If you’re looking to hire a helper, you’ll need to be aware of the rules and regulations. How do you go about finding someone who will be a good fit for you and the kids? Which maid agency should you use? And more importantly, what are the costs involved? Use our guide for a smooth hiring process…
Where do most helpers come from?
Full-time helpers come from the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and, now, increasingly from India and Sri Lanka. Part-time helpers or cleaners are usually Singaporeans or permanent residents (PRs).
What is the difference between transfer maids and new maids?
Transfer maids have already been working in Singapore, and are merely transferring from one employer to another. Many new expatriates prefer to employ transfer helpers, as they tend to be more experienced and more conversant in English, compared to a new helper who has not been to Singapore and is still in her home country.
Transfer maids can be interviewed in person, unlike a new maid, but it is a good idea to ask the agency or the helper for the reason of the transfer or termination, so that you are aware of her job history.
How do you choose a reputable maid agency?
It is best to work with an agency who is accredited for good business practice by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case). Such an agency is 121 Personnel Services Pte. Ltd (www.121personnelservices.com), which specialises in helping expatriate employers hire domestic helpers. Accredited agencies tend to hold themselves to a higher standard since they are assessed by Case bi-annually. Moreover, if there are any complaints, the employers can bring it up to Case for further investigation.
What are the costs involved?
For part-time workers, such as those provided by A-Team Amahs and Cleaners (www.a-team.com.sg), there is a one-time agency fee starting from $338 for weekly cleaning. Says A-Team Marketing Manager Jean Ngiam, “Fees vary according to the house type, location and frequency of cleaning required. An hourly fee from $16 to $20 per hour is then payable, according to the duties that the person is hired for.”
For full time live-in help, there is a one-time cost of about $1,000 for hiring a transfer maid, and about $3,300 for a new maid. This one-time cost covers the agency fee, charges payable to Ministry of Manpower (MOM), medical fees, an insurance fee for transfer helpers, and the Employer’s Orientation Program cost to orientate new employers on how to treat foreign domestic workers (FDWs).
New helpers would also have others costs associated with their hiring, such as air tickets and transportation costs, overseas centre charges, embassy charges and cost of the Settling-In Program (SIP) for all first-time FDWs, to better equip them with basic knowledge about living and working safely in Singapore. Thereafter, recurring costs would include the helper’s monthly salary and maid levy payable to the Singapore government.
A helper’s salary can be anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per month, depending on her experience and nationality. The government levy is $265 per month for expatriates and PRs. Hospitalisation insurance to cover the FDW for the duration of the contract ranges from $249.95 to $299.95. There is also an optional Security Bond Protector of $53.30, protecting the employer in the event the FDW decides to go MIA.
How does selection take place?
Typically, agencies match the needs of the employers with the qualification and experience of their FDWs, ensuring that there is a match between the skillsets and personalities of both parties. Interviewing transfer maids face-to-face makes the selection process a lot easier and quicker, rather than getting a feel for someone from her bio-data or over the phone.
How long does the entire process from interviewing to hiring usually take?
Part-time workers typically only take two to three working days to be hired, whereas transfer maids can take anywhere from a week to a month, and new helpers take anywhere from one to three months.
Also, processing new employers’ paperwork takes longer, as they have to attend the Employer’s Orientation Programme, show proof of residential status in Singapore (in the form of a lease agreement), Employment Pass or Dependent Pass, and have a Company Letter indicating the employer’s position, commencement date of employment and salary.
Tips to smooth integration
All helpers, no matter how experienced, should be given a probation period to adapt to the new client’s needs, preferences and environment. Set clear boundaries to define the working relationship, with clear instructions to the helper.
Understand that the helper is human and will make mistakes from time to time, and that there will be cultural differences, where perceptions and values differ from yours. Most helpers tend to keep silent even if they are unhappy about something. So, make it a point to regularly check on how she is settling in and how to better improve things, if needed.
What happens if things don’t work out and the maid has to be sent back to the agency?
Generally, the agency would do at least one round of counselling for both the employer and the helper to help resolve any misunderstandings. The employer then has the option to either allow the helper to be transferred to another employer in Singapore, or to send the helper back to her home country.
Most agencies offer clients two free replacements within the guarantee period of six months. Says Karl Tan, owner of Inter-Mares Maid Agency (www.lucky.com.sg), “To minimise the inconvenience of a mismatch, we offer a replacement FDW within three months at a much reduced price, and give the prospective employer the option to extend the replacement period to six months for an additional consideration.”
I don’t need full time help. However, I would still like to engage in a home cleaning service. What are my options?
Homebreeze is a personalized home cleaning solutions provider for all your housekeeping needs. Be it a part time maid or housekeeper, Homebreeze is able to personalize a solution to suit your preferences and suitability. Visit http://www.homebreeze.com.sg/ for more information.
Axcel Cleaning Specialists can help you find part-time cleaning help for both residential and office environments. From regular cleaning sessions to occasional spring cleanings and even pre-move/post-move cleaning, Axcel can solve your cleaning woes. Visit http://www.axcelmaid.com/ for more information.
Helpling is a brand new home cleaning service that’s easy to use! Simply sign up on their website today and book a home cleaning session that caters to your needs. “Helpling is the one-stop home cleaning solution for you. Over at Helpling, we seek to create a clean place of happiness for you and your family and that time should be spent on the more important things in life,” says Lynette Chong, Business Development Manager at Helpling Singapore. Visit https://www.helpling.com.sg/ for more information.
To stand a chance to win a cleaning session from Helpling worth $60, click here to participate in the giveaway!
By Priyanka Elhence, The Finder, May 2015