Compensation Required for Food Handler Certification in California

By Sayaka Karitani © Jackson Lewis November 6, 2023

In October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 476, which requires food facility employers to pay an employee for any cost associated with obtaining a food handler card. The law considers the time it takes for the employee to complete the training and certification program to be compensable as hours worked.

Under the state Health and Safety Code, a food handler is required to obtain a food handler card within 30 days of their date of hire and maintain a valid card for the duration of their employment. A food handler is defined as an individual who is involved in the preparation, storage, or service of food in a food facility. There's an exception for facilities that are temporary.

To obtain a food handler card, an individual must complete a food handler training course and examination that meets certain requirements.

Under SB 476, employers are required to consider the time that it takes for an employee to complete the training and examination as compensable hours worked. Moreover, employers must reimburse for any necessary expenditures.

SB 476 requires that employees are relieved of all other work duties while taking the training course and examination.

Finally, under the new legislation, an employer is prohibited from conditioning employment on the applicant or employee having an existing food handler card.

These changes in state law will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

Sayaka Karitani is an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Los Angeles. © 2023. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. 



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