28 May 2018

Cost to hire a domestic maid (FDW)

Content page - All topics
Special Needs.2
Who earns lesser than FDWs?
What maids did? Part 5
Finding a suitable transfer maid
My 4th filipino FDW (JA)

How much do you have to earn to hire a foreign domestic worker in Singapore?  Straits Times/AsiaOne, 26 May 2018
According to the Ministry of Manpower, there were 246,800 foreign domestic workers working in Singapore as of 31st December 2017, comprising 18 per cent of the foreign workforce in the country.

Not only that, as the demand for foreign domestic workers grew, their bargaining power also has been growing as well, translating into higher salaries and better protection through comprehensive insurance packages.

While this is a good news for the helpers, it could conversely result in higher costs for households in Singapore. Then, just how much does one have to earn to afford a FDW in Singapore today?

According to our research, it costs about S$1,400 in one-time fees just to hire a maid foreign domestic worker. Most households hiring a helper for the first time usually go through maid agencies as they take care of all the paperwork and can also help out with mediation if things do not work out between you and your new FDW. Hiring a helper on your own is definitely cheaper, but you have to be prepared to handle the application process and might have no recourse in case you need to change the hired help.

(Winter:  Food only $300 which means only $10 per day - 3 main meals!  Instant noodles and biscuits used to calculate, no meat or fish, is it?  Minimum salary is $550/month, $530 is certainly not for Filipino or Indonesian fresh FDW.  What about home leave when FDW completes her contract?  You mean FDWs aren't encouraged to re-contract?  Also, accommodation is not listed.  FDW encouraged to sleep on the floor?  Who provides a shared/private room, mattress/bed, etc?  Not calculated as part of hiring cost - you felt money drops from the sky?  This kind of illustration will make ignorant people/activists misunderstand, thinking employing a FDW doesn't cost much, ie Employers aren't paying enough to hire FDWs)

Typically, you can expect to spend another S$1,200 per month on various things like salary, insurance and living expenses. Usually, a FDW's salary is pegged to her nationality with certain countries stipulating a minimum monthly salary for hiring FDWs from them.

In fact, the median salary for new workers is actually quite close to the minimum requirement. However, a FDW's salary can also vary depending on their experience, and can increase to up to S$1,000 per month in some cases. Also, hiring new helpers often requires a up-front payment in the form of placement fee, which is usually equivalent to 2 to 5 months of FDW's salary.

However, this fee is subsequently deducted from the maid's salary in monthly instalments for the agreed time period. Also, Singaporeans who live with an elderly person, a child or a person with special needs can apply for a concessional rate of FDW levy at $60 per month in case, which will reduce your cost to $1,000 per month and $12,000 per annum.

Average monthly cost of hiring a FDW in Singapore is about S$1,200 per month. 
Given the relatively high cost, how much money do you actually have to earn to afford hiring a foreign domestic worker? According to our analysis, your net income after CPF contribution should be about S$6,000-S$7,000 per month to sufficiently afford a full-time domestic helper.

This amount would be able to cover most of the costs associated with hiring a maid on top of the $4,839 an average household spends on food, transportation, education, clothes and entertainment. Given that the median gross income in Singapore excluding CPF contribution is about S$3,500, this would imply that households with only one member earning an average or below average salary cannot afford to hire a full-time helper. However, families with 2 working adults earning an average salary should be able to afford hiring a domestic help with some financial buffer to spare.

Income required to afford a FDW in Singapore is about S$7,000 per month. 
In fact, most households in Singapore are earning more than the above amount, with the median household income of S$9,023 per month.
(Winter:  median gross salary in Singapore excluding CPF is $3,500 is bullshit!!  Not everyone are high earners.  I don't have this as household income and have to set aside costs to employ a FDW for my special needs teen.  Every cent counts, don't anyhow publicize statistics and let others think employers are earning a lot .... rich, a lot of spare money) 

Nevertheless, certain jobs definitely pay better than others, making it easier for some to afford the extra help at home than others.  For example, the median wage excluding CPF contribution was the highest for financial & insurance services at about S$5,500, while it was the lowest for accommodation and food services at less than S$2,000.

Govt to increase maid levy for non-concessionary employers, TODAY, 19 Feb 2018 
To ensure demand for foreign domestic workers (FDWs) is commensurate with need and avoid overreliance on maids, the Government will be increasing the FDW levy for a small group of employers who do not qualify for concessionary rates, or who employ multiple FDWs, from April next year.

Announcing this on Monday (Feb 19) at the reading of the Budget statement, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the levy rate for the first FDW employed without levy concession will be raised from the current S$265 to S$300.

For the second FDW employed without levy concession, the rate will be increased to S$450.
The concessionary levy rate of S$60 per month remains unchanged.

The FDW levy is a pricing mechanism aimed at regulating the number of such workers in Singapore. Mr Heng told the house on Monday that in the last decade, the number of FDWs in Singapore has gone up by 40 per cent, to 240,000 last year.  “We must ensure that FDW demand is commensurate with need, and avoid an over-dependency on FDWs,” the minister added.

Majority of Singaporean FDW employers — about 80 per cent — currently benefit from the levy concession under three schemes.

Employers with young children or grandchildren under 16 years old who live with them are eligible for the concessionary rate.  Those living with a person with a medical condition who needs help with at least one activity of daily living — like showering or feeding — can also qualify for concessionary rates.

Finally, under the aged person scheme, the employer, or the employer’s parents, parents-in-law, or grandparents, are eligible for the discounted rate, provided they are Singaporeans or Singapore permanent residents residing at the same address.

Given the improving life expectancy and health of Singaporeans, Mr Heng also announced on Monday that the qualifying age for levy concession under the aged person scheme will be raised from 65 to 67.  However, households with persons aged 65 and 66, who have enjoyed or are enjoying the concessionary rate before April 1 next year, will not be affected.

The regulation of foreign worker numbers in the Republic also got a brief mention on Monday, when Mr Heng announced that the Foreign Worker Levy rates would remain unchanged across all sectors.

The earlier announced increase in levy rates for the marine shipyard, and processing sectors — meant to kick in from July 1 this year — would again be deferred, for the third year, with rates to be announced next year.

The move was among the raft of measures the Government is announcing to help businesses here tide through near-term challenges, said Mr Heng.  To help “plug the gaps” in developing Singaporean’s capabilities, the Government will also be piloting the Capability Transfer Programme, aimed at supporting the transfer of skills from foreign specialists to Singaporean trainers and trainees.

“As we develop our people’s capabilities, we may find that skillsets in certain important fields are lacking,” said Mr Heng, adding that the Manpower Minister would be providing more details at the ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.

$6k bond needed for Indonesian maids from Feb 1, The New Paper, 25 Jan 2018
Employers of Indonesian maids will have to spend $70 more when hiring a new helper or renewing a contract from next month.  They have to make this one-off payment to an insurer for a new performance bond of $6,000 that the Indonesian Embassy is implementing from Feb 1.

Employers will have to pay the full $6,000 only if they breach the terms of the employment contract issued by the embassy, for instance, by failing to pay the maid's salary on time or abusing her.  When such breaches occur, the insurance company will pay the embassy first and subsequently claim the sum from the employer.

A spokesman for the Indonesian Embassy told The Straits Times that the bond is to better protect Indonesian migrant workers here by ensuring employers abide by the contracts.  The current contract terms include buying personal accident insurance for the helper, allowing her to practise her religion and not allowing her to clean the exterior of windows in high-rise homes.

The spokesman said the contract is being reviewed and will be finalised by Feb 1.  The embassy believes this new bond will not hinder the hiring of Indonesian maids, she added.

An estimated 120,000 Indonesian maids work in Singapore.  The embassy here is the first Indonesian embassy to impose such a bond, said the spokesman, who added that no particular case had sparked the initiative.  The embassy "is constantly looking at ways to better protect its citizens", she said.

The Philippine Embassy here has had a similar bond in place for more than two decades. Employers pay about $40 to an insurer if they go through a maid agency, in lieu of a $2,000 bond.

Aside from the country-specific bonds, employers also have to buy insurance for the $5,000 security bond required by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM).  When contacted, an MOM spokesman said the ministry is aware of the Indonesian Embassy's bond and is "seeking clarifications on the matter".

Maid agents said the rule will lead to higher costs for employers.  But the amount is not prohibitive, noted Singapore Accredited Employment Agencies Association president Lim Chee Chong.

Orange Employment Agency owner Shirley Ng said employers would have to abide by the embassy's rules, or choose helpers of other nationalities.  Ms Sheena Kanwar, executive director of migrant worker advocacy group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, said the move seems well-intentioned but does not help change the negative feelings some employers have towards maids.  "To change the culture and attitudes of employers, we need a more sustainable measure than bonds or adding bureaucracy," she said.

Some employers said it would be onerous to handle separate bond policies by both Singapore and foreign governments.  "Extra cost is never welcome to employers," said housewife Beatrice Mitschke, 47, who is thinking of hiring a new Indonesian maid later this year to help with chores and care for her elderly father.  Mrs Mitschke said the MOM bond already covers a "pretty comprehensive" range of issues, and suggested the two governments have a combined bond instead.  Another employer, jeweller Eileen Tjandra, 48, suggested the embassy impose the bond only on employers hiring maids who are new to Singapore.  "Those who have worked here before are more savvy. They know their rights and won't accept not being paid on time anyway," she said.

Minimum pay for Filipino maids to go up May 1: Philippine embassy, Channel News Asia
From May 1, the minimum salary for domestic workers from the Philippines will be raised from S$550 to S$570, the Philippines Embassy’s Overseas Labour Office (POLO-SG) said on Friday (Mar 31).  

In a notice to its more than 200 accredited employment agencies, the embassy’s Labour Attache Ramon Pastrana said this is due to the “fluctuation of exchange rates of the USD” in relation to the Singapore dollar.  The last revision for the minimum salary took place in 2012, where it went up from S$500 to S$550.  

Singapore has about 240,000 domestic workers and about 70,000 are Filipino.  The Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) said the salary revision was not unexpected, on the back of several meetings and discussions between the Labour Office and employment agencies.   “It’s not just about increasing the salary," said the association’s president, K. Jayaprema. "It’s still pegged to US$400, but because there’s an increase in exchange rate, this is a natural progression.”  (Winter: the Embassy contract that I signed in Mar for my FDW's OEC home leave, stated S$550 per month.  I do hope MOM can protect the employers but based on the usual practice, employers will eventually be made to part with more money but get more princess-attitude FDWs.  I have no choice.  If PAP govt is able to provide daycare centres for teens then I can be freed from the clutches of maid agencies, source countries and arrogant/bad performing FDWs.  It isn't easy to raise a child/youth with special needs, no substantial subsidy, thus, dual income is needed. Read)

But Ms Jayaprema acknowledged there would be “some concerns” among employers.  “Singapore employers are kind of price-sensitive, whether it’s about employment agency fees or salary,” Ms Jayaprema said. “And it’s not just about the basic salary. There will be a little bit increase in the compensation rate for the rest day.”

At least one maid agency Channel NewsAsia spoke to was in favour of the revised salary, saying it could help attract more high-quality domestic workers amid competition for such maids in Hong Kong and the Middle East.   (Winter: Hard to believe high salary = high quality FDWs.  Modern FDWs are net savvy, pampered and are brainwashed to place work performance to be the lowest, certainly not a KPI nor a "requirement to stay employable") 

“To stay competitive, we need to increase the salary, otherwise we will not have enough supply,” said Raymond Maids Employment Agency manager Matthew Lee.  “Currently, maids in Hong Kong have a higher salary, about S$770 equivalent,” he added. “With this increase in salary, we are able to attract more volume and better calibre maids into Singapore.”

Besides the pay increase, Mr Pastrana also spelled out the Labour Office’s plans to take a tougher stance on employment agencies who collect “placement fees” by deducting a portion of a maid’s salary.

Placement fees are service fees paid to the agency for its work in facilitating employment for the domestic worker. This includes paperwork and negotiations with prospective employers, among others.

Currently, under Philippine law, agencies are not allowed to charge any placement fees to domestic workers. But in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower allows agencies to deduct up to a maximum two months' worth of a domestic worker’s salary for placement fees. Agencies may choose not to deduct any amount as well.

According to the notice, the Labour Office “received reports that employment agencies in Singapore continuously charge Filipino domestic workers placement fees through salary deductions of one to eight months”.  "Due to this alleged blatant disregard of Philippine laws and regulations and despite the many briefings conducted by POLO-SG to address the situation, POLO-SG hereby announces the following policies to take effect immediately,” it said.

These policies include “immediate suspension of documentary processing” for agencies who collect placement fees through salary deduction. All accredited agencies will also be required to submit updated name and contact details and salaries of domestic workers, as well as the name and contact details of their respective employers.

Winter: why don't tell source countries to stop "selling" their own people?  You should stop marketing your own people, treat them like humans, allow these women to be interviewed and have the rights to say no AFTER reading the host country contract, including the costs imposed by agencies/middleman and job scope (for that particular household, not a standard list) BEFORE employers process employment.  In return, any FDW who is found cheating employers, deliberately unwilling to deliver an agreed job, has to be fined/punished.  No excuse, don't cry and claim FDWs have no money or didn't know.  

Source countries and Activists: Stop playing saints and prey on innocent parties, remove your wolf skins.  If you've brains and really want to put a stop, stop accusing others of committing modern slavery or human trafficking (read).  Having a demand for FDWs, don't mean you should blame the employers, become unscrupulous and evil.  Get to the root of the problem and not find ways to milk the defenseless employers (we've no NGO, no pro-employer govt/organisation).

Feb 2016
Source country Indonesia and Philippines expect newbies (inexperience maid) to be paid S$550 from year 2016.  

Hope my current maid won't feel I've deliberately short-changed her and can patiently wait for her contract renewal increment, next year.  Brainwashing myself, if JA wants to leave me for a higher salary (market rate for experience maid is above S$600/month with 4 off days), may be 'good' for me because her performance has deteriorated, time to get a new maid by the decree of god/the mighty ones up there.  She chose to leave me, I didn't fire her or stopping her for greener pasture.  It is JA's choice to stay in comfort zone or take up new challenges. 

Yes, I have the constant urge to give her a special pay increment to match market rate .... also the levy has been discounted but with JA's performance, I really can't make myself do it.  A special reward/increment that would make her misunderstood she had been doing a great job.... better not, I rather take the risk of losing JA, face the consequences - to source, feed maid agency and retrain a new helper... gamble again. 

With JA's current employment, meaning able to work for the same employer for more than 2 years, I believe JA's chances of finding a new employer is higher than before.... probably can cherry pick, list her basic requirement such as using her mobile phone 24/7...

Maids/FDWs are paid to work and entitled to home leave benefits upon completion of a 2-year contract so they are definitely not slaves.  Slaves have no human rights!  Slaves can't make life choices, change employer nor often challenge their employers.  Would anybody fly all the way to become slave? Persons with brains will choose to work in a place that is less favourable than home country?  There are many hidden costs to employ a FDW so don't believe others, especially activists advocated employing a maid (FDW) is dirt cheap, they are under paid, etc!

11 Aug 2015
Cost to employ a Filipino maid, DIY
one way ticket$100
taxi to airport pick FDW$50
IPA (MOM employment letter)$0
Work Permit & collection$50(WP can be mailed to employer's house)
Medical screening+ FDW pick up $120
24 months insurance$300
Agency inflated the costs 4.8 times, making each FDW pay about S$3400, equivalent to 7 to 8 months free labour.  This cost doesn't include employer's agency fee of $800 to $1800.   If FDWs can be direct hired, the costs can be greatly reduced.

Recently helped my in law to get an Indonesian maid.   Below is the cost for an ex-Sin maid.

I don't have a choice so employing maid is my only way to have my own income and survive reasonably in Spore.  Are you in the same bad situation as me?  Employing a maid isn't something to boast about or a chance to feel you're the top ones.  FDWs may not good helpers but trouble makers and nerve wreckers.

Under the Standard Employment Contract, with effect from 1 October 2015, Hong Kong Government stated the DH Minimum Allowable Wage is set at HK$4,210 (S$754) per month for foreign domestic helper, $100 increase from HK$4,110.  Most of the domestic helpers are experience maids .... painstaking trained by Sg employers.  DH can typically be charged placement fee around HK$31,000 to 37,000 (S$6700÷754=8 months free labour) in total.... a sum to be paid by maid in full or instalments, not employers foot on behalf and deduct using FDW's months of service - in the form of maid loan.

In HK, if Employers are not providing free F&B to the maid, all they need to do is to pay their domestic helpers (DH) about HK$995/S$182 per month.  This is definitely cheaper than providing food because some FDWs prefer expensive food.  By giving them the money, they have to be less fussy and control their expenditure.  

Shocked to realised I have been paying the full maid levy of $265 per month.  Am I not a citizen?  How come I need to pay full maid levy?  What happened to the concession of $170?  Emailed MOM and found out once my girl turned 12 years old, employer has to pay $265 per month.  

The MOM officer who rang me said I can apply for PWD (Persons with Disabilities).  Both $120 FDW Grant and PWD Concession were administered by AIC.  I didn't know my concession has expired so I paid $265 for more than half a year.  These were under AIC's portfolio yet nobody informed me.... just want to say there were subsidies out there but we were not given the linkage or an all-in-one service.  Govt expects me to know everything and then go thru the hassle to apply one by one.  There isn't a caring centre which provides one-stop solution.  I hope my blog has helped some clueless people and 'saved you' some headless search, financial and time wastage.

The next furious thing was I wasn't given $120 FDW grant for 2 months because the grant has expired and AIC didn't send me any letter about it.  I thought this grant is forever.  Ok, I forgot PAP govt doesn't spoon feed nor do they give long term support.  Sent an email about all these 'inconveniences', MOM and AIC are looking into it and hopefully I'll get back some backdated concession next month.  

From $265 to previously $170 and now $60 as maid levy per month .... cheap so are you encouraged or tempted to employ a FDW?

From May 2015, levy concession for a foreign domestic worker is $60 per month.  You can get levy concession if you hire a foreign domestic worker (FDW) to care for a child, elderly person, or person with disability living at the same registered address as you.

As an employer of an FDW, you may be eligible for the concessionary levy rate of $60 per month if you are under any of these schemes:

  • Young child or grandchild scheme
  • Aged person scheme
  • Persons with disabilities scheme

Enhanced the qualifying criteria to include employers with Singaporean children or grandchildren below the age of 16 (instead of 12)

For details, check out the Factsheet and FAQs on Enhanced FDW Levy Concession.
The levy concession for 1 FDW is granted based on 1 eligible person in the household.
You can apply for the concession for up to 2 FDWs (for 2 eligible persons in the household).  The concessionary rate will take effect from the 1st of the following month after the application is approved.

From May 2015, I am paying $60 maid levy.  PWD, this scheme enables families who employ full-time FDWs to look after their loved ones with disabilities to pay a lower monthly concessionary FDW levy of $60 (instead of $265).  By applying this, seemed like I don't have to worry once my girl reaches 16 years old, my concession is gone!

Medical assessment:
A Singapore-registered doctor must certify that the care recipient needs permanent assistance in at least one Activity of Daily Living (ADL). The six ADLs are:
• Showering / bathing
• Dressing himself / herself
• Feeding himself / herself
• Toileting
• Transferring from bed to an upright chair/wheelchair or vice versa

• Moving indoors from room to room on level surface

Download your current and past levy bills. See the levy breakdown for your foreign workers.  Check and pay foreign worker levy here

FDW Insurance

Singapore Budget 2015: Foreign maid levy concession halved to S$60 from May 2015, 23 Feb 2015, Business Times
The government will halve the foreign domestic worker concessionary levy to S$60 per month from May 1 this year, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Monday.

The levy will also be extended to households with children aged below 16, up from below 12 today. Some 144,500 households will benefit and this move will cost the government about S$125 million per year.

The changes to the levy, said Mr Tharman, will provide support for middle-income families that are taking care of their children and elderly parents.

预算案10措施扶助中产家庭, 24 Feb 2015  联合早报




No choice but to pay high price set by maid agencies, say Malaysian employersStar/Asia News Network, 24 Jan 2015

Many employers say they have no choice but to pay the high price set by maid agencies because they cannot cope without the extra pair of hands at home.

A 65-year-old businessman who wanted to be identified only as Simon, said while the official price for an Indonesian maid was about RM7,800 (S$2,911), he had to pay an additional RM5,200 cash to the agency.

Forking out more for Indonesian maids in Malaysia"There was no receipt for this extra sum, but I did not have a choice because I have two elderly parents at home who need special attention.  "I cannot take care of them by myself, so I paid the extra charge," he said.

Wong, a 46-year-old teacher who declined to give her full name, said it did not make sense to pay so much when most of the maids had to be taught from scratch by their employers.  "It's too much. I paid nearly RM18,000 all in all for my maid and she can barely communicate with me and doesn't even know how to do simple tasks such as washing dishes," she said.  (Winter: same predicament of Spore employers.  Paid fees for a so-call trained in Indonesia, yet maid doesn't know how modern Spore homes do housework or take care of children.  Why employers must pay so much as agency fee and salary for a FDW who has to be trained by us, from scratch?  Some are slow learners, some are stubborn or willful princesses, more and more FDWs are just to play hard and hook on their mobiles doing private things during the day (giving excuse this is the basic respect to treat her as a human).  Even if Indonesia govt wants to upgrade its lowly educated women to work in Spore as skilled workers ... evil intention that do not benefit its own lowly educated women and FDWs' employer ... merely an excuse to jerk up salary and earnings.  How skillful can these women become?  It is just another way to get more money from employers.  We know the local training is irrelevant or not useful to most of modern Sg employers.... I really hope Sg govt can give me an affordable and nearby special needs childcare centre so that I don't need to rely on FDW and can work with peace of mind.  It is not a luxury to have FDW.  It is no fun nor a joy to have a live in FDW who has a irresponsible mindset and bad working attitude.)

She said she had gone through five other maids prior to the current one and noticed that each would stay for about three to four years before leaving to work in other countries, such as Taiwan and Singapore.

"It is like Malaysia is their training ground. We teach them how to communicate and how to perform the daily tasks and once they have the necessary skills, they leave for greener pastures," she said.
A maid agency owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, said Malaysia was one of the lowest paying countries in the region for Indonesian maids.  (Winter: same predicament of Spore employers)

"In Singapore, they get about RM1,300 a month and about RM1,500 in Taiwan. In Malaysia, we pay them RM700 to RM800.  "Obviously they would rather work in the other countries," he said.

Also, he said, the demand for them in Malaysia was so high that the Indonesian agents took advantage and charged a premium.  He also explained that previously, the process for acquiring a maid was conducted between a local agency and an agent in Indonesia who would hire a sub-agent to source for the maid.

"When there was that huge shortage in maids, starting from 2009, many Malaysian agencies resorted to dealing directly with the sub-agents and overpaid them.  "Now, these sub-agents have come to expect that kind of money even when they deal through Indonesian agents," he said.

The sub-agents also claimed they had to pay more to a prospective maid's family to convince them to send their daughter to work in Malaysia, according to the Malay­sian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies.

Oct 2014
This suggestion was suggested in the news (ST Forum) but MOM has no intention to take up.  I have also emailed MOM two years ago about giving FDWs who have decided to recontract with same employer, a bonus based on the levy that employers have contributed to MOM.  

Obviously, MOM's reason to use levy to control the number of FDWs is not justifiable.  It is all about profiting from employers and FDWs.  As I have always stressed, the cost to hire a FDW is not just a salary of $450-$600 per month.  There are monthly MOM levy, non refundable agency fee and live-in costs that anybody with eyes and brains should not overlook.  When activists fight for FDWs, they just want to zoom into the monthly salary.  Every employee has to spend on food (who lives with just air only?), drinks, transport, healthcare, need a roof (accommodation), costs on well-being, etc but maid doesn't need to pay so means these costs shouldn't be factored in to employ her?  Ridiculous isn't it? 

Give levy sum to maids at end of contract, Straits Times Forum, 6 Oct 2014
My helper has been commenting on the gulf between the pay of maids in Singapore and those in Hong Kong, which is roughly equivalent to the levy imposed by the Manpower Ministry.

Many of her friends, especially the more capable ones, have no difficulty securing employment in Hong Kong after gaining experience here. They are attracted by an immediate pay rise.

Fewer than half of all maids here stay with their employers for more than a year, and this presents many challenges for families, who have to keep searching for a replacement ("Fewer maids remain with same boss for a year"; Dec 8, 2012).

If the reason for the levy is to limit the number of maids here, the Manpower Ministry could continue with it, but return the accumulated sum directly to the domestic helpers, say, at the end of their two-year contract.

This may help improve the retention of maids, as it provides an incentive for our helpers to stay for at least the duration of the two-year contract.  It may also encourage the capable ones to continue working here, instead of going to other countries which offer better pay.

Our helpers deserve to be paid no less than what others are enjoying elsewhere for doing basically the same kind of work.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

Facebook comments:
Cynthia Tan ۞  I rather give maid levy money to my helper than govt.

Edwin Tan ۞  If MOM rejects this suggestion, good reasons should be provided.

Ange Wong ۞  Comparison is never ending.. when you satisfy this point, u hv another to deal with. Not happy with the offer here, pls go elsewhere. Since HK is great in their eyes, by all means find a job there. let them hv a taste of how much HK govt will look after them in terms of maids' rights.

HuiLin Heng ۞  Maids rights is great in HK. Min pay reviewed every year, paid annual leave, long service payment, severance payment, PH leave,
Mandatory Sunday leave. Yes that's why they want to work in HK.

Ange Wong ۞  Then they shd go. .pasture is always greener on the other side. We as employers will wish them all the best

Jenny Chao Ka Chan ۞  What they fail to mention is that generally in Hong Kong, maids don't have to live with their employer. If u factor in rent and transport costs, life may not be necessarily better in Hong Kong.

JS Augustino ۞  In HK, its crampy n not roomy. Boarding house may be a cheaper option, owners might not like to live with maids due to certain reasons but generally most of them do allow. My buddy is running the agency at Tai Wai

HuiLin Heng ۞  Employers have to pay for the live out and transport costs. But the live out option is now illegal although still widely practiced.

Janelle Chuah ۞  Its definitely a good incentive for the maid who did not break any rules/ laws n complete their contract! Don't understand why is the govt charging so much in levy anyway...

Nelson Teo ۞  I agree with this suggestion as most domestic helper have to send their monthly salary home for their family at the end of the two year term they don't have much over for their own. If the government paid the levy it will be a booster for their working atitude, moral and loyalty. Be more stricter control on maid agency n training. This will attract better quality domestic helper.

Chrizz Teo ۞  As an agency owner, I have dealt with numerous cases and empathized with the employers and maids involved in early termination. My suggestion is for the levy to be reduced 20% every time the employer renew the contract with the same maid. This will provide leeway and incentives for the employer to retain the same maid through erk/monetary means. Everybody wins!~

Eugenia Ng ۞  Brilliant idea. If not all of it, at least a portion. Treat it as a bonus for contract fulfillment.

Uriel Archangel ۞  Crazy...the audacity of taking money out of govts pockets. ...thats treason...!!!

Lee Chong Leng ۞  Don't compare ! U come here to work then follow the house rules . U think u can tolerance with a pregnancy maid , making love with u husband , demand what they want , u called it human right , then u can have them or pack up go HK to seek for human right .

Ct Nurbaah ۞  People who keep comparing working conditions SG vs HK completely missed the point of this article. Today the levy is not going to maid by no choice of the employer. So what if living conditions is better in HK? Its irrelevant. Singaporean employers still have to pay levy.

Mona Lim ۞  Govt won't ever give up maid levy because it is so much money every month. Imagine how many foreign domestic worker n other foreign workers are there in singapore. You multiply that with the levy amount. And it is every month.

David Chen ۞  NO! You want our gahmen to return the money collected?! You must be joking! There's nothing wrong with collecting more money... remember?

Roy CJ Gwee ۞  Shouldnt this be directed to them who are collecting and keeping the present maid levy? Who are we to say anything and even sillier are we to be tempted to think that our views and opinions count for any consideration.

Lee Yong Yee ۞  I find it rather illogical if employers in HK or anywhere else were compelled to be accountable for their FDW pregnancy.

Glen Chew ۞  HK has better human rights for maids.. As told by a Fren who's from HK.. If a maid gets pregnant there.. It is compulsory for e employer to pay n look after the maid for e whole duration of e pregnancy.. If a maid gets pregnant here.. It's back to their hometown..
anyway it's a ridiculous rule..

Giovanni Mantegna ۞  if things keep up there wont be many maids in HongKong anymore

Roberta Ciccone ۞  I am curious to how the levy is used also. Why do Singaporeans that are truly in need to help care for aging parents or special needs family members and are low income have to pay? Foreigners and those over a certain tax bracket sure but the locals who actually need assistance, humm?

Peter Tan ۞  If a maid work performance is above average and the employer appreciates and treat her well enough there is not really a need to dangle carrots for her to leave but continue to work as long as she is willing.It has got to be a two way process having a good employer and a hardworking maid who does not give problems.On the other hand it will not work for an abusive employer and a good maid to tick nor a bad attitude under performing maid to please a good employer.If a maid is treated well like a member of the family by the employer of course she will feel welcome and appreciate provided she is one whose overall performance is average or above.Such cases do exists though not always so.Sometimes higher pay does not always work for maids just like any other job there has got to be job satisfaction,appreciation and recognition by the employer if she performed beyond expectations and employers do not have to wait till the contracts is ending to offer bonus maybe on festive occasions like Xmas New Year etc..they are given a bonus of sort to make them happy.Having a higher salary is one thing what is the use if the employer is over demanding,not appreciative or shows gratitude for a good maid chances of the maid staying will be slim even with the higher pay whereas if the pay is market rate but the employer is good boss the maid will not mind staying because she knows her good work is recognised and not overlooked. A maid is not a servant or slave it is just like any other job every other person is working for.Remember there is a but in everything.

Nancy Lee ۞  It's a good idea..at least the maids can look forward to the big bonus and will be more diligent in their work.

Alvin Chong ۞  Ask them better do not come ? Why ? It makes the kids work less n not goinq to do house work core duties in the future. Not so healthy in the long run. Let the kids learn to do the things themselves

Nafeesa Docura ۞  What's the levy actually for? I was under the impression the it was used to find (vague things in relation to foreign workers). If it just sits in the bank, maybe it can be pooled and given as bonuses. How would such a suggestion work if the government gives some families rebates on the levy? I understand that is extensive.

David Chow ۞  Ya, salaries in Singapore is so third world, even the maids are crossing to Hong Kong. Pfft to rub salt on wound, their dollar is 7:1 weaker then your dollar. 
Most I've spoken to when visiting HK, they cite, your pay sucks and working conditions stinks.

Below comment has been deleted.
Posting here to show how activist rate us and kept focusing at that miserable monthly salary.  

Who can survive without food and lodging?  All employee in Spore pay for their own living costs, except the good life/pampered maids.  This person posted in my blog without using brain?  It is obvious we can't change the mindset of such self-centered or fake saints.  

Do you really need to hire a maid ... knowing the odds are on your side?  Think about MOM's harsh terms and the evil/die-hard forces (fighters/activists) for FDWs.

If the reason why you wanted to hire a FDW (maid) is because you felt hiring a FDW is dirt cheap, only cost $450 to $500 per month, read this blog and every post (click) .... the answers are there, up to you to read!  It is usually those who were bullied by maids mentally and/or financially will know the real taste of employing FDWs.  I find it extremely hard to describe and get people to feel the same 难起共鸣.  Most people have a soft spot for maids and don't believe employers.  Just like you've not been a special needs parent, how much can you understand what I'm going through?

Don't be cheated or be naive to think employing a maid will definitely make your life easier.  The quality of FDWs have deteriorated yet salary and recruitment fee have increased by about twofold, compared to 2 years ago.  

1 Feb 2014
Based on the MOM’s latest levy for Service sector, unskilled: S$400. If MOM is really thinking of increasing the FDW levy and wants to encourage those who are holding work permits to employ FDWs, the ideal levy for this group of employers is S$500/mth. PRs pay $400/mth (normal rate) while qualified citizens remain as paying a concession rate of $120/mth.

The current (normal rate) levy to employ a foreign domestic worker is S$265/mth. If my suggestion is workable, in future, employers who want 2 maids in the same address should pay $800-1000 for their 2nd FDW....cos rich people felt employing maids is dirt cheap.  Expats felt it is something they are not 'entitled to' when in home country so became a must have for some to show off.

The NPTD paper estimated Singapore will need 300,000 maids by year 2030 (as at Dec 2013, there were 214,500 FDW work permit issued) so I don’t think MOM wants to 见财化水,不能从中牟利. Work permit-employers don’t need to worry that you’ll be weeded out. You will still be able to employ cheap maids, continue to show $power and be the most desirable employers in maids’ view. By offering a private room to the FDW, shorter working hours, give extra off days (not just weekly rest day) …. these are + + +!

Our PAP still have plenty of rooms for improvement. I hope PAP/MOM is not up to some dirty tricks, one hand gives and the other hand takes back $$ in double!

In Budget 2013, it was announced that those paying concession rate of $170/mth will receive $50 discount so means some employers are paying $120/mth. I hope this will be the discounted/final amount regardless levy is increased till whatever amount. Those who qualified for FDW grant, if I read the budget correctly, it means paying zero value. I hope it remains … zero, based on per capita income.

There should be a great difference between Citizens, PRs and Foreigners. The same theory for healthcare and education, foreigners are paying more. Citizens should ultimately be the ones enjoying the country's benefits and receive subsidized rate for holding pink ICs, not forgetting our male citizens went thru National Service for this land.

The cost to employ an inexperience/fresh filipino maid is $500 with 4 off days (noticed online ad, some agencies advertised fresh Phil maid $450 with 4 off days.  I guess they are aware fresh maids are not worth $500 with 4 off days or just a scam). Fresh Indonesian and Myanmar is about S$450, some has one off day each month, some gets 4 off. The rest - Cost to Hire a FDW will be the same as below table. In total, each month, to employ a maid, her salary and live-in costs is about S$1500... meaning, a maid's take home pay is much more than Spore low income citizens. 

No other job, except FDW, employer covers her daily living expenses.  All employee, whether you work in an office, shop, restaurant or stalls, you have to bear your own meals, transport, food, insurance, accommodation, etc.

Some rich employers/expats/activists deliberately DO NOT factor in FDW's live-in costs. I repeat, all employee receives a salary and need to pay his/her own transport, food, insurance, accommodation, etc EXCEPT FDWs. Therefore, it is most sensible that you sum up using below table. You are, not others, are providing FDW's agency fee, levy, salary, food, insurance, accommodation, in-house training, etc .... I don't believe all these are free but I believe you could be earning a lot to disregards her living costs, even a pet has a cost to live, so isn't it weird that there are people who continuously look at a maid's salary and ignored' her other costs. Sounds like 自欺欺人,何必做到那么出格,为别人做嫁衣, 尽力欺负和重伤我们 (Employers)? 埋没良心真的就能把你变成好人?

Read: Who earns lesser than FDW?

If the reason why you wanted to hire a FDW (maid) is because you felt hiring a FDW is dirt cheap, only cost $420 to $500 per month compared to childcare centre and you can make her at your beck & call?  Read this blog and every posts.... the answers are there!  Don't be cheated or be naive to think employing a maid will make your life easier.  If your maid is like mine, stubborn, owns a mobile/net savvy and have off days .... you won't dare to think managing maid is simple and easier than any local employee.
Read: Do you really need a maid?

22 Apr - This calculation is based on Philippines Embassy's intention to make Sg employers pay more, suffer more yet didn't get better maid service.  The Philippine government wants Singapore employers to bear its domestic workers' placement fees, which on average cost $2,000 or four months' salary. It wants to prevent filipino maids from paying this.  Fresh Filipino maid has nothing to lose.  Anything unhappy, employer kiss good-bye to all the money invested, nothing to tie FDWs down.  Filipinos fly to Spore completely no loan, no burden so not required to commit and do a good job!  Encouraged to run or behave badly at employers' expense.... legally protected leeches!  MOM should step in to eliminate middleman, unscrupulous agency and stop source country from being so hungry.

When you hired a bad Filipino maid, you lose S$2000 + another S$1000.
- Add SIP costs, insurance, agency fee and one way air ticket to repatriate her.

When you hired a lousy or princess Filipino maid, you lose S$2000 + another S$1000 to get her transferred out.
- Add accommodation at agency ($20/day), MOM levy, agency fee, insurance and salary of a maid who didn't physical stay & work for you.

S$3000 flew away, is this cheap?  Can you afford?  If the quality of maids didn't improve, it is very likely to see people trying to fish money from Employers' pocket.

Most households need a FDW for dual roles, not plainly as a babysitter, cleaner or elder caregiver.  It may be cheaper to hire a babysitter, put in childcare centre or engage part-time cleaner but if you've more than one child, work long or irregular hours, it is more practical to get a FDW.  For me, I don't have an option to put my girl into a special needs daycare centre, get relatives' help, in-law's help nor could get a good babysitter living nearby, willing to give my girl loving care.   Employing a FDW is my only option to earn a decent salary to cope with Sg high living standard.... if anyone bothers to read my blog.... should know.

Read: Who get lesser than FDWs and don't enjoy the privileges of foreign maids?

Using old system, employer must help to pay maid loan of 7 to 8 months once you agree to hire a fresh maid.  Maid will only receive her real salary after 7-8 months of FREE LABOUR. 
Money eaten by local and home country agencies.  If maid claimed she is unaware of above S$2000 maid loan (placement fee), employer will lead a tough life.  Maid will assume employer cheated her money.

Is it dirt cheap to hire a domestic maid (FDW) in Spore? S$1700 per month?  Is it fair to make us pay all the live-in expenses and costs imposed by MOM but quality of FDWs kept detoriorating?

* low FDW retention means FDW worked just a few months, very often less than one year and was transferred out.  I would believe most employers prefer to keep their FDWs so as not incurr losses and waste their time spent to train FDWs.  Not many Sg employers are rich stay-home women, can afford the costs and time (take annual leave). When a FDW is really lousy, unwilling to work then FDW has to be sent back to maid agency.  No such thing as employer gets free replacement.  Each replacement is not really free and you don't get a suitable maid sourced by the same agency (you can afford to wait 1 to 3 months?) so don't be cheated by such gimmick, look at the terms and conditions before you pay full.  Most agents just want to rush you to sign the papers and didn't let you read the contract properly, said you can read at home ... too late to regret if terms are unfavourable.

Fresh Filipino FDW's take home pay each month is S$500. Not required to pay anything or affected by Spore high cost of living.  This amount excludes what FDW spends during weekly off days.  Maids can find 'sponsors' to pay so that she can have $500 untouched.  Just need to learn from other experienced/polluted maids, they don't mind show newbies the ropes.

For NTUC Income FDW insurance policy MI2E, MI3E and MI4E plans issued with or without Waiver of Counter Indemnity on 01 Jan 2010 onwards, you will be entitled to the following refund amounts. This is provided that your Foreign Maid Insurance policy is taken up for a term of 26 months and is cancelled within 180 days.

When policy cancellation is done from the start date of Foreign Maid Insurance
Refund Amount
Within 60 days
70% of policy premium
Within 61 to 90 days
55% of policy premium
Within 91 to 180 days
40% of policy premium
From 181 days onwards
No Refund

Basic premium rates
26 months policy$   367.05^
14 months policy$   238.65^
The cost to hire a domestic maid may rise if your FDW happens to get a low starting pay, compared to FDWs from another country.  Yahoo has this article about different nationalities were offered different starting pay in Spore.   This is related to SMRT bus drivers' strike.  Source

The civil advocacy groups Maruah, Think Centre, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) and Workfair Singapore, called for an anti-discrimination culture and law to be cultivated and instituted respectively in Singapore.

“Migrant workers are treated as commodities. They have basic rights. How can you just kick them around as if they are nothing?”

“The objective and the intention behind not giving a 14-day notice must come into play”, noting that the act is one of public order and thus, the strike’s intent must be proven.  Based on Parliamentary speeches made by Lee Kuan Yew and David Marshall in 1955, the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA), which metes out an imprisonable sentence, is targeted at clamping down on “topengs” (agitators) and “hotheads” who may disregard negotiations intended to be held during the 14-day strike notice period.

Winter:  Filipino, Indonesian, Myanmese, Indian, Sri Lankan FDWs are being offered different starting pay (inexperience fresh maid).  So if these activists want to make life more difficult for FDWs’ employer, what can we do?  If activists insist all human should enjoy the same minimum starting pay, regardless nationalities and living standard, who will help to protect our interest and hard earned money?  

Wait long long!  MOM will be happy to continue take the back seat, support the foreigners and make our pockets burnt.  (click, see what MOM replied to me) MOM will not turn down any request made by source countries or activists.  Has MOM turned down any lately?  What have they done to help?  Which policy did MOM implemented recently that is proven effective and helpful to us?  Already 4 months since the weekly off day was legislated.  What regulation was passed out to reduce our liabilities and risks when maids are enjoying off days? 

Maid are now more proned to sexual diseases yet employer still made liable to pay for their half yearly medical check-up.  If FDWs are found pregnant or infected with diseases and the Dr report to MOM instead of letting employers know in advance, what can you do to minimise your losses and inconvenience caused?  Nothing, no law has been passed to safeguard our interests nor erase our fears. 

Just highlighting another case of being friendly and helpful to foreigners.  I didn't say the bus drivers shouldn't stand up to uphold their rights .... just jealous and frustrated activists are helping them, whereas, no organisation bothers to look at us. 

Looks like the country law means nothing to activists, if they felt not right, just hit people with 'Human Rights' and you are half dead!  Treat human like commodity, treat maids like slaves ... all sorts of accusation to make 'human rights' stand out.  This weapon call 'Human Rights' is so powerful but can FDWs' employer use it?  MOM didn't treat us like human, disregards our feelings, we're less important compared to FDWs..... we're just their money trees, ATM machines, am I right?  If you disagree, kindly direct me to some new policies that state FDWs' employer are also human, treated fairly and given equal human rights/protection from the hungry wolves.  Tell me something to brighten my life as a FDW's employer.  I believe I'm not the only employer who need some encouragement/news to show MOM/PAP didn't forsake us, value 'outsiders' more than citizens (trying very hard to make ends meet). 

When a worker demands, go on strike for better pay at the expenses of others, their employers get fined due to the disruption they caused.

Dec 2012 - I paid these for my Indonesia maid (Nov):

Indonesian FDW's Salary - minimum salary
Agency fee (agencies claimed their FDWs are trained - 400 hrs) Employer's house is the real training centre, not agency
FDW's 6.5 month loan (she's a transfer maid)
2-year medical & insurance + bond
FDW Levy (concession, normal is S$265/month)
3 meals, same as employer (based on 29 working days, using $3 per meal, excluding drink, snacks, visits to restaurant)
FDW half yearly medical check-up
Accommodation, Utilities, single bed, laundry and bathroom facilities.  A common room rental in Spore is $600 to $900/month
Settling (SIP) course (a training imposed by MOM but just a waste of employer's money).  Factored into agency fee.
Medical, sundries, transport, etc
Return air ticket cost minimum S$400, after completion of a 2-year contract
15 days paid Home Leave after completion of a 2-year contract
Employer's liabilities: runaway FDW and $5000 security bond
Repatriation cost of a bad maid - one way ticket home
cross my fingers, hope nothing happens that will fish money from my pocket

Pay FDW high salary does not equate to better performance. Employers who have learnt the hard way will know what I mean. They know that FDWs nowadays get much higher salary, better welfare and more people to pity them. Their quality had deteriorated, not worth the dollars and cents!

I believe it's better to pay an inexperienced FDW a reasonable monthly salary of S$400 per month.  The monthly levy that MOM made us paid can be considered as bonus.  If the FDW successfully completed 23 months of service with her employer, will be getting a 2-year contract renewal, the levy that her employer has paid to MOM should be cashed out and become her bonus.  Let's say $170 x 24 months = S$4080!!  This will really motivate a FDW to provide good domestic service, childcare or eldercare and stick to one employer.  It will also encourage FDWs to stay in Spore and not fly to Hong Kong or Taiwan.  Usual re-contract is 10% salary increment.

While hunting for a suitable transfer maid, I saw an Indian/Nepalese whom I was very keen to hire but hubby uninterested.  Her English seemed better than my Indo.  She can eat anything, looked tall and matured.  I regret not following my heart and ask her to visit my house for interview.

Hope MOM encourages Spore agencies to bring in FDWs from new source countries such as rural/poor China provinces, Cambodia or Vietnam to stop embassies from making unreasonable demands.   Home countries unwilling to provide high salary to their own people yet expect Spore employers to pay, ridiculous! 

Can MOM stop agencies from treating FDWs like commodities?  Stop making employers look like ATM machines, bear all the risks & costs and allowed agencies to make huge profit from each FDW that was marketed?

Allow DIY, provide a legal online website in each source country for employers to bring in FDWs without going through any agent?  Can MOM allow FDW be housed in a boarding house and remove all liabilities lumped on my shoulder?  I don't want to know what she does after working hours or on off days.  Don't make me fully responsible for her bad behaviour and well-being, especially when she's not physically working in my house.

I don't know how long I can tolerate life living with FDW.  Will I be able to endure till M finishes her loan?  Will I live to see 明天会更好?

Felt nowadays, hiring a FDW is like killing myself slowly.  If you have no sickness, you may end up with.  I stopped my long-term medication but worry new FDW may trigger my illness.  I feel like I'm a volcano going to erupt.

Many years ago, before I became a FDW's employer, there are many University grads who accepted the position of Foreign Domestic Worker.  Now, a lot are just Primary or Secondary level.  Due to little education, they couldn't understand simple English, incapable of doing a proper job as per instructions/training.  These FDWs merely came due to the high FDW demand.  They flew here thinking FDW are easy jobs, paid high salary and the debts (maid loan) is every employer's responsibility.  Maids thought they can get employers to share their wealth example indulge her with expensive mobile phone, fine dining, etc. 

When you hired a maid, the cost above will be even more if the person hired is having such mentality.  The reason: you didn't meet her expectations, maid thought you've short-changed her entitlement so she wanted a transfer or runaway. 

Comparison - A maid’s salary:

Dh1400 to Dh2000 (S$500), with experience
Dh1100 – Filipino with no experience
Expat offers DH2500 to 3000

Hong Kong
HK$3920 (S$617), with experience
Employers prefer those who've worked 2 years in Spore
Given weekly off days and Public Holiday off

NT$15840 (S$665) , with experience

Employers prefer those who've worked 2 years in Spore

Levy NT$5000 (S$200)
Working on off days will be paid NT$528/off-day

US$210 (S$257) - Filipino with no experience

RM$700 (S$350), no experience – one task recommended for this salary (Employers felt not workable)

S$450 to $500, no experience, depends on nationality of FDW
Mandatory weekly off days.  Pay compensation for no-off based on 26 working days/month 
Expat offers at least S$600 with juicy terms

By the way, to expatriates or other high income earners, spending S$1500/per on FDW is no big deal, simply too cheap to hire a live-in domestic maid.  Expat tend to focus on the basic salary (S$400 to $500) and start screaming ‘so low, OMG!’, having a maid is a must-have thing in Spore because it is too affordable to them!  A lot of expatriates auto increase the salary of their FDWs by paying extra S$100 to 200 above market rate. 

This kind of cash rich people should really have a taste of what it means by being too nice, spend generously on their FDWs and end up being played out!  You may think I’m mean but this is the best way to stop people from accusing us as bad employers, treating FDWs like slaves, didn’t try to give FDWs a better life in Spore and allow more freedom.

Maid is not a family member
FDWs add stress to Employers
Do your sums
Why set up a blog?

How do we, the employers show that we really paid a lot for FDWs but not fairly protected by law?  How do we get MOM and activists to recognise the fact that foreign domestic workers (FDW) are a necessity in some households?  How do we feedback to MOM we are victimised by maid agencies, maids and embassies? Also, MOM may tweak its policy if more voices are received from employers.   Employers in Spore, I suggest you
email MOM to : mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg or write in to
Ministry of Manpower, 18 Havelock Road, Singapore 059764 with your real name and ID. 
It will be better if you've proof/evidence to submit.