Is Moving Around at Work Between Tasks Allowed?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Abdullah Anik Misra

Question

There’s a guy who has an eight-hour job, but he often doesn’t get to have any work, and he can’t sit in one place for that long (sitting in one place for that long causes frustration and exhaustion). 

Can he move around in the office corridor if there’s nothing to do? His supervisor doesn’t stop him from doing so either.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

The basis of getting paid for time-based work is that an employee presents themselves to work and can do work, regardless of how much they get done. It is often not intended that one has to spend every second of the workday at the desk, given the human need to stretch, use the restroom, or take a break periodically – within reason, of course. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

A straightforward way to gauge if one is allowed to get up and move around in between work tasks is to look around at their environment and see what is customarily expected of someone in their type of work by observing their colleagues and superiors, on condition that they are not breaking the rules themselves. This may depend on their job type and requirements.

Once nothing is explicitly stipulated in one’s job description, contract, directives, nor understood by context or custom, it would typically be acceptable in most lines of work to stretch or shift around in between tasks within reason, once it does not hinder one’s overall work or agreement, especially if there is no active work available to do as you said. This goes back to custom and what your employer is okay with. [Majallat al-Ahkam al-Adaliyya, Section 175]

If one’s supervisor is okay with this, they can do this because they are supposed to listen to their immediate superior. This could change depending on one’s role or company needs, so don’t be afraid to ask if unsure.

[Shaykh] Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdullah Anik Misra was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1983. His family hails from India, and he was raised in the Hindu tradition. He embraced Islam in 2001 while at the University of Toronto, from where he completed a Bachelor of Business Administration. He then traveled overseas in 2005 to study the Arabic language and Islamic sciences in Tarim, Yemen, for some time, as well as Darul Uloom in Trinidad, West Indies. He spent 12 years in Amman, Jordan, where he focused on Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith Sciences, Prophetic Biography, and Islamic Spirituality while also working at the Qasid Arabic Institute as Director of Programs. He holds a BA in Islamic Studies (Alimiyya, Darul Uloom) and authorization in the six authentic books of Hadith and is currently pursuing specialized training in issuing Islamic legal verdicts (ifta’). He holds a certificate in Counselling and often works with new Muslims and those struggling with religious OCD. He is an instructor and researcher in Sacred Law and Theology with the Seekers Guidance, The Global Islamic Seminary. Currently, He resides in the Greater Toronto Area with his wife and children. His personal interests include Indian history, comparative religion, English singing, and poetry.