The NYS Division of the Budget and the NYS Office of the State Comptroller have now both issued the necessary guidance which will allow SUNY to begin paying health care worker retention bonuses to our members engaged in front-line health care duties. These bulletins define which SUNY employees are eligible to receive the bonuses and the steps that the SUNY campuses need to take to begin processing retention bonus payments for our eligible members. Individual employees will not be required to apply for or submit any individual documentation to qualify. Each campus will be responsible for all the following: identifying all campus employees who qualify for the bonuses; notifying employees of their eligibility for and the amount of their bonuses; and completing the payroll transactions necessary to make the payments to our members. Depending on how quickly each campus can complete the necessary payroll transactions, eligible members may begin to receive their retention bonus in checks dated as early as after November 9, 2022.
Eligible full-time SUNY employees with annual base salaries of $125,000 or less are eligible for bonuses totaling up to $3,000 ($1,500 for each of two six-month vesting periods). The original ceiling was $100,000 but thanks to aggressive advocacy by UUP, we were able to include a vast number of our members by convincing the Governor and the legislature to raise the ceiling to $125,000. We have also succeeded in getting part-time employees covered. Eligible part-time employees will receive for pro-rata bonuses as follows:
- Employees who work an average of at least 20, but less than 30 hours per week – $500 per vesting period,
- Employees who work an average of at least 30, but less than 37.5 hours per week – $1,000 per vesting period,
- Employees who work an average of at least 37.5 hours per week – $1,500 per vesting period.
To be eligible employees must work in “qualified work locations” and perform “qualified service,” in “qualified titles” during “qualified vesting periods.” The SUNY hospitals, the Long Island Veterans Home, the College of Optometry, and all other SUNY campuses (specifically at campus health clinics) have been identified by DOB as “qualified work locations”.
“Qualified Service” is defined in two distinct ways:
- State employees must be “front line health care and mental hygiene practitioners, technicians, assistants and aides that provide hands on health or care services to individuals”; or
- State employees must support the provision of patient-facing health care services in front-line settings provided within a patient care unit of a hospital or other institutional medical setting covered under Article 28 of the Public Health Law, in support of treating and caring for patients.
Medical settings covered by Article 28 include the SUNY hospitals, the Long Island Veterans Home, the College of Optometry, and the dental clinics at the Stonybrook and Buffalo dental schools. Employees in working in qualified titles in these locations may qualify under either of the above definitions.
The DOB Budget Bulletin includes the list of all “ Qualified Titles” for state employees.
For all the details regarding eligibility for and payment of the retention bonuses, here are the links to both the DOB Budget Bulletin – D-1200 and the OSC Payroll Bulletin No. 2052
- Budget_Bulletin_D-1200_(Printable_PDF)_64_.pdf (actionnetwork.org)
- State Agencies Bulletin No. 2052 | Office of the New York State Comptroller
UUP fought long and hard for hazard pay for our members who risked their lives throughout the darkest days of the COVID pandemic. This year, working with the Governor’s staff and SUNY, UUP was able to help get healthcare professionals retention bonuses into the state budget. Since then, UUP advocated to get as broad an inclusion of our bargaining unit members into the program. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but for the most part, we were highly successful. One last important item of information:
This program is totally funded by the state. It will not fall on the campuses to pay. Nice for a change!