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Pesach/Passover (Jewish)

What is Passover?

In Jewish tradition, Passover celebrates God's liberation of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt over 3,300 years ago. It is one of the most widely observed Jewish festivals.

When is Passover?

Passover is tied into the Jewish calendar but typically takes place in March or April, beginning at sunset on Friday 19 April - Saturday 27 April 2019. It lasts for 7 or 8 days depending on the Jewish movement concerned.

What do people do during Passover?

Practices and observances throughout Passover vary according to the branch of Judaism concerned, and the beliefs of the individual.

Some Jews may wish to observe the Passover by not working on the first, second, seventh and eighth days of Passover.

Passover usually involves avoiding 'chametz', typically wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats that have not been cooked within 18 minutes after first coming into contact with water.

Jewish people may also use Passover to observe their religion in more depth around this time (for example by attending temple services).

Key workplace considerations

  • Jewish observances start at sunset of the previous day, meaning that some flexibility to start and leave work a little earlier may be appreciated by employees who may typically work hours close to sunset. 
  • Employees may ask for additional leave for religious reasons. There is no legal requirement to accommodate requests but planning ahead can help and may be met through flexible working arrangements, annual leave or unpaid leave. It is generally unadvisable to offer paid special leave for such time off requests because an employer needs to ensure they do not discriminate in favour of a particular religion. 
  • In certain years, a considerable portion of annual leave may be used by employees wishing to observe the 'no work' rules of some Jewish holidays. Where the leave timings can be accommodated, it is also important to ensure an employee has adequate leave days available for these needs. 
  • Awareness and understanding of Passover and other religious festivals can be aided by posting information on staff notice boards or newsletters etc. 
  • Passover may offer an opportunity for closer team relations and teamwork - for example by raising awareness of avoiding chametz at a catered team event.