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, considering the time it takes for the employee to complete the training and certification program to be compensable as “hours worked.”

Under the 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 food facility, other than an individual holding a valid food safety certificate or an individual involved in the preparation, storage, or service of food in a temporary food facility.

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 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 take effect January 1, 2024.