Sara Boyns, Workplace Law: Responsible Beverage Service Training Program Act

Q: I have heard about a new training that is required for workers who serve alcohol. What exactly is this training and who is required to take it?

A: The Responsible Beverage Service Training Act will go into effect on July 1. The act, which was created by Assembly Bill 1221, creates a new training and certification requirement for alcohol servers and their managers. The act authorized the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), the agency that regulates the granting of licenses to businesses regarding alcohol, to establish the Responsible Beverage Server Training Program. Under the program, certain alcohol servers and their managers must have a valid Responsible Beverage Server certification from the ABC to serve alcohol.

Aug. 31 is the deadline for alcohol servers and managers to receive the certification. New employees hired after the law’s effective date must receive training and certification within 60 days of their hire date. An alcohol server is defined as anyone who does any of the following:

• Checks customer identification for purposes of alcoholic beverage service or entry to an ABC on-premises licensed establishment;

• Takes customer alcoholic beverage orders;

• Pours alcoholic beverages for customers; or

• Delivers alcoholic beverages to customers.

An alcohol manager is anyone who trains, directly hires, or oversees alcohol servers at an ABC licensed premises, or who trains alcohol servers how to perform the service of alcohol for consumption for an ABC on-premises licensee.

The purpose of the new certification is to ensure servers and their managers are educated on the dangers of serving alcohol to minors and of over-serving alcohol to patrons, with the intention of reducing alcohol-related harm to local communities.

To begin the process of receiving the certification, alcohol servers and their managers can create an account in the Responsible Beverage Service Portal at https://abcbiz.abc.ca.gov/ and can then complete the following three-step process:

• Register with ABC as a server on the Responsible Beverage Server Portal;

• Take Responsible Beverage Server training from an approved training provider; and

• Return to the Responsible Beverage ServerPortal to take ABC’s alcohol server certification exam.

Once alcohol servers and managers have an account on the portal, they can search through a list of training providers and sign up for the required program. Within 30 days of taking the training, alcohol servers and managers must take and pass an exam. The certifications are valid for three years and must be renewed thereafter. Employers cannot register their staff for the trainings. Each server or manager needs to register and sign up for the training themselves through their own individual portal.

The ABC estimates that this certification requirement applies to approximately 56,000 ABC licensees with on-premises alcohol sale privileges and one million servers in California. While this act applies very broadly, the ABC FAQ suggests some potential exemptions to certification, such as, alcohol distributors who provide trainings on how to feature products for marketing purposes; academic instructors who teach a college or university course where beer or wine is tasted; salon or barbershop owners or stylists who provide their customers with complimentary beer or wine; and employees of a licensed plane or boat (Type 54 and 55). The FAQs can be viewed at https://www.abc.ca.gov/education/rbs/frequently-asked-questions/ It is important to consult with counsel if you have any questions about whether this act applies to your business or ABC license.

Sara Boyns is a lawyer with Fenton & Keller in Monterey. This column is intended to answer questions of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice. Email queries to email@fentonkeller.com.

Contributed by local news sources

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