Employers looking to hire a foreign domestic worker can use an employment agency or hire directly. In both cases, the employer should be aware of the main rules and regulations relating to hiring (and dismissing) domestic workers in Singapore.
Can I hire a maid without an agency?
Yes, you can hire a domestic worker without using an employment agency, though you will need an agency to handle the paperwork processing in some cases (for example, if you are hiring a first-timer from the Philippines).
Direct hires are cheaper than going through an agency, and also give both employers and foreign domestic workers more control over the entire hiring process. Fortunately, many of the required steps can now be done online – from finding the right candidate to applying for your maid’s work permit.
You can look for maids on the HelperChoice website and interview candidates before deciding on your most suitable match. Look for a maid with whom you and your family feel a connection and who you believe is capable of handling the necessary household chores and care duties. Once you have found a match, you can start applying for a work permit so that your maid can start her job as soon as possible.
When you are taking the direct hire route, you should ensure that your maid’s previous employer is willing to transfer her (if she is currently working for someone else). You should ask the candidate about this during the interview. If her current employer is not willing to transfer the maid, she will have to leave Singapore first before you can apply for her work permit. An employer may be more willing to assist with the transfer after speaking to you directly, so you might also consider asking for his or her contact details.
What do I need to do after I find the right domestic worker?
You can submit an application for your maid’s work permit either online or manually at a SingPost branch.
If you choose the online route, you first need to apply for a ‘SingPass’ to access the Singapore government’s e-services platform, if you don’t already have one. You will have to wait for your password to be delivered (this takes about two days by post).
Make sure you have your foreign domestic worker’s passport details, as well as your personal particulars and proof of household income at hand. It should take one working day to process the online application, and employers can check the status online. If approved, employers will receive an in-principle approval (IPA) letter or a letter of notification if the worker has not worked in Singapore previously. Be sure to send this letter on to your foreign domestic worker as she will need it to enter the country.
Next, you will need to buy the security bond (for a non-Malaysian foreign domestic helper). This represents a pledge that employers will pay the government up to S$5,000 if they break the law regarding the employment of maids. In addition, the employer also needs to take out medical and personal accident insurance for his or her foreign domestic helper. To make things easier, the bond can be bought as a package together with the other insurances. The insurance company will notify the Ministry of Manpower after the purchase, which can take up to three working days.
After the domestic helper’s arrival
After the maids arrive in Singapore, and if they have never worked in Singapore before, they must attend the Settling-in Programme (SIP), which costs the employer $75, within the first three working days. This is a training programme wherein the maids will be introduced to Singapore, the conditions of employment, safety in and around the house, and so on. Employers are advised to secure a training slot before their maids arrive.
If you have never hired a maid in Singapore before, you will need to take the Employers’ Orientation Programme (EOP). You can either do the EOP in a classroom, for $30 to $34.50, or online for $46. During the 3-hour EOP, you will be taught about your role as an employer of a domestic helper, as well as your obligations – such as buying the mandatory medical insurance and personal accident insurance. After you have attended the programme, you will have to wait at least two working days before you can submit the application for a work permit for your maid.
Besides the SIP, your maid must also undergo a pre-employment medical examination before her work permit can be issued. This should be done within two weeks and she must bring the Ministry of Manpower’s medical examination form with her. In the unlikely case that the foreign helper does not pass the medical examination, she will be expatriated.
You are now ready to apply for a work permit. On a cautionary note, employers should ensure that they meet the ministry’s requirements regarding the minimum income needed to be eligible to hire a maid. They can also check if they qualify for a maid levy reduction – for example, when hiring a maid to care for Singaporean children or elderly family members, employers qualify for the concessionary levy rate of $60 (as opposed to $265).