In Singapore, it is very common to see foreign domestic workers, commonly known as maids, residing in the homes of Singaporeans. Having maids in Singapore has become almost a necessity for some, considering the fact that in many households, both parents are working and the children are left unsupervised at home. The late hours put in by both working parents also often mean that they would require someone to cook, clean and sometime take care of their elderly parents in their home.
As an expatriate, you may realize that you might require a maid to reside in your home to assist with the daily chores. As the norm is in Singapore when hiring any foreigners, there are protocols to follow when hiring maids. It is important to know that foreign maids need to be on a proper work permit, awarded by the Ministry of Manpower. The majority of maids working in Singapore are from the Philippines and Indonesia. You are also only allowed to hire females, between the ages of 23 to 50, as maids in Singapore. However, if you are hiring a local Singaporean, male or female, to assist with your household chores, then neither a pass nor any protocols stated in this article, are required.
There are two ways to go about hiring a foreign maid in Singapore. One is to put in the application for a maid’s work permit and deal with the bureaucracy on your own and the other is to use the services of a maid agency. The benefit of putting in your own application would mean that you will be able to save money that would otherwise be payable to the agency. However, it will also mean that you will need to source your own maid and navigate through a whole lot of paperwork.
Using the service of a maid agency – while slightly costlier – is considered to be hassle-free, as the agency will have a database of pre-interviewed maids for you to choose from. The agency will also fully take care of all paperwork, from ensuring a valid passport for entry to securing of a work permit for your selected maid. In Singapore, agencies are readily available around the country, especially in the Katong area. Alternatively, you can look up the agencies through their daily advertisements in any local newspapers or online. It is recommended that you use the services of reputable maid agencies to avoid any misunderstandings with the agency and the maid.
In Singapore, in order to hire a foreign maid, you will need to be above the age of 21 and not be an undischarged bankrupt. The application process for a foreign maid can take from days to weeks, depending on whether the maid you have selected has the relevant documentations, such as her passport, ready. The person whom you are hiring as a maid should also not be in Singapore (i.e. not on a social visit pass or any other types of passes) before the Ministry of Manpower gives her an in-principle approval. The work permit that is usually awarded to a foreign maid is valid for two years.
It is important to note that Singapore imposes a monthly levy of $265 on the employer, on top of the monthly salary to the maid. Do enquire with the Ministry of Manpower or the maid agency to check if any schemes are in place that might offer you a lower levy. The employer must also be prepared to place a $5,000 security bond for the maid and purchase relevant insurances for her.
While it is rare that you will be able to find a local Singaporean to employ as a full-time maid in your residence, you may be able to find some Singaporeans who offer their part-time services, usually coming to your residence three times a week, to carry out household chores. You can try and keep a lookout in advertisements placed in newspaper and bulletin boards for such services.
However, as a word of caution, be careful when hiring someone claiming to be a local Singaporean, on a part-time basis. Do ensure that the person you are hiring has a Singapore residence or a PR, and is not a foreign maid or a social visit pass holder moonlighting as a part-time maid. It is illegal for a foreign maid to work outside of their designated place of employment. Breaching that law will mean stiff penalties for both the maid or social visit pass holder and the person caught utilizing their services.