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Riverside County Employment Lawyers > Blog > Employment Lawyer For Employers > California Law Now Requires Employers to Pay All Training and Testing Costs for “Food Handlers”

California Law Now Requires Employers to Pay All Training and Testing Costs for “Food Handlers”


On January 1, 2024, Senate Bill 476 (SB 476) officially took effect in California. The law makes employers in the state responsible for bearing all of the training and testing costs associated with “food handler” registration/licensure in California. Here, our Riverside County employment attorney provides a comprehensive overview of employer duties under SB 476.

What is a Food Handler in California? (Know the Regulations) 

To start your review, it is important to have a basic understanding of the food handler regulations in California. The state has a food handler certification program that is administered at the county level. As explained simply by the Riverside Department of Health, “all food employees whose place of employment handles food, beverages, or utensils must obtain a Riverside County Food Handler Certificate.” Employers in the food industry must comply with the law.

Notably, in California, food handlers must take a training course and pass a test to get a Food Handler Card. The card essentially shows they know basic information about food safety. The card is required within 30 days of starting work. Once issued, it is valid for three years. Notably, the state food handler certification rule applies to many restaurant and food service employees who, at any point during their work, touch unpacked food.

An Overview of the New Employment Food Handler Requirements Under Senate Bill 476 

What has changed? While California has long had food handler compliance requirements, the testing and certification has technically been the responsibility of employees. Typically, an employee had to possess the issued and unexpired food handler card to get a job in the industry. Some employers were already paying for food handler testing and certification. However, that was not previously required. The law has changed. As of January 1, 2024, California’s SB 476 now mandates that employers must cover all costs associated with food handler training, including:

  • The application fees;
  • The training program fees; and
  • Compensation for employee time spent in training.

The law also requires that food handler training must occur during an employee’s normal work hours. Further, the law mandates that employees must be relieved of their standard duties during this training period. Most food industry employers are covered by the law. However, certain facilities, such as grocery stores and school cafeterias, remain exempt.

 An Employment Attorney Can Help Ensure You Have the Right Workplace Practices in Place 

All employers that operate within the food service industry in California must be proactive. You do not want to run into any problems due to violations of labor/business regulations—including the new requirements of SB 476. An experienced California employment law attorney can review your workplace practices and ensure that your company remains in compliance with the new law.

 Speak to a California Employment Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, we have extensive experience representing employers. If you have any specific questions or any specific concerns about SB 476—California’s new “food handler” employment law—we can help. Ready to get started? Contact us today. We represent employers in the Coachella Valley, Riverside County, and all across California.



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