A force majeure clause is a contractual provision that excuses parties from fulfilling their contractual obligations when certain events or circumstances occur that are beyond their control. This clause is commonly included in employment agreements, and it has become particularly important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on business operations.
The purpose of a force majeure clause is to protect both parties in the event that unforeseeable events beyond their control prevent them from fulfilling their obligations. For example, if an employee is unable to perform their duties due to a natural disaster or government-mandated shutdown, the force majeure clause would excuse their non-performance.
It is important to note that a force majeure clause must be drafted carefully to ensure that it is effective and enforceable. Some of the key factors that should be considered when drafting the clause include:
1. Specificity: The force majeure clause should be specific in terms of the events or circumstances that would trigger its application. This might include natural disasters, war, government action, or other unforeseeable events.
2. Notice requirements: The clause should specify any notice requirements that must be met in order for the clause to be triggered. For example, the employee may be required to provide notice of their inability to perform within a certain timeframe.
3. Duration: The clause should specify how long it will remain in effect and whether there are any limitations on its application.
4. Consequences of non-performance: The clause should specify the consequences of non-performance due to a force majeure event. This might include excusing the employee from their obligations for a certain period of time, reducing their obligations, or terminating the employment agreement altogether.
Overall, a well-drafted force majeure clause can provide important protections for employers and employees in situations where unforeseeable events prevent them from fulfilling their contractual obligations. It is important for employers and employees to work with experienced legal professionals to ensure that their employment agreements contain effective and enforceable force majeure clauses.