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California Massage Therapy Act

The Act requires the protection of the public to be the highest priority

By Chris Micheli, August 27, 2022 10:30 am

California has a number of formal acts in statute. Business and Professions Code Division 2, Chapter 10.5 provides the Massage Therapy Act, which is contained in Section 4600 to 4621. Chapter 10.5 was added in 2014 by Chapter 406. Section 4600 names the Act.

Section 4600.5 provides three legislative intent statements, including that local governments, law enforcement, nonprofit stakeholders, the massage industry, and massage professionals work together going forward to improve communication and share information to further increase the value of statewide certification, to collaborate in the implementation of this act, and to develop a model ordinance reflecting best practices in massage regulation for cities and counties to adopt that will respect local control, patient privacy, and the dignity of the profession of massage therapy.

Section 4601 provides definitions for the following terms: “approved school”; “approved massage school”; “certificate”; “compensation”; “council”; “massage”; “massage establishment”; “massage practitioner”; “massage therapist”; and, “sole provider.”

Section 4602 established the California Massage Therapy Council, which carries out the responsibilities and duties set forth in this chapter. The council is governed by a board of directors comprised of 13 members who are chosen in a specified manner.

Section 4603, and any other functions. Whenever the protection of the public is inconsistent with other interests sought to be promoted, the protection of the public must be paramount.

Section 4603.1 requires local governments to impose and enforce only reasonable and necessary fees and regulations on massage businesses and massage establishments, in keeping with the requirements of existing law and being mindful of the need to protect legitimate business owners and massage professionals, particularly sole providers.

Section 4604 requires, in order to obtain certification as a massage therapist, an applicant submit a written application and provide the council with satisfactory evidence that the applicant meets all of the six specified requirements.

Section 4604.1 prohibits the council from accepting applications to issue any new certificates to practice as a certified massage practitioner on or after January 1, 2015. A massage practitioner certificate and any identification card issued by the council must be surrendered to the council by any certificate holder whose certificate is suspended or revoked.

Section 4604.2 requires a person who was issued a conditional certificate to practice as a massage practitioner, within five years of being issued the conditional certificate by the council, complete and report to the council the completion of, at least 30 hours of additional education per year from approved schools or from continuing education providers approved by the council, until he or she has completed a total of at least 250 hours of education.

Section 4605 provides that a certification issued pursuant to this chapter is subject to renewal every two years in the manner prescribed by the council. A certificate issued by the council must expire after two years unless renewed as prescribed. The council may provide for the late renewal of a certificate.

Section 4606 requires the council, prior to issuing a certificate to an applicant, or designating a custodian of records, to require the applicant or the custodian of records candidate to submit fingerprint images as directed by the council and in a form consistent with the requirements of this section.

Section 4607 allows the council to discipline an owner or operator of a massage business or establishment who is certified pursuant to this chapter or is an applicant for certification pursuant to this chapter for the conduct of all individuals providing massage for compensation on the business premises.

Section 4608 requires a certificate holder, in addition to the other requirements of this chapter, to display his or her original certificate wherever he or she provides massage for compensation.

In addition, these holders must provide their full name and certificate number upon the request of a member of the public, the council, or a member of law enforcement, or a local government agency charged with regulating massage or massage establishments, at the location where he or she is providing massage services for compensation.

Section 4609 provides that it is a violation of this chapter for an applicant or a certificate holder to commit any of the eleven specified acts, the commission of which is grounds for the council to deny an application for a certificate or to impose discipline on a certificate holder.

Section 4610 provides that an applicant for a certificate cannot be denied a certificate, and a certificate holder must not be disciplined pursuant to this chapter except according to procedures that satisfy the requirements of this section. Denial or discipline that is not in accord with this section must be void and without effect. The council may discipline a certificate holder by one or more of the five specified methods.

Section 4611 provides that it is an unfair business practice for a person to either hold oneself out or to use titles that implies or suggests that the person is certified as a massage therapist or massage practitioner, unless that person currently holds an active and valid certificate issued by the council pursuant to this chapter; or to falsely state or advertise or put out any sign or card or other device, or to falsely represent to the public through any print or electronic media, that he or she or any other individual is licensed, certified, or registered by a governmental agency as a massage therapist or massage practitioner.

Section 4612 prohibits a city, county, or city and county from enacting or enforcing an ordinance that conflicts with this chapter. Nothing prevents a city, county, or city and county from licensing, regulating, prohibiting, or permitting an individual who provides massage for compensation without a valid certificate.

Section 4614 states that, upon the request of any law enforcement agency or any other representative of a local government agency with responsibility for regulating or administering a local ordinance relating to massage or massage establishments, the council must provide information concerning an applicant or a certificate holder.

Section 4615 requires the council to have the responsibility to determine whether the school from which an applicant has obtained the education required by this chapter meets the requirements of this chapter. The council is required to develop policies, procedures, rules, or bylaws governing the requirements and process for approving, denying approval of, imposing corrective action on, or unapproving schools.

The following terms are defined: “initial application”; “complete application”; and, “preliminary review.”

Section 4615.5 provides that a school offering a professional massage therapy program that has not been approved by the council pursuant to this chapter, before enrolling a student in the school, is required to notify the student in writing and obtain a signed confirmation from the student that the student has received written notification of specified circumstances.

Section 4616 requires the council to be sued only in the county of its principal office, which must be in Sacramento, unless otherwise designated by the council.

Section 4617 provides that the superior court of a county of competent jurisdiction may, upon a petition by any person, issue an injunction or any other relief the court deems appropriate for a violation of this chapter by any person or establishment operating in that county subject to the provisions of this chapter.

Section 4618 provides legislative findings and declarations that, due to important health, safety, and welfare concerns that affect the entire state, establishing a uniform standard of certification for massage practitioners and massage therapists upon which consumers may rely to identify individuals who have achieved specified levels of education, training, and skill is a matter of statewide concern and not a municipal affair. This chapter must apply to all cities, counties, and cities and counties, including charter cities and charter counties.

Section 4619 requires this chapter to be liberally construed to effectuate its purposes. And, the provisions of this chapter are severable.

Section 4621 provides that this chapter remains in effect only until January 1, 2023, and as of that date is repealed.

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