9 Things to Look Out For When Getting a Maid in Singapore

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Singapore’s dependency on household help is increasing, making live-in domestic helpers an essential part of the Singaporean household. About 1 in 5 households in Singapore employ a maid and many are tasked to look after the home. Some households need help looking after an elderly loved one and Elderly care Singapore provides maid for elderly and caregivers who can assist ageing loved ones in going about their daily lives.

With such essential roles in the household, it is important to know what to look out for when hiring a maid and what questions to ask when interviewing any potential candidate.

What to Expect When Hiring a Domestic Helper in Singapore

Application for Work Permit

Hiring domestic helpers in Singapore is fairly complex. To employ a domestic helper, you must apply for a work permit that allows them to legally work in Singapore. This takes quite a bit of paperwork and a mistake or a mishap may cause the application to be denied.

This may be daunting, especially for a first-time employer and as such, you may need assistance. Red Crowns is a top maid agency Singapore that can help match you with the care services you and your family needs. We can also aid you in choosing the maid that suits your family’s care needs the most.

Costs of Hiring a Maid

Another thing before hiring a maid. It is important to review your financial ability as hiring help can be quite costly. Whether or not you are planning to hire a maid directly from their home country or you intend to hire a transfer maid who is already in Singapore, there are more than just the maid salary. Apart from monthly salary. The cost of hiring a maid in Singapore takes into account maid insurance, levies, placement fee, security bond, medical insurance as well as living expenses. Grants are available to defray costs.

In short, hiring a domestic helper is an investment and a worthy one, but you have to take proper consideration to make sure you are hiring an individual who suits your household and can provide your family’s care needs.


Responsibilities as an employer

There are employer requirements potential employers must meet before they can hire an MDW:

  • Be 21 years old and above
  • Not an undischarged bankrupt
  • Have the mental capacity to understand and discharge your responsibility as an employer.

As mentioned, Employers are responsible for the well-being and upkeep of their helpers. The following are the responsibilities of an employer:

1. Rest days

FDW are entitled to 1 rest day per week to ensure they get enough mental and physical rest. These are particularly important so your helper can continue providing quality service for you and your family. There may be instances however that you may need your helper to work on her rest days. She this happen and she agrees, she is entitled to compensation. Besides her basic salary, she should be given 1 day’s worth of salary for each rest day she worked. Alternatively, she may be allotted a replacement rest day within the same month.

2. Accommodation

Employers are required to provide their maid with a separate room that ensures their privacy and modesty are protected. Helpers must also have access to basic amenities such as a mattress, pillow, blanket, bathroom amenities and toiletries. Employers should also ensure that their helper is working in a safe environment where she do the household chores in a way that does not endanger her life or safety.

3. Adequate Food

Employers must provide their maid with 3 meals a day. It is important to remember that the MDW you are welcoming in your home is coming from a different cultural and religious background they may have dietary restrictions or requirements. These must be respected and followed to ensure your helper’s comfort as part of your household.

4. Medical Care

Employers are required to get medical and personal accident insurance to provide her with adequate medical coverage during her stay in Singapore. Employers must bear the costs and these should not be deducted from her salary. This includes coverage for expenses such as medical check up, medical examination as well as unforeseen accidents that can result in permanent disability or death that will be paid to her dependents.

Why Hire a Transfer Maid Instead of a New Foreign Domestic Helper?

So what makes a transfer maid a more accessible (or, in some instances, better) choice than new foreign helpers? You may want to look up these signs before you hire a transfer maid:

  1. Minimal adjustment period

When you hire a transfer maid directly from their employer instead of a maid agency, you are ensured that your next helper has already adjusted to life in Singapore. These maids are ready to work anytime and would no longer deal with homesickness.

The thing about new foreign maids is that most would need an adjustment period to get used to living far from their families. Moreover, a transfer maid already knows how to work with most appliances found in many Singapore homes.

Another thing is that communication won’t be a problem with a transfer maid. They are already accustomed to the expressions and local terms used since they have been in the country for quite a time already.

  1. Have more experience

It will be best for you to hire a transfer maid if you don’t have time to oversee or train your domestic helper. These maids already have the skills, have handled responsibilities from their previous employers, know the principle followed in transferring and looking for new work permit and job, and have completed training from a maid agency.

Additionally, these maids have an idea about a typical Singapore family and household. They know what’s expected from them in terms of work and personal hygiene. Plus, they know their way to the grocery and other stores where you may want them to get something.

All you have to do is follow the agreed transfer date from the former employer and check if you no longer need to do anything about the work permit issued. With the paperwork completed, the maids can begin the job after all the details have been laid out.

  1. More skills

Experience has taught these maids the skills you and your household will benefit from. You can also check the employment history of foreign domestic workers through MOM, so you will gather more ideas on the kind of work they’ve previously dealt with.

If you’re the kind of employer that wants to hire a maid with a specific skill, you can request a face-to-face interview. You can also opt for an online interview if the maid is still unavailable to carry on with the application process.

Request the maid to answer questions about their skills and if they can provide the kind of service you are after. Make sure you know what you are looking for before you proceed with the hiring process.

What are Maids for Elderly?

Maids for elderly are MDWs whose primary focus is providing care for an elderly care recipient. Their care services can range from assisting with activities of daily living such as walking, bathing and toileting, to household chores and ensuring a clean and safe environment for their care recipient.

What does MDW stand for? Is that the same as a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW)?

FDW is an acronym that stands for Foreign Domestic Worker. MOM most recently adopted the term Migrant Domestic Worker or MDW to refer to FDWs.

9 Things to Look for from a Maid for Elderly

Relevant experience

Those who have prior knowledge working as a domestic helper is a plus, so much more if they are transfer maids have previous experience working in Singapore. This means that they don’t need to go through the settling in programme which was designed to equip new MDW’s about things to know regarding living and working in Singapore. For transfer maids, it is assumed that they have already adapted to the way of living in Singapore as well as the duties expected of a domestic helper

Their daily work routine

Getting to know their typical work routine will let you know more about her experience and expertise in the household as a domestic helper. It would be useful to know what kind of tasks she is comfortable with and what kind of environment she has experience working in, this way you know which aspects of her job scope would need more instructions and which you can be confident she can handle with little direction.


Performance background

Getting to know her work history lets you know of her experience and also tells you more about her track record. It is useful to be aware if she has had frequent maid transfers. Though the experience of transfer maids are a bonus in hiring, inquiring their current employer or other employers the reason behind frequent transfers would let you know if this is a cause for concern and would give you more insight into your hiring decision.

Personal situation

In hiring a domestic helper, you are welcoming a new person into your home. It is important therefore to know as much about them as you can so you can understand their situation in life. Basic details such as marital status, if they have children of their own can give you an idea of how she will interact with your children and your family.

Their expectations

Asking for their expectations of the work environment and scope of their job allows you to be on the same page and avoid misunderstandings. These questions can be regarding their job scope or expected minimum salary. This also gives you a chance to share your own expectations and see if they are comfortable and willing to provide these services. It is important to let them know if you expect them to care for an elderly family member or an infant as this is a crucial part of the job scope.

Their future plans

Her future plans ultimately tell you how long you can expect her to stay with you. If she plans to work in Singapore to support her family back home, chances are high that she would permanently return to her home country one day. This also allows you to provide support as her employer and foster a working relationship that can benefit you both.

Moral and ethical properties

It is important to also check if the person you are hiring has good ethics and manners as they will essentially become a part of your household and will provide assistance for the most vulnerable members of your home. A character check from their agency or their previous employers would be beneficial to know more about them. A personal interview, in person or online or on the phone, would also get you a chance to talk to potential candidates to get a better grasp of their character before hiring them.

Cultural/Religious Background

Your domestic helper is more than an extra pair of hands in the house. She too has a personal, cultural and religious background that informs how she navigates her life and this may affect her work. Knowing her religious beliefs if these entail a specific diet or a certain lifestyle will let you know if they are the right fit for your family.

For example, if a candidate subscribes to the Muslim faith, she will not be able to eat food made from pork nor will she be able to care for any pet dogs. This may become a problem especially if you have a canine family member at home.

Knowing these details about her also informs you how to be considerate and ensure a comfortable working environment as her employer.

First aid knowledge

First Aid knowledge becomes handy, especially in emergencies. If your elderly loved one is prone to falling or hurting themselves, their caregiver is the first person who can respond and they should know how to administer basic should the need ever arise. Knowing your domestic helper is equipped with first aid skills can also provide you with a sense of security and peace of mind, as you can be sure your loved ones are in good hands.

Maid Interview Questions

Most maid agencies may not require you to interview with potential candidates, but it is beneficial for you as the employer if you do take the time to sit down, ask them questions yourself. This way, you can get a sense of their character and personality that are not often reflected in a resume or a picture.

The following are examples of questions you can ask your candidate to get to know more about their experience, expectations and reasons for working in Singapore. You must ask questions that cater to your needs to truly find a suitable match for you and your family.

For example, if you need help with caring for an elderly family member, you can ask your candidate the following questions:

  • Do you have any experience taking care of the elderly?
  • What was the condition of the elderly and what did you do?
  • Do you have experience giving medicine on a timetable?
  • What if the elderly scolds you frequently? What would you do?


Employing an MDW is time-consuming and costly. It would be a shame if your chosen candidate suddenly backs out and decides to return home. Knowing more about their future plans, their purpose and their emotional state can give you insight into how long you can expect to have your domestic helper under your employment. If you are concerned about the duration of their stay in Singapore, you can ask your candidate the following questions:

  • Why do you want to work in Singapore?
  • How long are you planning to work for us?
  • How do you deal with homesickness?


Oftentimes, domestic helpers are employed to maintain the home and the household. It’s important to get to know more about what your maid’s work life was like and if she can be trusted to handle stressful situations. The following questions can provide more insight on what to expect from the candidate you are interviewing:

  • With your previous employer, what was the routine like?
  • What kind of food can you cook?
  • Have you had experience cooking for others?
  • Can you give me examples of how you deal with a stressful situation?



When looking for an extra help around the house, maid agencies have helped many employers screen and search for candidates. However, one way to ensure they are a suitable match is by conducting a personal interview between you and the candidate. This is also a great way to get to know your potential maid better and set expectations as employer and employee to ensure a harmonious working relationship.

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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