Many people these days are so busy juggling work, social commitments and family life that keeping a home spick and span or having time to do the grocery shopping isn’t always possible. If you’re an expat in Singapore contemplating hiring some home help, then this is the guide for you! This article outlines the various options for home help, expected costs, tips on the hiring and interview process, your responsibilities as an employer and everything else that you could possibly need to know about getting a domestic worker.
What Is Home Help?
Home help consists of employing a domestic worker to help with a range of tasks and household chores such as cleaning, ironing, shopping, cooking and childcare.The majority of domestic workers in Singapore are from abroad, usually from countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia. Home helpers tend to be incredibly hard working individuals and more often than not have a family of their own to support.
Costs Of Home Help
Domestic workers in Singapore are quite affordable. Part time helpers usually cost anywhere from S$10 to S$20 an hour, while a full time, live-in domestic helper would likely cost in the region of S$450 – S$700 per month. Whilst this may sound expensive, families can often save money in comparison to paying childcare costs. The amount of time it could save you having a domestic helper is invaluable and will certainly be beneficial if you are already balancing a lot on your plate.
Domestic Help Hours
The number of hours your domestic helper works for will entirely depend on your requirements. You could opt to have a maid cleaning service a few times a week to lighten the load, or you could consider a full time live-in helper. By law, domestic helpers must be given at least one full day off a week. On the occasion where workers may be required to work on this day off, they must be fairly compensated. Many expats in Singapore give their domestic helpers every Sunday off, plus public holidays and an annual holiday of around two weeks.
Finding Home Help
You can choose to find domestic help through an agency or on your own. An agency will charge recruitment fees which can cost up to S$400. If you do decide to look for a domestic worker on your own, be sure to use a reputable source. Be vigilant in reading the most recent reviews on the agencies and websites that you are using. Visit the Ministry of Manpower website for help.
Hiring And Interviews
It is advisable to interview people that you intend to employ as a live-in domestic worker. If you are using an agency, ask if you will be given the opportunity to be included in the interview process.
Here are some tips to follow during the hiring/interview process, that will not only help you get practical information on a candidate’s skills but also give you an idea of their level of English as well:
• Always ask for written references and to speak to the candidate’s previous employers. It may be helpful to ascertain the reason for them leaving previous employment. For example, did the family leave Singapore? Have they hired another helper and if so why?
• If you are intending to have a domestic worker to help with childcare, ask whether they have completed a first aid course or have any knowledge of first aid. Consider asking them to explain a procedure to demonstrate they have adequate knowledge in case of an emergency.
• If you are looking for a home helper to cook meals, ask what their go-to recipe is. Can they talk you through the recipe, such as listing the ingredients and explaining how to make it?
• Get to know your domestic worker a little; ask about their situation and how long they intend to stay in Singapore. If you understand their situation, you will be able to offer your employee the necessary support.
As an employer of domestic workers, you are responsible for providing adequate accommodation and meals for your employee, as well as covering their insurance cover and medical care. In addition, you are expected to cover the costs of airfare for their home leave, and to give your employee an annual bonus.
Additional Points For Consideration
• It is illegal in Singapore for live-in domestic workers to do any additional part-time work for another family.
• You will be required to pay a one-off security bond of S$5,000 to the Singaporean government, in case you break the law or the conditions governing the employment of a helper. This needs to be purchased before the helper arrives.
• These bonds can be purchased in any bank or with an insurance company. Usually it is included in part of an insurance package for the worker that will also include medical insurance and personal accident cover. However, it is possible to purchase these separately.
• You do not need to pay the bond in full, but you do need to purchase a bond for every helper you employ, unless they are a Malaysian passport holder.
• Employers of live-in domestic workers must also pay a monthly levy to the Singaporean government of approximately S$265. The levy can be tax deductible if you are a working mother.
• You can apply for the monthly levy to be waived if your domestic worker is out of the country for a period longer than seven days.
• If this is your first time employing domestic workers, you will be required to complete a compulsory orientation known as EOP (Employer’s Orientation Programme). This can be done in person for S$30 or by taking a three-hour course online for S$40. In order to register for the online course you will need a Sing Pass. Further information can be found on the mom.gov.sg website.
Have you hired a domestic helper whilst living as an expat in Singapore? If so, share your experiences with other members on our Facebook group or in the comments below.