The launch of the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus (HWB) Program in New York State provides funding to help eligible providers recruit and retain healthcare workers. While the opportunity to provide staff with bonuses is welcomed and highly necessary, there are rules and requirements in claiming the funds that must be followed as well as financial penalties for noncompliance.
This past April, the New York State legislature allocated $1.2 billion in funding to introduce the HWB Program, whichprovides for the payment of bonuses of up to $3,000 to certain frontline healthcare and mental hygiene workers in order to retain existing healthcare workers and to attract new frontline workers to the field.
While the HWB Program offers critical funding to the healthcare workforce during a time of severe workforce strain, it requires certain healthcare providers to undertake a somewhat complicated analysis to determine whether their employees (and, in some cases, contractors) qualify for payments under the HWB Program. They are then to submit claims to the state to fund these bonuses. Additionally, based on this determination, these providers face some legal concerns and audit risks when participating in this program. The first submission window is now open for employers, with a deadline to submit by September 2, 2022. Is your organization prepared to claim these funds?
The HWB Program requires healthcare providers who are “qualified employers” to pay bonuses to their “qualified employees” based on a vesting schedule issued by the state. Depending on the average number of hours that a qualifying employee worked during a “vesting period,” the employer is required to claim a different bonus amount, up to a maximum of $3,000 per employee, across five different vesting periods. Given these requirements, healthcare providers should undertake the following analysis:
- Determine whether they are a qualified employer under the program;
- Determine whether they employed any qualified employees during the vesting period; and
- Based on the list of qualified employees and the number of average weekly hours worked by those employees during the vesting period, submit claims to the state for payment of bonuses and attest that any payments will be remitted to the employee within 30 days of receipt.
Does your organization understand the eligibility and reporting requirements for claiming bonuses? Contact Withum’s Healthcare Advisory Services Team to guide you through this process before the 9/2 deadline.