(WSYR-TV) — In an effort to strengthen and bolster the health care workforce, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the launch of the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program.

The program includes $1.3 billion allocated for retention bonuses for eligible health care and mental hygiene workers through an online portal.

Enacted in the 2023 New York State Budget, the bonuses are a key initiative in Governor Hochul’s goal to increase the health care workforce by 20% over the next five years.

Who’s eligible?

  • Workers making $125,000 annually or less (excluding bonuses/overtime pay)
  • Must be in position for at least six months
  • Full-time, part-time or temporary employees eligible

Bonuses for employees will be determined by specific “vesting periods,” or hours worked during a consecutive six-month period between October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2024.   

A qualified employee can receive up to a maximum of $3,000 in total bonus payments over two vesting periods.

Qualified employees who work the following hours will be eligible for the following bonuses:

  • At least 20 hours but no more than 30 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $500
  • At least 30 hours but no more than 35 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $1,000
  • At least 35 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $1,500

Governor Kathy Hochul said the following to explain why this decision has been made:

Throughout the pandemic, including the early days when many were hunkered down at home, our health care workers and first responders have shown up day after day to keep New Yorkers healthy and save lives. Health care workers are the foundation of our medical system, and we need to acknowledge the sacrifices they have made to bring us through these challenging times. Our bonus program is about more than just thanks, this is an investment in health care and with it we will retain, rebuild, and grow our health care workforce and ensure we deliver the highest quality care for New Yorkers.

Employees can not receive bonuses if they have ever been suspended or excluded from the Medicaid program.

Workers must be enrolled in the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program by their employer.

Employers are responsible for awarding funds no later than 30 days after a worker’s eligibility for a bonus has been approved.

Eligible employers can submit employees who qualify for HWB payments by creating an account on the online HWB portal.

For more information on the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program, click here.