Hiring a Filipino Maid in Singapore

The silent army of nearly 240,000 foreign domestic workers in Singapore, a third of whom are Filipino, manages the households of both local and expat families, in addition to taking care of children and pets. The hiring process and salary requirements differ depending on each maid’s nationality – and employers need to be aware of the different rules.

Hiring a maid from the Philippines

While there are foreign domestic workers from a range of Southeast Asian countries available, some employers prefer to hire helpers from the island nation of the Philippines, which is renowned for its friendly and caring people.

In general, Filipino domestic helpers are believed to speak better English than maids from countries such as Myanmar or Indonesia, while Indonesian maids are thought to be more likely to be able to speak Chinese.

There are specific procedures to follow when hiring a maid from the Philippines, as is the case for domestic helpers of other nationalities.

Generally, each sending country has its own rules regarding issues such as minimum pay.

As of mid-2016, domestic workers from Myanmar, for example, must be paid at least S$450 a month in accordance with Myanmar’s regulations. Filipino helpers, meanwhile, need to be paid at least $570 – the same rate as Indonesian domestic workers.

For all domestic workers (bar those from Malaysia), the Ministry of Manpower requires employers to take out a $5,000 security bond, as well as medical and personal accident insurance for their maids. If you are hiring a Filipino maid, you will also need to take out a separate $7,000 bond, as required by the embassy of the Philippines. The actual upfront costs of these security instruments is only a fraction of their face value.

Filipino domestic workers need to register with the embassy, a process that must be done through an accredited agency in the case of first-timers.

They need to apply for an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), which the Philippines government issues so that its workers are adequately documented and protected.

To secure an OEC, helpers need to have various documents, including an embassy-verified employment contract, work permit, passport, a two-way ticket or travel itinerary, proof of membership to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and a receipt showing Pag-ibig Fund membership contribution.

Finding a great domestic helper

When an employer is looking to hire a maid, there are various hiring options available. The employer can make use of a maid employment agency, which will also assist with the paperwork. Among the disadvantages of outsourcing such a large part of this important decision to an agency are that not all agencies act in the best interests of maids, while they often have limited databases and employers are not always able to find their ideal match. If you do decide to use a maid agency, you can check the Ministry of Manpower’s website to check the quality of different agencies.

In order to increase the chances of hiring a great maid, we suggest employers take the direct hire route. While finding the perfect match might take some time, it’s well worth the effort considering that maids will spend a great deal of time with your family, possibly even playing a major role in your kids’ development if one of your helper’s duties is taking care of children.

What duties can a maid perform?

Whether from the Philippines or Indonesia, domestic workers are only allowed to perform specific duties. The Singaporean government wants to avoid cheap competition with local workers and has therefore set limitations to the work permits of migrant helpers. As such, maids can only carry out domestic tasks for the employer who sponsored their work permit, and only at the address listed on the work permit. Domestic duties include cleaning, cooking and caring for children and the elderly, but not gardening, car washing or tutoring.

Domestic workers from the Philippines undergo training administered by the country’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). The training programme ensures helpers are able to perform expected household duties. If necessary, maids can also attend more specialised training courses in Singapore, such as cooking classes.

Employers should familiarise themselves with the regulations applicable to them – both those required by the government of Singapore and by the Philippines – and follow these closely. Employers must, for example, take out medical and personal accident insurance, as well as send their maids for bi-annual medical check-ups, and attend the Employers’ Orientation Programme.

Before hiring a domestic helper, employers can also inform themselves about the cost of hiring a foreign domestic worker, along with other important employment information such as the contract termination process.