It takes a village to raise children – there’s no doubt about the importance of support. One of the ways to have full-time help is hire a domestic helper (maid) for your family.
Are you planning to employ a foreign domestic helper in Singapore? The cost of engaging a maid goes beyond her monthly salary. Besides the idea of living with a stranger in your home, how much should you budget for hiring one?
Here’s a guide on the costs involved to hire a domestic helper in Singapore (FDW) to help you assess if you are able to afford the expenses:
- Maid agency fees
- Maid placement fee or loan
- Paperwork and administrative fees
- Monthly salary
- Maid levy
- Off days for helpers
- Living expenses
- Maid insurance in Singapore
- Other COVID-19 related costs
1. Maid agency fees
If you’re hiring a maid for the first time, the most convenient way is to go through a maid agency. A good maid agency will help you select the best candidate based on your family’s requirements. Besides accessing a pool of potential helpers and helping you to arrange virtual interviews, the agency will take care of the administrative processes. This that involves the MOM, the embassy of your maid’s country, booking of flight tickets and other documents.
To save some money, families can consider transfer maids who are already in Singapore instead of a new helper flying in from her home country. However, do find out the reason for the transfer.
Estimated maid agency fees: $1,000 to $3,000. Some agencies include 1 or 2 replacement maid options in their packages and their agent fees might be higher. If a company claims to offer the cheapest maid agency fee in Singapore, do your due diligence to understand what their fee includes and does not include.
2. Maid placement fee or loan
Most maid agencies have the maid placement fee or maid loan as part of their service agreement between you, as the employer and the agent. It works as a loan from you to the maid, so she can pay the agency to come to Singapore to work for you. According to The Straits Times: “Maids coming to Singapore from the Philippines should be using only up to half of their monthly salary to repay a loan of up to $1,100, which covers pre-employment expenses such as training and medical examinations.” In this manner, this amount is not exactly an expense to you since the helper will return it to you, but an upfront amount you will need to pay for.
3. Paperwork and administrative fees
The maid agency fee is a one-off payment, and other one-off expenses to budget for are maid insurance, airfare, medical screening. Medical examinations such as pregnancy tests, physical examination and STD tests are usually done in her home country and/or in Singapore before starting work at your home.
4. Monthly salary
The salary of a domestic helper in Singapore can range greatly based on several factors: her nationality, her work experience, and the number of day offs.
While there is no fixed minimum or maximum wage for a helper working in Singapore, those with more experience earn a higher salary.
Also, the nationality of the domestic worker plays a part in their minimum salary in Singapore too. For a maid from the Philippines, her starting pay may be $600. For an Indonesian maid, it could be $550; and for a Myanmar helper, it’s around $500.
Jenelle’s tips on domestic helper salary: ask around and check with different maid agencies and your friends to get a sense of salary range. Once the salary is fixed, any increment after the 2-year employment contract ends is negotiated between the employer and the helper.
5. Maid levy
Employers are subjected to paying the Maid Levy for their Migrant Domestic Worker. For hiring the first helper, the maid levy is $300; it’s $400 for the subsequent helpers employed. However, for families with children below 16 years old, you will qualify for a levy concession fee of $60. This helps ease the financial load for families with kids.
Jenelle’s working mum budgeting tips: In addition to enjoying the levy concession fee for migrant domestic workers, working mums can claim the Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Relief (FDWL) too!
6. Off days for helpers
Maid agencies have different off day packages for helpers. Some state 1 off day per month while others may extend 4 off days per month.
Everyone needs rest and so do our capable helpers. By end 2022, the MOM will implementing at least one mandatory rest day a month for migrant domestic workers. This cannot be compensated with cash and is in place to improve their wellbeing. Thus, do include this “hidden cost” when planning your budget to hire a helper.
7. Living expenses
This is probably one of the unseen costs incurred with another adult living in your home. Utilities, groceries, and transportation fees should be budgeted too when deciding if you can afford to hire a helper. Some employers pay for their toiletries, handphone bills or data plan too, so these should be accounted for in your financial planning. Likewise, if you and your family eat out or partake in leisure activities that includes your helper, these are additional costs to include too.
Jenelle’s tips on hiring a domestic helper in Singapore: To me, it’s important that my helper feels welcomed in our family and that we treat her with respect; just like we hope for the same with her. There are other “perks” of the job that go beyond dollars and cents, such as taking her out to a restaurant to celebrate her birthday, getting her Christmas gifts and even gifting Ang Baos during special occasions or even as year-end bonus. These are rewards to show our appreciation for her hard work.
8. Maid Insurance in Singapore
Did you know that maid insurance is compulsory for all helpers in Singapore? Employers are required to purchase medical insurance and personal accident insurance, and you can choose a suitable insurance plan. When buying medical insurance for your helper, ensure it comes with a coverage of at least $15,000 per year for inpatient care and day surgery during your helper’s stay in Singapore. Likewise for her personal accident insurance, there are mandatory requirements outlined by MOM,
If you’re hiring through a maid agency, maid insurance is usually offered. However, you may opt-out, then compare to get the best maid insurance plan that meets your helper’s needs and/or your budget. If you’re looking to get more protection and coverage that is most suited for your domestic helpers, feel free to reach out to me.
9. Other COVID-19 related costs
According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM): As of 24 March 2022, all fully vaccinated new and existing pass holders who enter Singapore under the General Travel Category border measures will have their COVID-19 treatment costs covered by our Government. Other limitations apply for those entering under Restricted Category border measures, so do check with the relevant authorities for the most updated regulations.
Personally, the only COVID-19 related costs incurred when hiring our Migrant Domestic Worker was the COVID-19 serology test in Singapore which cost around $85.60.
I hope that this guide to helping you understand the cost of hiring a domestic helper will come in handy. Additionally, if you’re wondering what is the minimum income needed to employ an MDW, the MOM has a basic criteria without revealing the actual sum. I’d be happy to share more of my experience on how to work out our family budgeting and financial plans to ensure that we are comfortable with setting aside the dollars needed.
MOM has revised the terminology for live-in household maids from Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) to Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW).
Note: All information outlined in this article is accurate as of July 2022.