Whether you have been residing in Singapore all of your life, or someone who have just moved to this small, developed city, the hectic lifestyle in this competitive country has made Singaporeans or permanent residents and expats turn to the hiring of foreign domestic helpers, known more commonly as maids in Singapore, to help cope with their household chores and babysitting their children or provide elderly care at home so they can be more committed to working and providing for the family. Employing a foreign domestic worker in Singapore is fairly easy and affordable as compared to other countries. The authority that governs the employment and hiring of maids in Singapore is the Ministry of Manpower. Most foreign maids working in Singapore are from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. The Philippino maids usually commands a higher salary compared to the Indonesian and Sri Lankan maids as they can speak English and are regarded as more favourable in the family especially when communicating with children since English is widely spoken in Singapore especially amongst the younger generation.
The easiest way to hire a maid is to go through a maid agency. The agency generally handles all paperwork related to local deployment, work permit applications, maid transfers in Singapore & other processing admin work, and ensures the prompt deployment of the domestic worker to your home. A typical maid agency fee or maid agency commission is around $400 to $500 in Singapore. If you wish to transfer your current maid, a typical transfer fee of about $400 to $500 will also be charged.
Other than paying a monthly salary to a foreign maid that you are employing, you are required to pay a monthly levy to the Singapore Government at a normal rate of Singapore dollars $265, or at a concessionary rate of $170. The Foreign Domestic Worker Levy is to be paid with effect from the day after the day the maid arrives at your premise. If this is your first time employing a foreign domestic helper, the levy is only payable on the 4th day of her arrival. This levy is payable at the end of every month; if your maid has not rendered a full calendar month of domestic service, the levy will be calculated on a daily rate (normal rate of $8.72 or concessionary rate of $5.59 per day), on pro-rata basis, i.e. for only the period she has worked for in that particular month. Payment for the levy has to be paid through a recurring account known as General Interbanking Recurring Order (GIRO).
The payment of Foreign Domestic Worker Levy is mandatory under the labor law; failure to do so or late payment of the levy can result in penalties for late payment, revocation of the existing work permit of the maid or even the pressing of legal charges against the offender.
How to apply for Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession
You may download a copy of the application form from the Singapore Ministry of Manpower website at the following link. Complete the form and submit it via the website’s iSubmit portal. Processing time takes up to two weeks and the applicant will be notified of the outcome by post. Before you proceed to apply for a levy concession, you have to ensure that you satisfy the levy concession conditions first. The conditions are imposed mainly for the benefit of those having young children of below 12 years of age and parents or in-laws of age above 65 years old who are staying in the same household address as the applicant. The above condition of above 65 years of age also applies inclusively to the applicant himself or herself and his or her spouse accordingly. The policies aim to assist in the care of the elderly and young kids and encourage citizens to stay together with their parents.
The average salary of a foreign domestic worker in Singapore ranges between SGD$310 and $550 a month. The wage of a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) depends on the nature of her job scope in the household under which she is employed, her past experience as a domestic helper, as well as her nationalities. Due to English proficiency, Philippino maids in general command higher salaries than the non-English speaking Indonesians and Sri Lankans. Also, those who are experienced in taking care of the elderly, young children or those who require special needs will also negotiate for higher salaries.
With effect from November 2012, new employers of Indonesian maids will have to sign a contract with the maid agencies to agree on a minimum salary of $450 per month payable to the maid. In addition, if Indonesian maids were to work on all of the four off days in a month (one day off every week), hirers will have to pay their maids additional $70 for that month or $17.50 a day for that particular off day she works on. The monthly salary should be credited directly via funds transfer to the maid’s bank account. It is encouraged that both the employer and the domestic worker each keep a record of the monthly salary payment for use as reference in case of future disputes. You can consider giving salary adjustment or wage gratuity after a certain period of employment to the worker to motivate or reward her for any service loyalty or good performance, to your discretion.
Myanmar has recently set a minimum wage for Burmese (Myanmar) maids who work in Singapore at S$450.00 a month, equivalent to the starting salary of Indonesian domestic helpers here. The minimum monthly wage for Filipino maids is set as S$500.00.
Government Security Bond
A SGD$5,000 security bond is a compulsory requirement by the Ministry of Manpower’s Work Pass Division, a regulatory control division dealing with the employment of foreign nationals in Singapore. The security bond is used to cover any costs and expenses relating to the repatriation of the maid such as temporary accommodation before repatriation, air ticket to send her back to her home country, etc. This security bond will also be forfeited if you fail to pay your domestic helper promptly. In cases where the maid absconds from you and repatriation is not possible for that time being, half of the security bond will be forfeited. The security bond will however not be forfeited in the case where the maid got herself pregnant, contrary to many employers’ understanding. If you want to avoid paying a $5,000 deposit all at once, you may purchase an insurance policy in payment of the security bond via an Insurance Guarantee. However do note that some insurance companies will still require you to pay up the $5,000 should you fail to repatriate your maid or commit any breach of the employment contract.
Hiring a foreign maid in Singapore will also require the employer to pay for her Personal Accident insurance and Medical insurance during her employment under you in Singapore. Personal Accident insurance for your foreign domestic helper is compulsory. The minimum sum insured is $40,000 Singapore Dollars. Accidents involving foreign domestic workers dying or injured in the course of their duty are on the rise in Singapore, hence it is critical you have personal accident covered for your maid so that in cases of deaths or permanent disabilities, herself or her beneficiaries will be compensated accordingly. You will have to be responsible for her medical needs and this includes all outpatient as well as inpatient expenses, i.e. hospitalization & surgical expenses. You can purchase the medical insurance from insurance companies such as NTUC Income Insurance, Anda Insurance and Augaries Insurance. The minimum insurance coverage for the medical insurance is $15,000 per year.
The requirements of a Foreign Domestic Worker
• The domestic worker must not be a foreigner who is on social visit or on a short term holiday visit pass to Singapore as this is not allowed to apply for a work permit
• She must be at least 23 years old and below 50 years old for first time foreign domestic workers for Singapore. For those who have worked as foreign domestic workers before, they have to be at a minimum age of 18 years of age and below 50 years old. The age limits apply upon the time of work permit application.
• She must at least possess 8 years of formal education and obtained educational certificates as documentary support of her educational qualification if she is a first-time foreign domestic helper in Singapore
• If required by MOM (Ministry of Manpower Singapore), she has to pass a MOM-stipulated test upon her arrival in Singapore prior to her obtaining her work permit. This is applicable to all first-time foreign domestic workers in Singapore
• A foreign domestic worker is allowed to work in Singapore for up to 60 years of age if she is medically fit for employment and has not violated and work permit conditions previously.
• All first-time foreign domestic workers in Singapore must attend the compulsory Safety Awareness Course within three working days after their arrival to Singapore
• All foreign domestic workers have to go through medical examinations within 14 days of arrival in Singapore and be certified as medically fit by a doctor registered in Singapore. They must also undergo a six-monthly medical examination during the period in which their work permits remain valid. Any of those who fail such medical examinations shall be repatriated immediately The requirements of an Employer of a foreign Domestic Worker
• All first-time employers of foreign domestic workers must attend the compulsory Employers Orientation Program before submitting the application for a work permit for the worker
• The employer must obtain an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter from the Work Pass Division (WPD), provided a security deposit of $5,000 in Bankers Guarantee/ Insurance Guarantee or in Cash, purchased a Personal Accident Insurance with a minimum coverage of $40,000 before his or her foreign domestic worker can enter Singapore
All work permits issued to foreign domestic workers are usually for a period of two years, provided that their passports are valid. The work permits can be renewed on a two-year basis. Renewal of work permit for the maid The employer will be notified by post in a Permit Renewal Notice around six weeks before the worker’s work permit expires. Employers can renew the work permit for your foreign domestic worker via an e-service on the MOM’s website, WP Online. If you did not renew the work permits before the expiry date, a penalty charge is payable, comprising a $100 fine and a $20 administrative charge.
Rest Days for Maids
A new legislation has been passed in mandating compulsory weekly rest days to all foreign domestic workers in Singapore with effect January 2013. Gone were the days when employers can choose not to give not to give any off days or only one day off in a month, especially mostly to Indonesian maids. Experts have cautioned that all work and no rest can drive an employee psychologically and emotionally unstable. In view of the safety of the small kids and elderly at home, it is advised that maids should get enough break from work in order to work more efficiently with a healthier state of mind and physics that are essential in the taking care of frail elderly and young children as such tasks can be stressful and demanding.
For those who are unable to grant off days to the workers due to family members who may require 24 hours of special care at home, employers can choose to pay their helpers in lieu in the form of monetary compensation.
Abuse of Foreign Maids
Foreign domestic workers are fairly well protected by the law in Singapore due to the increasing number of maid abuse cases. Offenders who are found guilty of abusing their maids will be prosecuted and will be banned from employing maids in the future if convicted. Abusing maids is a serious offence, apart from penalties and fines, imprisonment can also be charged. Voluntarily causing hurt, wrongful confinement, humiliation, outraging of modesty, rape & criminal intimidation are all serious offences and penalties amounting to a few thousands as well as jail term of up to 10 years and caning are all punishments in practice in Singapore.