By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
DC 37 fought hard to create a fund for “essential pay” for members on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced New York State set aside $1.2 billion in the budget to fund bonuses up to $3,000 for health care and mental hygiene workers at public and private hospitals, health care facilities and related employers that provide health care-related functions. The New York State Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus covers the period from Oct. 1, 2021 to March 31, 2024. The Health Care Worker bonuses will be paid in December 2022.
Who is Eligible: The program provides bonuses to frontline health and mental hygiene workers who provide hands-on assistance with health or care services. Currently, the program includes full-time and part-time employees, temporary and contracted workers in 101 H+H titles, with additional titles in Mayoral agencies to be determined. The union is advocating for the largest possible group of titles that have been or will be engaged in health care, including in NYC Health + Hospitals and mayoral agencies where employees provide care to patients, clients or residents. The union is also advocating for members working at nonprofit private sector organizations that provide care and are funded through NYS Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities, NYS Office of Mental Health, NYS Department for the Aging or have Medicaid funding. Title equations will be made where the title does not match the state title but the function is the same.
The vesting periods covered for the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus are:
Full time eligible employees who work at least two of the above periods will receive up to a maximum of $3,000, or $1,500 per period, before taxes. Part time employees will receive a pro-rated amount. Payments will be made in December for employees who have completed one or two vesting periods. Employees who earn a $125,000 or more annual base salary (excluding bonuses or overtime pay) are not eligible for this bonus.
- Staff must be on payroll in order to receive the payment.
- Retired or separated staff are not included.
- Staff on full time release to the union are not included.
- Eligible staff in these titles are being notified directly by Health and Hospitals.
Note: For H+H employees, and all employees, if you have outstanding time sheets, please make sure they are up-to-date with your timekeeper for the period dating back to Oct. 1, 2021. This will be used to calculate hours worked, especially for part time employees who work full time.
Application: Employers must submit an application on behalf of eligible employees. Employees should contact their employer’s HR department regarding their application process and when to fill out any forms. The first step is for the employer to submit the titles that are eligible and receive approval from the state. Your employer is required to submit reimbursement claims to the state and make bonus payments to all eligible employees or face penalties, including suspension from the Medicaid program.
The state has indicated that the program will expand to Education sector employers in October.
The union cannot answer any questions about specific titles at this time. For up-to-date information about the New York State Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus, please visit the HWB Program Portal or FAQ page. For questions about the bonus program and application process, please contact the Health Care Worker Bonus (HWB) Call Center at 866-682-0077.
DC 37 will continue fighting at the bargaining table for essential pay for all members who have continuously worked during the pandemic.