AB 1221 was passed into law in 2017 mandating every person in California who serves alcohol must take and pass a mandatory training course – “The Responsible Beverage Service Act of 2017” (“RBS”).
The ABC staff developed a detailed curriculum and detailed rules regarding the RBS training program. This Blog summarizes the key facts and requirements to help all servers (and licensee owners) be compliant.
NO EMPLOYER MAY KEEP AN EMPLOYEE ON PAYROLL AFTER JULY 1, 2022 UNLESS THE EMPLOYEE IS ABC-CERTIFIED. New employees will have 60 days from the date of hire to become certified. The ABC has warned employers to not try to “game” the system by firing an existing employee then re-hiring them to give them more time to pass the certification requirements. Being caught gaming the system may result in an ABC disciplinary accusation against the premises license.
EVERY PERSON ASSOCIATED WITH SERVING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES (BOTH SERVERS AND MANAGERS) MUST:
- Each server/manager must first sign up on the California ABC’s website to register in the program and receive a unique ABC “server number”. It costs $3 to register with the ABC.
- Each server/manager must take the prescribed 4-hour instruction course from an ABC certified provider. You must have the ABC assigned server ID number before you may sign up for the course. There will be separate charges for each program determined by each provider.
- Each server/manager must pass the ABC administered test to be certified. Although the certified providers will offer the mandatory program and curriculum, the ABC itself will administer the test to each server/manager once the individual has completed the course.
- The ABC will allow each server/manager three tries to pass the test. 70% correct answers are required to pass the test. After three failed attempts, the server must re-take the program before he/she may take the test again.
The ABC estimates there are approximately 1 million servers/managers who must be certified (by our count of the hospitality industry, the ABC’s estimate is unrealistically low). We anticipate a large demand for training and certification programs as the certification deadline gets closer. We encourage all of our winery and hospitality industry clients to start the program NOW.
To date, there are only 26 approved training programs: 17 provided online, 7 provided as an in-person class for a group, 1 approved for in-house only (not open to the public) and only one course right now offered in Spanish. The list of providers and contact information are found on the ABC’s RBS website.
At the end of January, the ABC noted that only 7,076 servers have been trained and certified. This means there will be a huge demand for the few providers already certified to offer the course.
Potential training providers may still apply to the ABC (and we can help any clients who may want to do their own employee training to become an in-house certified provider) but each employee must still take and pass the test administered by the ABC itself to be certified.
The regulations list July 1, 2022 as the start of the program when each server/manager must be certified but there is a grace period before strict enforcement begins on September 1, 2022. What this means is failure to be certified by September 1, 2022 exposes the licensee to agency discipline. Our fear is an overload of disciplinary cases will test the already stressed ABC administrative hearing system.
The mandatory curriculum is extensive and detailed and some consider it difficult to master so leave time to assure each server will have time to become certified.
This is a new centralized program, and it is the ABC who will keep each server’s records in a newly developed state database. Employers will no longer be the official “record keeper” of their employees’ certifications but will nonetheless be responsible if their employee is not certified.
Employees for off-sale licensees may still take the free voluntary LEAD program (“Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs”).
It is common for employers and employees to find it difficult to maneuver through this new program and we are here to help if you need it.
You can view this blog on our website here.
This blog is dedicated to occasional (and hopefully interesting) reports of state and national alcoholic beverage regulatory developments that we encounter in our practice. Booze Rules (and any comments below) are intended for informational use only and are not to be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice please consult with your counsel.