GUIDE TO HIRE A DOMESTIC HELPER
Most households are unique in their needs and it’s important for employers to understand the consideration factors in their hiring journey –
from the eligibility to hire, the different schemes and subsidies available and to the general profile of the foreign domestic helpers (FDWs).
We present to you a brief guide on making the more well-informed decision when selecting a domestic helper for your household.
Of course, these are general pointers and it’s always clearer if we can speak to you in person to better understand your needs.
Let us work together with you on your selection.
According to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM), nearly a quarter of a million households in Singapore employ the services of domestic helpers.
This translates to nearly 1 in 5 Singapore households employing a domestic helper to help them with general housework,
to cook and/or to look after the elderly, young children or family members with disabilities.
The benefits of domestic help are without doubt far-reaching but hiring a domestic helper is a big decision. Thus, employers should be clear on their household needs, and should familiarize themselves with the relevant hiring processes, Eligibility and Requirements before getting started.
AM I ELIGIBLE TO HIRE A DOMESTIC HELPER?
MOM will only approve an employer’s application to hire a domestic helper if they meet certain requirements. In order to sponsor a work permit,
the employer must be at least 21 years old, a resident of Singapore or holder of a long-term visit pass, must not be a bankrupt at the time of application,
and must possess a steady income.
Exceptions to the above may apply. For example, if the applicant is above 60 years old, does not have an income and does not live with
any other adults who are duly employed, it would still be possible to apply to hire a domestic helper. Applicants in such situations can apply under the
Sponsorship Scheme in the capacity of a prime applicant whereby the prime applicant’s child, grandchild or sibling can be the second sponsor.
An employer must also provide accommodation at their own house in order to be eligible to hire. A Single Person may apply, though the application depends on his/her overall care needs.
Employers must also follow several preparatory steps before they are allowed to legally hire the domestic helper. If you are a first time FDW employer, you must attend an Employer Orientation Programme (EOP) before you apply to hire a domestic helper. Refer to this Pre-hiring Checklist before deciding whether to hire a domestic helper, also available in Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.
In Singapore, many households select Indonesian and Filipino domestic helpers. However, households appear to be increasingly open to the hiring of domestic helpers from Myanmar given that the Myanmarese helpers have shown that they are equally capable. The following table lists the various costs you incur when employing a domestic helper from these countries.
1. MINIMUM MONTHLY SALARY
Depending on which country your domestic helper is from, the minimum monthly salary you can expect to pay will differ. An experienced domestic helper, regardless of her nationality, may request for a higher monthly salary.
Domestic helpers need to be between the ages of 23 and 50 at the time of your application. They must also have a minimum of 8 years of formal education with a recognized certificate. Find out more about the Eligibility Requirements of FDWs. First time domestic helpers must also register for the Settling-in Programme (which she must attend within three working days after arriving, as well as undergo a medical examination within two weeks of her arrival). Recruitbee will be able to assist in carrying out all these processes.
In Singapore, employers must also give their domestic helpers a weekly rest day. This rest day allows the helpers to catch up with friends and family, recharge in a different environment and contributes to the well-being of the helpers. There may be occasions where a weekly rest day may not be possible and upon the mutual agreement of the employer and their domestic helper, the employer may make alternative arrangements of pay in-lieu or arrange for another day off at another time. For example, if your domestic helper takes two days off each month, and works on the other two rest days, you should compensate her with two additional days of salary for the month.
Assuming her monthly salary is S$600, the two additional days would cost $46 ($600 divided by 26, multiplied by 2).
Employers are not allowed to deduct any amount from the monthly salary for meals, medical expenses, agency fees, work permit applications, or the domestic helper’s repatriation from Singapore (if and when applicable). When applying for the domestic helper’s work permit, employers must declare to MOM the domestic helper’s monthly salary and must pay the helper as per the declaration.
Employers must pay salaries within seven days of the last day of each month of work. Bear in mind that many domestic helpers send money home each month, so a timely payment of the salary will help the domestic helper in her obligations to her family back home and will go a long way in showing that you care and understand. Employers should consider wiring the salary to the domestic helper’s bank account in Singapore so that there is a record of payments which would be convenient for referencing if needed.
2. MONTHLY FOREIGN DOMESTIC WORKER LEVY
The current Foreign Domestic Worker levy is $265 per month or $60 per month for those who qualify for a Concessionary Levy. Families which qualify for the following schemes will enjoy the concessionary rate applies to families with:
Young Child/Grandchild Scheme
For families with a child or grandchild who is a Singapore Citizen, 16 years old or younger and living with the applicant.
Aged Person Scheme
For families with an elderly family member who is a Singapore Citizen, 67 years old and above and living with the applicant. The qualifying age for the Aged Person Scheme was raised from 65 to 67 in April 2019 in light of improving life expectancy of Singaporeans.
Person with Disabilities (PWD) Scheme
For families with a person living with a disability and who needs help with at least 1 activity of daily living (ADL), such as showering, eating, dressing or getting around. Alternatively, if the disability does not involve assistance with ADL, you can apply for a monthly grant to subsidise the levy cost of the FDW.
If you hire a domestic helper to care for a family member who requires permanent assistance with 3 or more ADLs, you may qualify for a monthly grant of S$200 under the Home Caregiving Grant.
About Home Caregiving Grant
Since 1 Oct 2019, the Home Caregiving Grant (S$200) has been made available for families which need to hire a domestic helper for caregiving services.
In order to qualify under this scheme, families need to go through a means test and the following criteria applies:
1. Applicant must be either a Singaporean citizen or a PR who lives in Singapore.
2. The household income per applicant is S$2,800 or less and the annual value of the property for a household without income is S$13,000 or less.
3. A family member must require permanent help with 3 or more ADLs.
If your situation warrants the financial assistance the Home Caregiving Grant provides, the domestic helper’s salary would be reduced as presented in the following example:
Say you are hiring a domestic helper for caregiving services at a monthly salary of S$600, you pay a decreased levy at S$60 and get a cash payout of S$200 to defray costs. This means you pay S$460 per month for the domestic helper’s salary (excluding other one-time expenses).
3. ONE TIME MAID RECRUITMENT AGENCY FEE
Besides the monthly recurring cost of salary to the domestic helper, you will also need to pay for other one-time expenses when hiring a domestic helper. Such one-time expenses include the maid recruitment agency fee and application fees, insurance costs, airfare for the domestic helper and the cost for the domestic helper’s medical screening amongst others.
The role of the maid agency is especially important if this is your first time employing a domestic helper and you do not have a specific helper in mind for the hire. It can be confusing and daunting for first-time employers hence the easiest way would be to speak to us. We are here to listen and advise our customers so that we can help you to place the most suitable domestic helper candidate for your home care needs.
Generally, the following are to be paid directly to the maid agency.
* All fees applicable as of 1 December 2019 and subject to changes (e.g. published rates by the relevant authorities, Recruitbee’s management and any other relevant third party providers). Fees indicated on the above table are in Singapore dollars.
Domestic helpers are not covered by the Singapore Employment Act and the Singapore Work Injury Compensation Act. In addition to the requisite Medical and Personal Accident Insurance which employers have to buy for their domestic helpers, there is also a mandatory S$5,000 security bond which employers have to take out. This security bond will be forfeited in the event of breaches in the employment rules.
Domestic helpers have to undergo a 6-monthly medical examination, a responsibility which employers bear. As such, many employers choose to take out more comprehensive insurance packages to cover the cost of these medical examinations.
Placement fee, sometimes commonly known as a maid loan is basically an amount which is a loan that you pay to the maid agency on behalf of the domestic helper. Think of this as what the helper is paying the maid agency in order to work in Singapore. This fee covers her pre-employment expenses such as training, documentation, lodging, and medical examination made to her Overseas Maid Training Centre and local maid agency s to assist her with her job search and application process thereafter. This placement fee or maid loan is not part of your cost and you will recover the loan through a fixed deduction from your domestic helper’s salary. The arrangement is a transparent one where the employer, the domestic helper and we are clear of each of our obligations.
As written in a Straits Times Article, a Filipino FDW coming to Singapore should be using only up to half of her monthly salary (maximum S$1,100) each time to repay a loan. Whilst the FDW would generally take about two months to pay the placement fee or maid loan to the Singapore Maid Agency, the FDW may have further payment obligations to the agencies in her home country.
In addition to various challenges (such as cultural differences), hiring a domestic helper comes with numerous responsibilities and various costs on the part of employers, though the benefits to your household and family can be immense. Besides providing your domestic helper with suitable accommodation in your house, paying her salary on time, and providing enough food, there are various other responsibilities to be aware of.
However, if you put in the adequate time and effort required to find the best domestic helper for your home care needs, and manage the working relationship with care, there will be mutual benefits for both your family and your domestic helper.