In Singapore, domestic helpers are usually called helpers, maids, or ‘amahs’, and their job scope has a very wide range, including general household chores, childcare, cooking, and laundry. Most families with children choose to employ live-in foreign domestic helpers, as this is often the most economical and convenient form of childcare available. Most helpers originate from the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other regions of Southeast Asia. While one can also easily find part time assistance, live-in helpers tend to offer the best value for money. Infant daycare services and babysitters are harder to find in Singapore than in many other countries, as most families with young children and babies opt for live-in help.
While debates persist on whether maids in Singapore are largely overstretched and underpaid, their services are much appreciated by both Singapore and expatriate families. Most maids would prefer to work for an expatriate family as well, as foreigners tend to generally be more generous with pay and reasonable regarding work loads and schedules than do some local families.
In general, it is better value to hire a full-time maid if you have more than one chore you need covered. Employers of full-time foreign domestic helpers are required to cover their accommodation, food, and health checkups. Legislation and rules regarding foreign domestic workers (FDWs) can be found at the Ministry of Manpower website. While there is no legislated minimum, the salary for a full-time maid working with an expatriate family normally ranges from S$350-550 per month, depending on her experience level. Plus, one must pay a monthly government levy of $265, purchase basic healthcare insurance, and post a government bond. Insurance and the bond combined usually cost approximately $150-200 for two year’s coverage.
Part-time maids, on the other hand, are usually tied to a company and offer very narrow job scopes. Part-time maids are usually hired for specific reasons only like cleaning and laundry. If you hire a maid to clean the house, you are not allowed to ask them to baby-sit as well. Charges for these maids are project-/time-based. Charges for part-time maids range from S$15 to S$18 per hour.
One can hire a maid either through an agency or on one’s own. Agencies can be helpful in managing all of the paperwork required to transfer or hire a maid from abroad, but they also charge fees for services that can be quite easily performed on your own. The processes required to hire a FDW and get her the requisite work pass are detailed on the Ministry of Manpower website.
To hire a maid, you must complete the following steps:
- Complete the Employers’ Orientation Programme (EOP), a three-hour programme that provides employers with information on employing a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW). Those who are employing FDWs for the first time must attend the EOP before submitting the FDW’s Work Permit (WP) application. Failure to comply with this requirement will render the WP application unsuccessful. However employers who fulfill the exemption criterias may apply for exemption from attending the EOP. Employers can choose to do the EOP in a classroom setting or online and must complete the EOP two working days before submitting their FDW’s WP application. Registration details are available on the Ministry of Manpower website.
- Either visit an agency that will handle all of the paperwork and processes for you OR
- Apply for a Foreign Domestic Worker Pass online via the Ministry of Manpower website.
- Receive an In-Principal Approval Letter from the Ministry of Manpower
- Purchase medical insurance and a security bond for your maid from any major insurance provider. ANDA offers a convenient online insurance service.
- Arrange for your maid to enter Singapore, if she is not already in the country, with a copy of the In-Principal Approval Letter
- A first-time Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) must take the FDW Entry Test and attend the Safety Awareness Course (SAC) within three working days (excluding arrival day) following her arrival. Bring the following documents along for registration of Entry Test and SAC to the NSCS Training Centre at 10 Raeburn Park, #02-05 to #02-09: Letter of Notification to bring FDW into Singapore; FDW’s Passport; and a copy of the FDW’s educational certificate.
- Within 14 days of arrival, arrange for your FDW to have a medical examination by a registered Singapore doctor.
- Apply via WPOnline to have your FDW’s Work Pass issued.
- Collect the work pass in person from the Ministry of Manpower following notification.
If you are hiring a maid already working for a family in Singapore, you may apply for an Employment Transfer via WPOnline. You must, however, also obtain a signed permission ‘release’ from the current employer to provide to the MOM, with a form obtained from the Ministry of Manpower website.
While some agencies are known to charge foreign maids exorbitant fees to come to work in Singapore, the reputable ones can provide assistance and protection in the event your maid doesn’t work out. Furthermore, they can be invaluable in helping you find a maid if you don’t have any personal recommendations from friends. Otherwise, check expatriate social club boards and school publication classified to find information on maids currently with expatriate families who are available for transfer.
Some of the more reputable maid agencies include:
- Amahs On Wheels: Domestic cleaning services provides Singaporean cleaners / maids for regular house cleaning, spring cleaning, laundry collection, baby-sitting and pet-sitting services. 56B Somme Rd, Singapore, Tel: 6837 2708 Fax: 6292 3530
- Domestic One: Cleaning services offered from this registered agency includes local part-time maids and cleaners charged on an hourly rate, spring cleaning packages and babysitting services, Tel: 6388 1329 Fax: 6881 1792
- HomeCare Employment Agency: Specialises in recruitment and deployment of domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines, skilled and unskilled PRC China and Sabah (East Malaysia) foreign workers, Tel: 6337 8182 / 6337 8184 Fax: 6337 8183
- Inter-Mares Maid Agency: A maid agency that will find you a maid to cook, mind your baby and sweep the floor, do the laundry and a little more. 304 Orchard Road, Singapore 238863, Tel: 6732 9112
- Prestige Management Services: Prestige has an excellent reputation in the domestic maid market and a proven track record in securing employment, providing training and looking after the welfare of Filipino domestic workers in Singapore. Also supplies engineers and maids to Spain, Tel: 6738 2100 Fax: 6738 2613
A number of training groups have also popped up to offer added benefits to maids or to assist expatriate families with their helpers.
- aidha: Offers financial training, including business skills and personal financial management, to foreign domestic helpers.
- Expat Kitchen: Offers cooking classes for maids working with expatriate families.
- Small Cooks, Big Meals: Offers cooking classes for maids working with expatriate families.
- Manners in Mind: Offers training in service etiquette and household management for maids and special lectures for expatriate employers.