New York State Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus (HWB) Program
If you are a New York State health care employer, you should be aware of the new bonus program which was recently enacted as part of the 2022-2023 New York State Budget. The submission period for the first vesting period began on August 3, 2022, and will close on September 2, 2022. However, there will be a “grace period” in which employers will be able to submit claims for Vesting Period One during Vesting Period Two which runs October 1, 2022, through October 31, 2022.
This New York State Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus (HWB) Program allows for the payment of bonuses to “recruit, retain and reward health care and mental hygiene workers.” The bonus payments are not subject to New York State personal income tax. Note that federal and other state taxes are not exempt from the bonus payment. Employers will receive reimbursement for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and payroll taxes on the bonus payments.
The Bonus Amounts
The bonus amount paid is based on the number of hours worked during the vesting period.
- Qualified employees who work at least 20 hours, but no more than 30 hours per week, are eligible for a bonus of $500.
- Qualified employees who work at least 30 hours, but no more than 35 hours per week, are eligible for a bonus of $1,000.
- Qualified employees who work at least 35 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $1,500.
A qualified employee is eligible for up to two vesting periods per employer. The maximum any employee may receive is $3,000.
There are two separate definitions for qualified employers, both of which are subject to the requirements of the HWB program.
Under SOS §367-w(2)(b), all four of the following criteria must be met:
- A Medicaid-enrolled provider;
- Bill for Medicaid services;
- Employs at least one eligible employee; and
- (a) Are included in the list of provider and facility types in this statute, or (b) Are subject to a certificate of need (CON) process, or (c) The employer serves at least 20% Medicaid enrollees.
Under SOS §367-w(2)(c), the provider must receive payments from the Statewide Financial System (SFS), employs at least one eligible employee and be included in the list of programs and entities in this statute (i.e., OMH, OCFS, OASAS, OPWDD, other municipalities, etc.).
Employees must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- An employee must be employed during the entire vesting period to be eligible for the bonus.
- They must have a title included on the list of eligible worker titles.
- Earnings must not exceed an annualized base salary (excluding any bonuses or overtime pay) of $125,000, as evidenced by an Employee Attestation, which they must complete and return to their employer.
- They can be full-time, part-time or temporary employees, as well as independent contractors.
- If they do not work at a patient care building, they are not eligible as they work in a setting where patient care is not provided.
For additional details, including the vesting schedules, eligible worker titles and the employee and employer attestation, visit the HWB program website.
With the first submission window now open, employers should undertake the following steps:
- Qualified employers are required to submit the bonus claim on behalf of their qualified employees.
- Submissions for employers will be made through the HWB Program Portal: https://nysworkerbonus.health.ny.gov/#/.
- Employers will download the submission template that will allow for bulk data submissions or choose to submit via manual entry.
- Employers must pay the bonuses within 30 days after receiving the bonus amount.
- A qualified employer who fails to identify, claim and/or pay any bonus for more than 10 percent of bonus eligible workers, may be subject to penalties of up to $1,000 per violation of the HWB Program.
If you think you or your employees qualify for the New York State Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus Program under the criteria listed above, you should act on this as soon as possible. If you need additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us by reaching out to our office at 315-472-9127 or email@example.com.
Contributing Author: Shannon T. Forkin, CPA, CGMA, is a tax partner with over 18 years of experience in all areas of income taxation to a variety of clients. She concentrates in working with nonprofit, healthcare and professional service clients and provides strategic tax planning relating to taxation issues influencing these industries. Shannon specializes in all areas of corporate and individual income tax compliance, including multi-state taxation.