California’s Food Handler Hard Law has a positive impact on restaurant workers

California’s New Food Handler Card Law: A Victory for Restaurant Workers

In California, the food service industry is a vital component of the state’s economy, employing millions of people and contributing significantly to the tax base. However, for many of these workers, the financial burden of obtaining a food handler card has been a major barrier to employment.

Financial Hurdles for Job Applicants

California law mandates that all food handlers, unless exempt, must obtain a Food Handler Card within 30 days of being hired. This requirement is in place to protect public health by ensuring that food handlers have a basic understanding of food safety practices and can prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses.

Prior to the enactment of a new law, the cost of obtaining a food handler card fell entirely on the shoulders of job applicants. This placed an undue financial burden on many workers, particularly those in entry-level positions who may have been struggling to make ends meet.

Furthermore, many employers conditioned employment on having an existing food handler card, meaning that job applicants were required to pay for the training and pass the assessment test before even being considered for a position. This practice created a significant obstacle for those seeking employment in the food service industry.

Legislative Response: SB 476

Recognizing the unfairness of this situation, California lawmakers passed a new law—SB 476—that prohibits employers from conditioning employment on having an existing food handler card. Starting January 1, 2024, employers will be responsible for covering the costs associated with obtaining a food handler card, including training fees, testing expenses, and any lost wages.

This new law marks a significant victory for restaurant workers in California, ensuring that they are not penalized financially for meeting the state’s food safety requirements. It also levels the playing field for job seekers, allowing them to compete for positions without the added burden of paying for food handler training.

In addition to prohibiting employers from conditioning employment on having an existing food handler card, the new law also requires that employers reimburse employees for any necessary expenditures or losses associated with obtaining a food handler card. This includes the cost of training, testing, and any lost wages incurred while attending training or taking the exam.

Moreover, the new law requires that employers treat the time spent obtaining a food handler card as compensable “hours worked.” This means that employees must be paid for the time they spend taking the training course and passing the assessment test.

Positive Impact on Restaurant Workers

By placing the responsibility for obtaining a food handler card squarely on the shoulders of employers, California has taken a major step towards ensuring that restaurant workers are not subjected to unfair financial burdens. This new law will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the lives of countless workers in the state’s food service industry. If you were not properly paid for your work, do not hesitate to contact us at Valerian Law. Call us at 888-686-1918 to speak with one of our experienced California employment attorneys.