View all Articles

New York State Budget Includes Two Key Employment Related Items

The final New York State budget included to key employment related items for frontline health care workers; bonus pay for health and mental health workers and a minimum wage increase for home care aids.

Bonus Pay for Health and Mental Health Workers

The final state budget includes bonus pay for frontline health care staff working in health and mental health settings. According to the language in the budget, 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, which received an annualized base salary of $125,000 or less.”

Worker bonuses will be commensurate with the number of hours worked during the vesting period that will be determined by a vesting schedule issued by the Commissioner of Health as follows:

  • Employees who have worked an average of at least 20 but less than 30 hours per week over the course of a vesting period would receive a $500 bonus for the vesting period.
  • Employees who have worked an average of at least 30 but less than 35 hours per week over the course of a vesting period would receive a $1,000 bonus for such vesting period.
  • Employees who have worked an average of at least 35 hours per week over the course of a vesting period would receive a $1,500 bonus for such vesting period.
  • Full-time employees who are exempt from overtime compensation as established in the labor commissioner’s minimum wage orders or otherwise provided by New York state law or regulation over the course of a vesting period would receive a $1,500 bonus for such vesting period.

An alternative number of vesting periods may be provided through regulation, provided that total payments do not exceed $3,000 per employee.

Employees will be eligible for bonuses for no more than two vesting periods per employer, in an amount equal to but not greater than $3,000 per employee across all employers.

Upon completion of a vesting period with an employer, an employee will be entitled to receive the bonus and the employer will be required to pay the bonus no later than the date specified under the law; however, that prior to such date the employee does not terminate, through action or inaction, the employment relationship with the employer.

According to 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.

Minimum Wage Increase for Home Care Aides

The final state budget also includes a $3.00 per hour increase in the minimum wage over the next two years for home care aides. The first increase of $2.00 per hour is to take effect on October 1, 2022, and the next will increase of the additional $1.00 per hour will take effect on January 1, 2023.

For downstate home care aids, the wage parity benefit portion remains at $4.09 (New York City) and $3.22 (Long Island and Westchester). Wage Parity is a legally required supplemental pay benefit for hourly home care aides who perform Medicaid-reimbursed work. Covered employees may be paid both a base wage and a supplemental benefit to satisfy a minimum rate of total compensation.

Next Steps for Employers

Additional details on how the bonus payments will be administered and disseminated is not yet available. In order to prepare for the minimum wage increase, employers should review and adjust their payroll practices and procedures as necessary to ensure covered employees are paid the applicable minimum wage rate effective October 1.

HR Works will continue to monitor this topic and provide updated information as needed.

HR Works, Inc., headquartered at 200 WillowBrook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, with an office in East Syracuse, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.