Singapore has always been a popular tourist destination, but in recent times, it has also become one of the most important business and commercial hubs in Asia. As such, Singapore has a growing population of foreign workers. Settling down in a new country means having to adapt and learn the local ways at least to a certain extent. One of the most common questions that newly settled families and individuals face is that of domestic help. Since having a maid is not common all over the world, many people who move to Singapore have no prior experience of having a helper at home. However, employing domestic staff for help around the house is a common practice, especially among expats.
A maid can work part time or full time by visiting your house. Depending on the nature and amount of work you wish to delegate, your agency can advise you on the type of employment you may consider. Alternatively, you can also have a live-in maid, who resides with you and undertakes all domestic chores.Maid Agencies
There are a number of maid agencies in Singapore, who basically do the job of sourcing the manpower to meet your needs. You can find maid agencies that only supply maids from a certain country; while others may have a more varied database. Some agencies may cater to specific needs, such as a maid who can also deliver care to a disabled or elderly person, or maids with special experience in child care.
Although there are plenty of them in Singapore, this area can be a bit of a minefield, and it is not uncommon for people to have negative experiences with unlicensed agencies, or poorly trained maids whose contract must be terminated. The first step to finding the right staff that you can form a good and lasting professional relationship with, is that it’s important to know what to look for in an agency.
Make sure that the agency is licensed by the Ministry of Manpower to operate in the business. Most maid agencies have a database of transfer maids, who are already currently in Singapore, and overseas or ‘new’ maids. At the moment, approved source countries for foreign domestic staff are Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Malaysia and The Philippines and you can only hire an overseas maid from these countries.
Work Permit, Maid Levy and Repatriation
As foreign workers, overseas maids are required to obtain a work permit to live and work in Singapore. The Ministry of Manpower requires the employer of each foreign worker to pay a monthly levy for the duration of their work permit. This is currently $295 (SGD) per month. Families who have young children under the age of 12 or members above the age of 65 in the house are offered a concessionary rate of $200 per month. You can claim tax relief for the maid levy providing you meet the eligibility criteria.
A standard work contract is for two years, after which it can be renewed or the maid repatriated to their home country. The employer must pay for repatriation, and this is guaranteed with a security deposit of $5000. As it happens, it is also mandatory for the employer to purchase personal accident insurance for a maid.
Salary and Other Expenses
The usual salary for a maid in Singapore depends on the country of origin, and workers from some countries command higher pay than others. Different agencies have different pay scales, so to find out exactly how much you might be paying a maid, it is important to shop around and find the most reputable agency, with the most reasonable salaries. The salary for a maid also depends on the amount of experience.
The agency charges a commission or a fee, which is a flat lump sum. This could be in the region of $600 to $1200 (SGD). Other factors such as costs for medical screening, insurance, etc. can vary depending on your choices, and the agency can give you more information about this. First time employers are required to submit relevant documents before hiring a maid and these depend on whether you are a Singapore citizen or an expatriate employer.
Obligations as Employers etc.
Both domestic staff as well as employers have certain obligations towards each other, which are outlined in the contract. Both the maid and the employer must be happy with each other in order to form a lasting working relationship. Some agencies may offer transfer maids on a trial basis, where the maid works for a certain period free of charge until the contract is finalised.
Having a domestic helper is fairly common in Singapore and if you are an expat, it can be easy to find a maid. Remember, however, that it pays off to compare agencies, explore options, and seek recommendations and advice from the local and expat community.