Healthcare workers who retired/resigned after first vesting period do qualify for bonus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As New York State finally prepares to start distributing the first round of bonuses to healthcare workers, there has been some confusion as to whether employees who’ve recently retired or resigned are eligible.

As a substance-use disorder counselor, Felice Edwards was very busy throughout the pandemic but after nearly a decade she recently decided to make a career change. She figured since she worked full-time during the first vesting period of eligibility (October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2021) she’d still qualify for a $1,500 bonus. "But I went to HR and I said ‘hey, I should qualify for this based on the dates’ and she was like ‘oh, I don’t know about that you probably won’t,’” Edwards tells News10NBC.

When Edwards asked why she wouldn’t qualify, “she sent me an email back saying, oh, I’m sorry for the bad news but it looks like you don’t qualify because you have to be here when the checks come in, in order to qualify,” she recalls.

While employers have to submit all the information on behalf of eligible employees who qualify for the first round by September 2, the State hasn’t said how quickly it can process the money after that. "I should qualify whether I’m there the day the payment comes in or not,” Edwards says.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke asked the New York State Department of Health for clarification. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the agency says, “employers may be obligated to pay former employees who are eligible and vested while in their employment provided that their employment was not terminated prior to the bonus payment due date.”

So, if an employee retired or left on good terms, they qualify for the bonus if they meet the vesting-period requirement. If an employee was or is fired before the first round of checks is distributed, they do not qualify for the bonus.