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Praying during work hours


KIKPOP99
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Hi

 

We have a Muslim staff member that used to pray during her lunch break (which raised no concerns or issues) but she has now told us that at various times of the year the prayer times change so she will need to pray during her work hours (around 1500-1600). This means that we have to potentially find alternative cover while she prays. Also, she prays in the baby cot room whilst some babies are sleeping, but children from the adjoining room see her praying and there may be a possibility that they tell their parents and we may be quizzed over this.

 

This is clearly a sensitive issue and we want to be as accommodating as possible. Has any other nursery has had a request from a staff member to pray during work hours and if so, how have you dealt with the request? Do any of you have a dedicated prayer room?

 

Thanks

Sat

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We have lots of Muslim staff, and I haven't encountered this.

 

We have a quiet room for use at lunchtime which is away from children, and this does get used, especially during Ramadan and on Fridays. During Ramadan some staff break their fast during the evening but this is 'on the go', just a date or a small snack and a private silent prayer.

 

Hope you manage to resolve it.

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Thanks for your input guys.

 

I haven't yet managed to find another nursery that has been faced with this issue. The last thing we want is to be perceived as being discriminatory, so we have to make sure we get this right. I believe around 9 months of the year we'll be fine as we will provide her a suitable lunch hour when she can pray and as she has a whole hour she has been going to a local relative to do her prayers and have her lunch. However, for about 3 months of the year she will need to pray for about 10 mins some time during 1500-1600. We have so little space in the building. If I had space to make a prayer room, I'd probably use it to put all the pushchairs and scooters that are parked in my office! (The buggy area is always overflowing!). Anyway, we have asked for advice from other professional bodies, so I'm sure we'll be finding a solution soon!

 

Sat

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We had a muslim lady once who needed to pray during work hours during Ramadan. She used to go into the office for 10 minutes and we'd leave her to it. Wasn't a problem at all, and was very important to her to do this. She didn't need a 'prayer room', just a private space where she could pray in peace.

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Thanks HiA

 

We have a staff room where she is welcome to pray for as long as she wants during her lunch hour. I guess the bottom line is we are looking for views and comments on the following: -

 

Should we allow her to pray: -

 

1. During work hours for 10 mins a day and

2. In the cot room where other children will see her.

 

To be honest, the manager and nursery owner have differing views, and what is why I am seeking more opinions from all of you.

 

We have considered giving her the office to pray for 10 mins but it is used very regularly and it does not seem right that managerial space should be compromised, particularly if there is an urgent matter to be dealt with. In fact, we have a Hindu staff member that uses the staff room to pray on a daily basis. She is vegetarian but does not object to other staff eating meat in the room and chatting away whilst she is praying for up to 30 mins a day. Her religious requirements do not demand personal space or a specific time for prayers so we have no concerns.

 

Thanks

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Hello, this is quite an interesting discussion. In answer to your questions:

1: I can't see a problem with allowing her to, but I don't think you have any legal obligation to do so. I personally would allow her to (I wouldn't even be considering it), and if cover is required I'm sure someone who isn't hands-on (the manager for example) could spare 10 minutes. I'm sure most managers would quite like the 10 minutes away from a desk and engaging with the children! That being said, I would make it clear that if for any reason her presence is absolutely required, she must wait until she can be relieved (CP comes before religion) - check legality. Ratio wise, you won't have any problems as she is still in the building and the statutory framework easily allows for a member of staff to be in a seperate room for 10 minutes (especially if in the cot room where, for her, children are still within sight and hearing) - at line manager's discretion of course.

2: I'm not sure I understand why this might be a problem? Sounds like a great learning opportunity for children. Why would parents asking about it be an issue?

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In particular, I am aware this forum is mainly for management but I would would be keen to hear from other Muslim staff that pray or wish to pray during work hours.

 

1. Have you been denied the right to pray when you want or where you want? or

2. Have management been accommodating and provided you with a suitable place to pray whatever the time of day?

3. Have you decided to forgo the praying at the appropriate time as you feel it could be imposing?

 

Thanks again.

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Rob

 

Thanks for your input. You'll be happy to know I share your sentiments entirely! I agree that she is only peacefully practising her religion so it should not be a problem if other children see her. After all, it will only widen their knowledge of the multicultural world we live in! However, there are concerns that if parents were to find out about this they may be concerned that childcare is being neglected. Also, there are concerns that parents from other religions may not be happy.

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Exactly! A lot of children have probably never seen anyone pray, let alone someone from a religion that isn't Christianity (depending on the demographics of your children of course). I'm quite sure that the majority of the families I work with do not pray. I'm fairly far from religious myself, but it's an important part of society and seeing it in action is likely an enriching experience for children.

To be honest I would take both those concerns on board but they wouldn't concern me personally or impact on my decision. For the first one, the children will be under constant care and supervision from other adults and the person praying is still very closeby. Further, it's not all that different from someone going to the toilet. Just reassure anyone that asks that it causes no detriment to the care and education of any child attending and mention any precautions taken (such as the manager covering). As for people of other religions, I would stress that the setting is inclusive for people of all beliefs and makes all reasonable adjustments to facilitate that, including the dietary requirements of children and time for staff members to pray. If they really are upset by this (seems unlikely) then it may take a full discussion, but I would never back down on it.

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Yes I too would 'allow' this ....in fact I suspect you may be considered as being discriminatory if you do not. She is on site so no problem with ratios. I don't think the babies will mind! and as others have said the other children may notice and a few may be fascinated. I would use it as a learning opportunity and embrace her commitment....I'm sure she might feel very worried about what others might think and therefore presenting a positive front may be rather comforting to her which would be personable!

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In particular, I am aware this forum is mainly for management

 

Hi Kikpop

The forum is for anyone working or with an interest in early years, not just managers. It's a great place to share views, debate, support and laugh! :1b

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OK - I completely agree it is appropriate to accommodate this member of staff's religious needs as far as is practicably possible, particularly as they are a daily requirement, but can I ask - how do other religions get accommodated, such as Catholics going to mass on holy days of obligation or Jewish staff at Passover or Hindu staff at Diwali? Do settings operate a staff religious needs policy?? Do staff have to take leave to do this or is this also acommodated?

I'm really curious how this is managed in settings.

Cx

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OK - I completely agree it is appropriate to accommodate this member of staff's religious needs as far as is practicably possible, particularly as they are a daily requirement, but can I ask - how do other religions get accommodated, such as Catholics going to mass on holy days of obligation or Jewish staff at Passover or Hindu staff at Diwali? Do settings operate a staff religious needs policy?? Do staff have to take leave to do this or is this also acommodated?

I'm really curious how this is managed in settings.

Cx

We've got 2 Sikh colleagues and one of them has swapped a day this week so she can go to the temple for a special day (she didn't give me any more details than that!) and the other has asked if she can have a day off next year for a special service. Of course, no problem, just remind me nearer the time so we can make sure we have enough staff.

 

Our leave policy is that as a term time only setting, we expect staff to take holiday in school holiday time, but we will do our best to accommodate time off for appointments that can't be made outside of school hours (eg hospital appointments), school visits etc. Any requests for time off for religious services fall under that umbrella, though as I'm reflecting on it, we don't specifically state that in the policy. Yet.

 

We've had a Jain lady in the past who didn't join in Christmas songs or come in for the Christmas show - at the time we also had a child who was a Jehovah's Witness, so they sat together and shared books while everyone else was singing the Christmas songs.

 

We don't have a separate staff room, staff use our lobby area for lunch breaks and could use that for prayer, or the office has blinds that could be closed if they needed to be private. Either of them are fairly high traffic areas, but we're a small preschool with 1 playroom with a kitchen off of it but not closed off, the office and lobby, the children's loos and a wheelchair accessible/staff loo/nappy changing area, so there's not much choice. Oh, we've got a garden as well, but that's overlooked immediately by the primary school playing field and more distantly by a busy road.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello,

 

This is a really interesting discussion.

 

Do any of you have any staff members that are fasting at the moment? Are they maintaining their energy levels by taking part in less energetic activities?

 

How do you support them?

 

:)

Edited by pickles37
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interesting discussion here.

 

i can talk from my own personal experience of being a muslim and praying /fasting while working :)

 

prayer only takes about 10 minutes and usually management can cover for that time. I usually pray in the office or staff room -somewhere where i am not in the way and i let anyone whose in the room know if its ok that i pray there. people are usually fine with it. some children ask what im doing and i tell them-opens up a discussion. ive had a little boy ask about my headscarf and then came in a few days later to tell me how he tried to wrap one on his head at home :). we are inclusive, our settings should respect and promote diversity and have open communciation between all, children, parents and staff.

 

as for the fasting, its not so bad, colleagues are aware and offer support by switching activities that are more strenuous like being outside for too long etc

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