Original article written by Kevin Tampone for Syracuse.com
New York’s new health care worker bonus program, passed earlier this year as part of the state budget process, is officially under way.
Qualifying health care workers in the state are now eligible for bonuses of up to $3,000 through the program, which will cost $1.3 billion. The bonuses are aimed at improving recruitment and retention in the health care field.
The payments are part of a push to increase New York’s health care workforce by 20% in the next five years, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.
To qualify for the bonuses, workers must be “front line health care and mental hygiene practitioners, technicians, assistants and aides that provide hands on health or care services to individuals.” Employees must also work for qualified employers to get the bonuses, which include providers, facilities, pharmacies, and school-based health centers licensed under the state Public Health Law, Mental Hygiene Law, and Education Law, along with some others.
A full list of qualifying employers and eligible worker job titles is available online at the state Health Department’s website.
Workers are only eligible if their annual base salary, excluding bonuses or overtime, is $125,000 or less. Employees can work full-, part-time or on a temporary basis to qualify. Workers suspended or excluded from Medicare aren’t eligible.
How does it work?
Employees will be eligible for bonuses based on whether they worked in qualifying positions during specific time periods outlined by the state Health Department. Each period stretches for six months, beginning in October 2021 and ending in May 2024.
How much are the bonuses?
Workers get $500 if they work at least 20 hours a week, but not more than 30, $1,000 if they work at least 30 hours a week, but not more than 35 and $1,500 if they work 35 hours a week or more.
Employees can get a bonus for each time period they qualify. There are some limits. Workers can only get a bonus for up to two time periods per employer. The maximum any employee can get is $3,000.
How do workers get their money?
Employers claim the bonuses on behalf of qualifying employees. It’s not optional, according to the New York State Nurses Association. Employers are required to claim the bonuses for their workers.
Employers who fail to do so for more than 10% of bonus-eligible workers could be fined up to $1,000 per violation of program rules. Workers will have to sign an attestation form confirming their eligibility for a bonus. Employers have to sign one, too.
When will employees get paid?
The Health Department doesn’t list a set schedule for payments. The money will start rolling out as employers submit claims for employees, the claims get processed by the state and the state then forwards the bonus money back to employers.
After employers get the money from the state, they have to pay the bonuses to workers within 30 days.
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