Security Bond For Maids in Singapore
The Singaporean government requires employers of foreign domestic workers to take out security bonds for their maids. The bond is required for all full-time hires – except for helpers from Malaysia – irrespective of whether a domestic worker is employed through an agency or via a direct hire. Some countries, for example the Philippines, require additional security bonds for their workers.
Security bonds can be bought at banks and insurance companies across Singapore. The bond represents a binding pledge to pay the state up to S$5,000 should you break the law or not abide by your obligations as an employer.
These bonds are most often bought as insurance products, whereby the insurer undertakes to pay the government if you become liable to a fine. In this case, you will need to pay the insurer back afterwards. Note that you are not allowed to ask your maid to pay for, or contribute towards, the domestic helper security bond.
Many financial services companies allow you to package the security bond together with the mandatory medical and personal accident insurance for maids (minimum coverage of $15,000 and $40,000 respectively).
Packages can be bought online by submitting the personal details of your domestic worker and yourself. The financial institution will then supply the Ministry of Manpower with the policy details (this takes up to three working days). Basic plans, covering the bond and insurance policies specifically packaged for maids, cost around $250 a month.
Note that if you employ a Filipino domestic helper, you will need to take out a separate insurance guarantee bond with the Philippine Overseas Labour Office, worth $2,000 for hires through accredited maid agencies or $7,000 for direct hires. This can also be packaged together with the other mandatory maid insurance products, with monthly premiums usually between $35 and $80.
Be aware of the other rules associated with hiring maids from different countries. For example, maids from the Philippines and Indonesia must be paid at least $550 per month, according to laws set by their governments.
Forfeiting the security bond
You will be liable to forfeiting the $5,000 security bond – or at least a portion of it – if you contravene any conditions attached to the work permit or bond itself. This means you will be liable if you do not: pay the fixed monthly salary you declared in the contract; pay for things like your maid’s medical treatment; provide acceptable lodging; pay the foreign worker levy; send your maid for her bi-annual medical examinations; among other requirements.
You can also lose all or parts of your bond if you do not pay your maid her salary on time, or if you do not send her home on time when her permit becomes invalid.
Should your foreign domestic worker go missing, you will forfeit only half of the bond ($2,500) if you follow the correct process. You will need to file a police report and cancel her work permit within a week. After cancelling her permit, you will have a month to find your maid, otherwise you will lose half of your security bond.
When should I buy the security bond for my domestic helper?
You must buy the security bond before your maid arrives in the country. If the Ministry of Manpower does not have these details when your foreign domestic worker arrives, she may be refused entry and you will be liable for the costs of flying her back home.
Employers should also remember to register first-time maids for the Settling-in Programme before they arrive in Singapore.
When does my liability end?
You will no longer be liable for the security bond when you have cancelled the work permit of your maid and when she has returned home (provided you did not break any of the relevant rules relating to domestic worker employment).
Ultimately, you are responsible for your maid and for her wellbeing. Avoid any issues by complying with the relevant laws and conditions of her work permit. Also, employers should ensure that their domestic helpers are fairly treated, since some workers run away from their employers if they feel ill-treated (these employers will forfeit their security bonds and could be liable to further penalties).
Before starting the hiring process, make sure you are aware of the laws regarding domestic work. For example, you are only allowed to request your domestic helper to perform domestic duties. Asking her to carry out other duties can result in a fine. Also, consider that like all other workers, a domestic worker who is happy is more likely to be loyal to your family. Sometimes, you may want to send your domestic worker to a training course or to a business that offers first aid and medical care classes, particularly if you have small children. Maids who are more skilled will likely charge more, but they bring additional benefits to families.