Ramadan into account.

That is the cautious conclusion of the CNV union.

"Employees are reporting less and less of employers who do not want to cooperate, says CNV chairman Piet Fortuin." We receive signals from employees every year, but compared to ten years ago there are far fewer. "

Ten years ago, Ramadan was still a strange concept for many employers, says Fortuin.

"But we notice that employers are now increasingly taking into account the fasting period and the effect on health. However, people who adhere to Ramadan sometimes find it difficult to tell them that they are participating."

Helping people with physically demanding tasks

Both the unions and company doctor Demirtas advise workers to talk to colleagues.

Fortuin: "Certainly if a lot of work is done in groups, it is useful to map out for yourself: who is participating and who is not? Then you, as a colleague, immediately know why someone does or does not have lunch."

Particularly in a factory environment or in construction, it can be collegial, according to Demirtas, to approach steadfastly.

"You can help people with physically demanding tasks."

Non-fasting co-workers don't have to worry too much about potential loss of productivity.

"Ramadan is above all a meaningful period. People want to become aware of everything they have, and feel connected with poor, hungry people all over the world. That often provides motivation, also at work."