Can the Employer Force Employee to Clear Leave?

Can the employer force the employee to clear annual leave during economic downturn and during the plant shut down?

Employer cannot force employee to go for annual leave during resignation notice period, as stated by Ministry of Manpower: "As the notice period is meant to be served, the employer cannot force his employee to go on leave during the period of notice, unless the employee consents to it. Any unconsumed annual leave can be encashed by the employee. "

However, due to whatsoever reason, employer may need to change the company working day or to declare non-working day, in actual fact, they are not forcing annual leave, but to change the working days.

Many employers shorten the working days from 5 days week to 4 days week, they have the right to do so as the company may not operate on that day. Due to plant shutdown, the employer can choose to clear their annual leave or to take the unpaid leave if all leave has been consumed.

However, I would suggest that proper communication is very important. The employees shall be informed the reason of the company decision, and they should be informed as earlier as possible so the employee can plan for their annual leave.

Employee will understand and agree with the arrangement if the employer explain the difficulties and reasons on such decisions. Employee should also think from the angle that at least they can still keep their job.