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Compensation For Food Handler Certification in California

08 Nov


Update Applicable to:

All California employers and multi-state employers with at least 1 food handler worker in California.

What happened?

In October, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 476, which requires food facility employers to pay an employee for any cost associated with the employee obtaining a food handler card (unless exempt), considering the time it takes for the employee to complete the training and certification program to be compensable as hours worked. The law’s effective day is January 1, 2024.

What do employers need to do?

Employers should consider that the new law requires them to release their employees from work duties during food handler training, exam and at no cost to employees. Employers should review the resources provided above, as well as review the Fisher Phillips 4 step action plan to adjust their policies and practices to comply with the new requirement.

What are the details?

California has long required food handlers in restaurants to obtain certification: training and testing has been the employee’s responsibility. A new law approved on October 8, shifts this burden entirely to employers.

A food handler is responsible for preparing, storing, or serving food in a food facility, but does not hold a valid food safety certificate. This also includes individuals who prepare, store, or serve food in a temporary food facility.

To obtain a food handler card, an individual is required to complete a food handler training course and pass an examination that satisfies specific requirements. As per the Health and Safety Code, a food handler must acquire a food handler card within 30 days of their hiring date and must keep a valid card throughout their employment.

The new law requires employers to pay their workers for all costs associated with obtaining a food handler card and while employees are completing the training courses and examination, must be relieved of all work, and be compensated at regular rates.

The new law also requires the California Department of Public Health to make a list of all certified food handler training programs, including the cost of each program, by January 1, 2025.

The most obvious impact of this new law is its requirement that employees be relieved of other work duties when participating in food handler training, taking the exam, and at no cost to the employee.

For more information, please see the links below:

Law Firm Articles: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4

California Health and Safe Code 113948

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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