NYS Council Update re: Healthcare Bonus Proposal in Gov’s Budget

March 1, 2022

Recently a NYS Council member raised an issue during one of our Thursday morning NYS Council Member Support & Public Policy meetings regarding the executive budget proposal that would deliver bonuses to some of New York’s healthcare workforce.  The concern was that certain NYS Council member agencies have a 37.5 hour work week (rather than a 40 hour work week) and the proposal was unclear as to whether employees in agencies with a 37.5 work week would receive a bonus, and if so how much.  In our read of the initial executive budget proposal, we did not see language that would exclude eligible employees in agencies that use a 37.5 hour work week.

Update:  Recently, the Governor released 30-day amendments to her initial budget proposal.  While most of the changes were technical, the Healthcare Bonus proposal was amended and the cap for eligible employees was increased from $100k to $125k.  In addition, the language now reflects that non-state employees can receive the maximum bonus if their work week is a minimum 35 hours (it was 37.5 and is now 35). 

Other criteria included in the original budget proposal remain intact including (but not limited to) the fact that the OASAS and OMH Commissioners retain significant decision-making powers related to eligible job titles.  The proposal refers to eligible employees as those that ‘help or care for” clients.  As such, we will continue to argue that support staff such as maintenance, transportation, food service and other critical employees should be eligible for the bonus.

Attached is Part D with the 30 day amendments (so latest version of the proposal) and below is information on the bonus/income and vesting periods.

Employee Eligibility
Front line health care and mental hygiene workers that provide hands-on health or care services to individuals,  including full time, part time, salaried, hourly, temporary work and independent contractors making $125,000 or less annually. The titles to be included will be determined by the Commissioner of DOH, in consultation with OMH, OPWDD, OASAS and OCFS Commissioners, as approved by the Director of the Budget.

Vesting Period
This is defined as a series of 6-month periods between 10/1/22-3/31/24 for which employees are continuously employed.  Employees are eligible for bonuses for no more than two vesting periods per employer up to $3000.

Employees working an average of at least 20 hours but less than 30 hours per week over a vesting period would receive $500 (total of $1000 over 2 vesting periods)
Employees working an average of at least 30 hours but less than 35 hours per week over a vesting period would receive $1000 (total of $2000 over 2 vesting periods)
Employees working an average of at least 35 hours per week over a vesting period would receive $1500 (total of $3000 over 2 vesting periods)

For Health and Mental Hygiene worker bonuses for state employees, bonuses are $500 per vesting period for 20-30 hours per week (total $1000), $1000 per period for 30-37.5 hours per week (total $2000) and $1500 per period for at least 37.5 hours/week (total $3000).  Vesting periods for employees must begin no later than 3/31/23.

Remember:  At the present time this and all executive budget proposals have not been enacted into law.  A new state budget is expected on or around April 1, 2022.