Engaging An Employment Agency and The Process Of Hiring An MDW (Part 2)

Engaging An Employment Agency and The Process Of Hiring An MDW (Part 2)

Some employers choose to employ an MDW without going through an employment agency (EA), but there are also those who prefer to engage an EA for help. This section summarizes the key things you should look out for when engaging an EA.


1. How do I know if an EA is legitimate

  • All EAs must be licensed by MOM.
  • All EA personnel dealing with clients must also be registered with MOM.


2. How do I know if an EA is licensed?

  • There is a list of licensed EAs at www.mom.gov.sg/eadirectory which users can use to verify the licence of an EA.
  • Licensed EAs must put their licence number in all of their advertisements.
  • All EA personnel must have and produce a registration card with their photo and registration number. The identity of the EA Personnel can be verified against MOM’s database of EA personnel in the EA directory.


3. How do I choose an EA?

Visit the Employment Agencies and Personnel Search E-Service page on the MOM website (www.mom.gov.sg/ea-directory) and look out for:

  • Whether an EA has been issued with demerit points by MOM
    Demerit points are giving to EAs when they break the rules.
  • Ratings by the EA’s customers 
    These are ratings given by employers who have engaged the services of the EA to recruit their MDWs. The employers are invited by MOM to rate their EAs’ services based on a set of questions. The aggregated ratings from the employers are published online to help prospective employers in their EA selection.
  • The number of placements the EA has made in the past 12 months
    The number of successful placements could be an indicator of the scale of the EA’s business. However, apart from sheer volume, you should also be looking at the two indicators below.
  • The EA’s MDW retention rates
    The EA’s retention rate refers to the percentage of MDWs placed by the EA who have stayed with the same employer for at least 365 days. This is a possible indicator of the ability of the EA to match MDWs with MDW employers suitably.
  • The EA’s transfer rates
    This refers to the percentage of MDWs who, within the past 12 months, have been placed by the same EA to 3 or more employers out of the total number of MDWs it placed. A higher rate of transfer could possibly indicate
    poorer matching.

Taken together, these indicators will give a sense of the overall performance of the EA, and may be useful in helping you decide when you are choosing an EA to help you with your needs.


4. Terms of Agreement When Engaging an EA

When you engage an EA, you will need to agree with what you are paying for and sign a service agreement.


It is important that you fully understand the terms and conditions of the service agreement before you sign it. Feel free to clarify with your EA on additional scenarios service agreement as well. As a guide, the service agreement must minimally contain the following information:


  • The validity period of the service agreement.
  • Breakdown of costs involved in hiring an MDW through your EA.
  • Circumstances under which you will be eligible for fee refunds and the timeframe within which you can expect that refund.
  • Circumstances under which you will be eligible for a replacement MDW (including the number of replacement MDWs you are entitled to, the timeframe within which the replacement should be made, and the recourse available to you should your EA fail to provide a replacement).
  • The avenues available for dispute resolution.


5. Reviewing of MDWs’ Biodata

The EA must provide you with MDWs’ detailed biodata – how old they are, where they come from, their names, their skills and so on. You may want to check with the EA on the steps they have taken to ensure the accuracy of the MDW’s biodata. It is the EA’s responsibility to ensure that any MDWs brought into Singapore meet the minimum entry criteria such as being at least 23 years old and having 8 years of formal education.


6. Can my EA withhold my MDW’s documents (e.g. passport)?

No, they are not allowed to do so. Once your MDW has started working with you, your EA must hand over to your MDW her travel documents and her work permit card. EAs are not allowed, even at the request of an employer or the MDW, to hold onto an MDW’s documents for longer than necessary for administrative processing.


The Process Of Hiring An MDW

You can:

  • Hire an MDW who has not worked in Singapore before, or
  • Hire an MDW who is returning to Singapore but is not here at the moment, or
  • Apply to transfer an MDW who is currently working in Singapore for another employer to your employment.

The flowchart below shows what happens in each scenario. For a more comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to hire an MDW and more information on processing matters, you may visit the following link: www.mom.gov.sg/apply-for-fdw.


1. Before you apply

  • The MDW must be at least 23 years old and have at least eight years of formal education.
  • You need to attend the Employers’ Orientation Programme (EOP) if you have not hired an MDW before. The EOP can be done online or through a classroom setting. For more information on the classes available, you may visit the link: www.mom.gov.sg/eop


2. Applying for an MDW

> For first-time and returning MDWs

  • You must submit a work permit application.

> For transfer MDWs

  • You must submit a work permit application together with written consent from the MDW’s current employer to transfer her to you as the new employer.
3. Getting ready

> For first-time and returning MDWs

  • You will receive an In-Principle Approval* from MOM that allows you to bring the MDW into Singapore.
  • Apply for issuance of work permit.

> For transfer MDWs

  • Both you and the MDW’s previous employer will receive the In-Principle Approval* from MOM which states the transfer date.
  • Apply for issuance of work permit.


In all cases, you must get the following:
(i) $5,000 security bond,
(ii) Personal Accident Insurance, and
(iii) Medical Insurance for your MDW.


You can buy these as a package from an insurance company or bank.


You are strongly encouraged to consider buying higher insurance coverage for your MDW’s hospitalisation needs. This can help you to cover unforeseen circumstances whereby medical costs higher than the standard insurance coverage are incurred. Ask your EA to explain the coverage of the standard insurance package they offer, and the options available for upgrade.


*The In-Principle Approval (IPA) is part of the Ministry’s pre–departure outreach to inform MDWs about their employment rights and responsibilities. To make sure MDWs understand the information, the letter will be provided in both English and their native language. The IPA has to be sent over to the MDW before she enters Singapore as she would need to furnish this document when entering Singapore. You or your EA must ensure that the IPA letter is sent to the MDW before she leaves her home country.


4. Final preparations

> For first-time and returning MDWs

  • You must send the MDW for:
    i) Settleing-in Programme within the first 3 working days of her arrival** (only applicable for first-time MDWs)

    ii) Medical Examination within 14 calendar days upon arrival. You can request and pay for additional checks if you feel that the checks covered by the mandatory
  • Request for issuance of work permit from MOM via the MDW eServices www.mom.gov.sg/fdw-eservices.
  • Make an appointment for the MDW to report to MOM Services Centre – Hall C
  • The work permit card will be delivered within 4 working days of successful card

** Excluding the day of MDW’s arrival in Singapore. Working days include Mondays to Saturdays, excluding Sundays and Public holidays.


> For transfer MDWs

  • You should ensure that the MDW’s current employer has sent her for a medical examination.
  • Request for issuance of work permit from MOM via MDW eServices www.mom.gov.sg/fdw-eservices
    The work permit will be delivered to you within 4 working days.
  • Your MDW can only start working for you after the new work permit has been issued in your name.

Choosing the right MDW

When selecting an MDW, think about why you need one (e.g. caregiving for an infant, young child, elderly person or housekeeping). Once you are clear on that, look for an MDW who is suitable. But be realistic – you may never be able to ask of her.


Tell your EA what your priorities are. You should ask to personally speak to and, if possible, meet up with the MDW whom your EA recommends. If she is overseas, ask your EA to set up a web or telephone interview. Read her biodata thoroughly. Ask the EA on the steps they have taken to ensure the accuracy of the biodata. Remember to ask your EA for any employment history she has in Singapore. EAs are obliged to provide this information to employers. You may also check the MDW’s employment history through MOM’s eService portal. You will need to have her work permit number. But if the MDW had not worked in Singapore before, there will not be any history under her record.


In your interview, ask the MDW questions that will verify the information given by the EA or in her biodata. Ask for her work experience to see if she is right for you and your family. It is also important to ensure that the MDW can speak a common language as you and your family so that she can understand your instructions.


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