New job titles added as employers are now able to claim healthcare worker bonuses for employees

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The New York State budget included $1.3 billion in funding to provide frontline healthcare workers with bonuses. After many months of planning, New York State says it is now ready to start processing those payments.

Employers will claim the money on behalf of employees who are eligible and then pass the cash on to their workers. On Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the online portal for employers to claim that money from the state is now open. She expanded the list of job titles that qualify to include patient-facing food service workers, housekeeping aids, maintenance workers, medical secretaries/ administrative support, medical residents, and medical fellows at Article 28 hospitals and nursing homes.

Here’s how the program will work:

  • Employees must have a base salary of less than $125,000 to qualify.
  • You must work (or have worked) for six months straight for one employer during the “vesting” period (this includes contract/per-diem work if you meet hourly requirements below but it must be with same agency).
  • The “Vesting” period is any time between Oct. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2024.
  • Employees who work at least 35 hours per week can get a full bonus of $1,500/per vesting period (sliding scale for part-time employees).
  • Employees are eligible for two bonuses equaling a total of $3,000.
  • The employer is responsible for tracking hours and claiming bonuses from the state to distribute to employees.

According to a spokesman for the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, employees will not have to pay any state or local taxes on the bonuses but they must be claimed as income for federal tax purposes.

According to budget documents, frontline healthcare workers are “practitioners, technicians, assistants and aides that provide hands-on health or care services to individuals without regard to whether the person works full-time, part-time, on a salaried, hourly or temporary basis, or as an independent contract, that received an annualized base salary of $125,000 or less.”

That includes: Physician assistants, dental hygienists, dental assistants, psychiatric aides, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, physical therapy aides, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, occupational therapy aides, speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, exercise physiologists, recreational therapists, all other therapists, orthoptists, prosthetists, clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, radiologic technologists, magnetic resonance image technologists, ophthalmic medical technicians, radiation therapists, dietetic technicians, cardiovascular technologists and technicians, certified first responders, emergency medical technicians, advanced emergency medical technicians, paramedics, surgical technologists and all other heath technologists and technicians, orderlies, medical assistants, phlebotomists and all other healthcare support workers, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, nursing assistants and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Also included: Mental Hygiene Workers, Residence/Site Worker, Counselor (OMH), Manager (OMH), Senior Counselor (OMH, Supervisor (OMH)Developmental Disabilities Specialist QIDP – Direct Care (OPWDD), Certified Recovery Peer Advocate, Peer Professional – Non-CRPA (OASAS Only), Job Coach/Employment Specialist (OMH and OPWDD), Peer Specialist (OMH), Counselor – Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (CASAC),Counseling Aide/Assistant – Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Other Direct Care Staff, Case Manager, Counselor – Rehabilitation, Developmental Disabilities Specialist/Habilitation Specialist QIDP Clinical (OPWDD),Emergency Medical Technician, Intensive Case Manager (OMH), Intensive Case Manager/Coordinator (OMH)Nurse – Licensed Practical, Nurse – Registered; Psychologist (Licensed);Psychologist (Master’s Level)/Behavioral Specialist; Psychology Worker/Other Behavioral Worker; Social Worker – Licensed (LMSW, LCSW);Social Worker – Master’s Level (MSW);Licensed Mental Health Counselor (OASAS, OMH, OCFS);Licensed Psychoanalyst (OMH);Therapist – Recreation; Therapist – Activity/Creative Arts; Therapist, Occupational; Dietician/Nutritionist; Therapy Assistant/Activity Assistant; Nurse’s Aide/Medical Aide; Behavior Intervention Specialist 1 (OPWDD); Behavior Intervention Specialist 2 (OPWDD); Clinical Coordinator; Intake/Screening; Pharmacist ;Marriage and Family Counselor/Therapist; Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) Transition Coordinator (OMH);Crisis Prevention Specialist (OMH);Early Recognition Specialist (OMH)

You can find more information about the program here.

A spokesperson from RRH sent the following statement:

“Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday the launch of the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program, which will award bonuses to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 a year and remain in their positions for six months.
Rochester Regional Health received the update about the program, and is in the process of reviewing all of its requirements. We will submit the necessary documentation for the first phase based on the deadline provided by the state.
Despite the many challenges they faced over these past few years, our RRH frontline workers were not deterred, showing up and caring for the sickest and most vulnerable in our community. We thank Governor Hochul and our NYS legislative representatives for recognizing their service, and appreciate the state’s efforts in helping us all retain and recruit our dedicated health care professionals.”

A spokesperson from URMC sent the following statement:

“We are grateful for the Governor’s commitment to support health care workers and reinforce the critical role they play in this pandemic and assuring our community’s access to health care. Today’s announcement provides additional clarity on positions eligible for the bonus and requirements for accessing funds. We are working to understand the criteria and processes as they relate to our large workforce so we can submit our application at the end of the month. We look forward to distributing bonuses along the state’s timeline.”

Wednesday’s conference on healthcare workers in New York State