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How to Hire a Maid in Singapore: A Complete Guide For Employers in 2023

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Did you know there are more than 250,000 foreign domestic helpers in Singapore? This equates to one out of five households in the country having a foreign domestic worker helping them with household chores.

However, aside from household needs, a maid in Singapore can also cook and take care of children, elderly family members, or a family member with disabilities.

Hiring a maid entails learning about the process beyond knowing the minimum monthly salary of a maid in Singapore. You must learn about the employment rules, acceptable accommodation, approved source country, and the government criteria for hiring FDW.

Let’s take you on a step-by-step process of what you need to know to hire a maid. This way, you will know what to do, where to look, and allocate enough budget for the various costs you will pay and other additional costs.

If you want to learn more about hiring a maid in Singapore, read on.

I. Reminders on Hiring A Maid

Before going any further, note that Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) changed the term Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) to Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW). However, only the term has changed, but it still refers to live-in domestic helpers from other countries.

When hiring a maid in Singapore, you can choose to get the services of a maid agency or opt for the direct hire of foreign domestic workers. While a maid agency makes hiring a maid easier and faster, MOM has also made it easier for any responsible employer to direct-hire a maid.

Here are the seven steps to follow when choosing to direct-hire a migrant domestic worker:

1: File Requirements Set by MOM

Whether you want to hire a maid to do household chores or you want to know more about hiring maid for elderly in Singapore, MOM requires that you meet the following qualifications:

  • You have to be of tender legal age of 21 and up.
  • You must have undergone the Employers’ Orientation Programme (EOP)
  • You must have the financial capacity to hire, pay for the pre-employment expenses and services, and provide accommodation to a foreign domestic worker.
  • You must possess the mental capacity to implement actions as an employer while ensuring the well-being of the foreign domestic worker.
  • You must not have a record of being an undischarged bankrupt.

2: Searching for a Foreign Domestic Worker With the Right Experience

Once you have proven your eligibility, you can proceed to look for domestic helpers for direct hiring. Here are the two most effective methods you can do to hire a maid directly. You can choose among the two to skip agency fees and other costs involved in getting the services of most maid agencies:

  • Searching for a Domestic Helper Through Word of Mouth

If you have friends, relatives, or colleagues who employ or know families in Singapore who employ foreign domestic workers, you can ask about their experiences and recommendations. This will save you time, and you will gather first-hand information from the people you trust.

  • Looking for a Foreign Domestic Worker Online

Suppose you can’t ask around personally since you’re caring for an elderly family member besides having a job. In that case, you can research possible candidates for the position at various websites online. You can browse through their profiles and get crucial details, including their home country, formal education, if they have a valid work permit and its expiration date, etc.

You can also learn about the status of the maids by looking at their online profiles:

  • First time overseas or new maid

It’s their first time applying as an overseas worker.

  • Ex-Singapore

They have worked in Singapore before but are not currently employed in the country.

  • Ex-overseas

They have worked in other countries before but haven’t experienced working in Singapore.

3: Ensuring That the Maid is Eligible

Whether you’re looking for transfer maids in Singapore or new hires, you must check if the potential applicants are eligible. Here are the requirements set by MOM for a domestic helper to be qualified to work in the country:

  • The domestic helper must be a female between 23 to 50 years of age at the time of the application.
  • If it’s her first time applying, the maid must have the Settling-In-Programme certification, typically given the first time they land in the country.
  • The domestic helper must have finished at least eight years of formal education and have a certificate to prove it.
  • The employment contract must include your home address recorded on your NRIC.
  • You cannot be related (your maid must not be a family member or relative).
  • They must come from countries or territories the Singapore government allows, such as Filipino maids, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Macau, and India.

4: Schedule an Interview with the Domestic Worker

By now, you should have come up with a shortlist of maids gathered through word of mouth or online research. You can ask more about the person’s life during the interview while assessing their traits.

If interviewing transfer maids, you can learn more about the current employer or even ask the latter for supporting details about the applicant and the possible transfer date. The interview phase will help an experienced or first-time employer assess whether an applicant will fit into their household.

You can conduct the interview face-to-face if the person is already in the country or online if they are in another country or currently employed and can’t leave their workplace.

Many employers prefer a face-to-face interview to avoid communication blunders that typically happen when communicating online. During the interview, you can ask about their expected monthly salary, if they have an ongoing maid loan, marital status, preferred rest day, etc.

Likewise, you can explain the job’s numerous responsibilities, the size of the household, and your expectations as an employer.

5: Collecting documents and applications

You must set up a GIRO account or general interbank recurring order. MOM requires this for the monthly levy deduction. After setting it up, you must see to it that it always has sufficient money. Lack of funds will result in the MOM’s revocation of the maid’s work permit.

Here are the documents you need to fulfil and other decisions when hiring a transfer maid:

  • Transfer date
  • Check the work permit 30 days before its expiration
  • Apply for a new work permit at least 30 days before its expiration
  • Knowing when the maid has accomplished the six months medical examination
  • Printing and signing (you, the maid, and current employer) of the declaration form after getting the in-principle approval (IPA)
  • Printing a temporary work permit and giving it to the maid on the agreed date of transfer
  • Here are the documents you need to fulfil and other decisions when hiring new maids:
  • New work permit (maximum two years of validity)
  • In-principle approval letter to be sent by MOM, including its validity period
  • Arrange for the maid to fly into Singapore within the IPA’s validity period
  • Secure a slot for the maid to attend the Settling-in Programme (SIP) during the first three days of her arrival
  • Make the maid undergo a pre-employment medical examination within two weeks of her arrival
  • Once the work permit is issued, proceed to the MOM Services Centre Hall C for the maid’s photo taking and fingerprinting

6: Applying financial schemes

After obtaining the IPA letter, you can apply for a security bond and maid insurance. You will then be required to make a security bond deposit amounting to $5000. You have to shoulder the amount without asking your maid to give a share.

Here are the instances when you can refund the paid bond:

  • There was no breach of terms and conditions done by both you and the maid
  • You decided to cancel the work permit
  • Your maid opted to go back home

Here are the instances when the bond can be forfeited:

  • You lose half of the bond if the maid goes missing
  • You did not send her back to her country of origin after her work permit expired
  • You failed to pay the maid’s monthly salary on time
  • You must pay for the security bond before your maid arrives in the country, or else she won’t be allowed to enter Singapore. If this happens, you will shoulder the fare of bringing her back home.

7: Onboarding on discussing their priorities and limitations once they are hired

Signing a safety agreement with the maid after you’re done with the documents is recommended. You must then come up with an employment contract indicating the salary, rest days, work requirements, limitations, and priorities.

II. Cost Considerations

While many Singaporean households prefer Filipino and Indonesian domestic helpers, maids from Myanmar have also been in demand in recent years. Here are the costs you need to prepare for when hiring maids from different countries:

A. Salary

Your maid’s salary comprises the highest monthly recurring cost you will pay. Here’s a look at the monthly minimum wage you need to pay a maid depending on where they are from:

  • Myanmar $470
  • Sri Lanka $507
  • Indonesia $570
  • Philippines $590

B. Maid Levy

The monthly levy for a maid in Singapore is $300, and $450 for subsequent MDWs.

You can lower it to $60 if you qualify for a concessionary levy, which applies to the following:

  • Your family member requires assistance with at least one daily activity.
  • You have a senior member of the family who is at least 67 years old.
  • You have a grandchild or child at home younger than 16 years old.

You will stop the levy concession benefit when:

  • The family member who requires assistance is no longer a citizen of the country.
  • The family member who requires assistance no longer lives with you.
  • The family member who requires assistance has passed away.
  • Your child or grandchild has reached the age of 16.

C. Working On Rest Days

Your maid must have a weekly rest day, meaning four rest days each month.

In case you need the maid to work during her rest day, you have to pay her salary for that day. Or you can also allow her a different rest day within the same month.

D. Living Expenses

You must prepare for the additional costs you will incur upon having an extra adult at home. You have to ensure your maid’s comfort and health and that she gets adequate food.

Here’s a sample of the additional cost you must include on your monthly budget upon hiring a maid:

  • Transport $40
  • Grocery $120
  • Utility $40

E. Medical Expenses

The employer is responsible for paying the maid’s medical insurance. The costs include fees incurred from getting treatment for toothaches, flu, or common colds.

MOM also requires you to pay for maid insurance with a minimum coverage of at least $15,000 per annum and at least $60,000 per annum minimum coverage of personal accident insurance. The latter will cover casualties leading to death or permanent disability.

MOM also mandates employers to send their maids to 6ME or a 6-monthly medical exam to check them for any signs of abuse. Prepare about $80 per annum for the 6ME.

III. Criteria to Hire a Maid in Singapore

The government of Singapore legally requires employers to live with their MDWs and ensure their well-being.

A. Qualifications of hiring a foreign domestic worker (FDW)

To qualify as an employer, you must:

  • Be 21 years and up
  • Understand the role of an employer and that you must never be diagnosed with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.
  • Haven’t filed for bankruptcy

B. First-time employer reminders

As a first-time employer, you must attend a 3-hour Employer Orientation Programme (EOP). This will cost S$34.50 in a classroom and S$46 online.

C. Losing eligibility with possible penalties

You may lose eligibility to hire foreign maids if you hire and fire maids too frequently in a short duration and you violate employment laws.

Here are the infringements of the employment rules that will make you lose your eligibility once found guilty:

  • Making more than three maid work permit applications within a year
  • Illegal deployment and employment of MDWs
  • Asking your maid to do tasks that compromise their health and safety
  • Maltreatment, exploitation, and abusing your maid
  • Hiring a maid without a legal work permit will result in employers being fined up to S$30,000, a year of jail time, or both. Illegal employment and deployment will result in getting fined up to $10,000.

D. Applying for Joint Income Scheme and Sponsorship Scheme

MOM considers the household income from the combined salary of the married couple when assessing their eligibility to hire. You can also apply for a Joint Income Scheme if you want to combine your salary with another member of your household or a Sponsorship Scheme if you are more than 60 years of age, and the income will be based on one or two sponsoring relatives.

E. Hiring a second foreign domestic worker

MOM will assess your financial capacity to hire a second maid if:

  • You have seniors (parents or in-laws) living with you
  • You have two or more minors under 18 years of age in the same household

F. Alternatives to hiring FDW

You may want to consider part-time legal aid if you don’t have seniors or children at home and failed to qualify as an FDW employer. This means a helper will come to your house to do chores once or several times a week.

IV. Foreign Domestic Worker Eligibility

Foreign Domestic Workers Levy Concessions

There are currently three FDW levy concessions categories that will lower your monthly dues to $60:

  • Young Child/Grandchild Scheme

If you have a grandchild or child under 16 years of age in your household.

  • Aged Person Scheme

If you have a senior family member who is a legal citizen of the country aged 67 and up.

  • Person With Disabilities (PWD) Scheme

You have a family member who needs assistance with at least one ADL or activity of daily living.

V. Home Caregiving Grant

Your family will be required to undergo a means test to determine if you qualify. This is only open to people living, permanent residents, or citizens of Singapore.

Moreover, if the household has no income, your property’s annual value must be $13,000 and below. And each person in the household must earn only $2,800 and below.

VI. Transfer Hire

Log in at the wp online portal using the work permit number of the FDW and your Singpass to check if the maid is still employed by her previous employer. You can also look into her employment history.

If still employed, you must communicate with the employer if they are willing to transfer the FDW to you. If yes, then you can proceed with processing the documents. If not, the maid must leave the country so you can process a work permit and hire her.

VII. Top 10 Mistakes in Hiring Maid for the Elderly

Avoid these hiring mistakes

Being an employer entails many responsibilities to their maids. However, it’s a give-and-take situation, and you must not allow the maids to abuse the job and your trust.

You both have to work on building the employer-employee relationship. To avoid facing the consequences of being too lax, ensure that you don’t commit these top ten mistakes when hiring a maid:

  1. Not allowing the maid to have a rest day
  2. Getting the maid in charge of everything, even the tasks not stipulated in her contract
  3. Poor supervision as an employer
  4. Lack of communication
  5. Dismissing the importance of extra training for your maid
  6. Failing to make contingency plans
  7. Not giving appraisal for the maid’s job performance
  8. Being neglectful of valuable items
  9. Forgetting to install CCTV in your home
  10. Dismissing the importance of having house rules

While hiring a domestic helper may take effort, piling documents, and paying the required fees, your life will be easier once you find the most suitable person for your household. You always have a choice to go to an employment agency if you don’t have the time to screen applicants and do the paperwork. In the end, your goal is to hire the right person capable of handling tasks at home.

Joshua is the founder of RC Caregivers. Having been the primary caregiver of his father, he has been undertaking ways to provide affordable and quality care, not just to his father, but to all elderly in Singapore. He has founded multiple care companies, such as Red Crowns Senior Living, and has been featured in Straits Times, Zaobao and Money 93FM. He has also been lauded by DBS, with the company being the recipient of the DBS foundation grant.
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