Update Applicable to:
All California employers and multi-state employers with at least 1 food handler worker in California.
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:
California Health and Safe Code 113948
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