21 Jun 2016

Do you really need to employ a maid?

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Special Needs.2
Maid agency
so many Bruises on my girl

Are there cheaper alternatives to hiring a domestic helper? AsiaOne, 21 Jun 2016
Domestic helpers have almost become a ubiquitous part of our lives.  Many Singaporeans hire a helper to take care of their chores, children and aged or disabled person in the household.

Indonesia announced that they intend to stop sending new live-in maids starting as early as next year.  Singaporeans dependent on maids or looking to get one will worry about how this would affect them.  With 125,000 Indonesian helpers, we can expect that the impact to be significant.

A domestic helper shortage will give maid agencies a reason to increase their agency fee for maids from other countries like Philippines, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

The monthly salary of a domestic helper can start at around $500 for a helper from The Philippines.  An Indonesian maid, however, will cost more because the Indonesian Embassy mandated that their maids must be paid a minimum $550 a month.  The government uses the levy to regulate the number of foreign workers here.

When we seek to hire a domestic helper, the levy would be an area of concern.  Its mechanism is like a CPF contribution, but instead of it going to the maid, it is a tax collected by the government.  Hence, it is wise to find ways to make use of the concessionary levy instead of paying the full amount.

You qualify for a concessionary levy ($60 per month) when you are under these schemes:
- Young child or grandchild scheme (the child must be a Singapore citizen under 16 years old, and is living at the same address as you)
- Aged person scheme
- Persons with disabilities scheme

Payment of the levy seems affordable on its own.  However, without the concessionary levy, the $265 paid on top of a salary of at least (and likely much more in future) $550 will take a chunk out of your pay.  In Singapore, the average salary is $3949 (including CPF) as at 2015.  After deducting 20% for CPF contribution, the median pay would be around $3160.

You pay more than just wages and levies.  Hiring a maid will therefore be at least $610 (assuming you are hiring an Indonesian maid on the concessionary levy basis).  There are more costs than the compulsory insurance and maid agency fee.  Your helper's living expenses must be budgeted too.  Examples include food, utility bills, transportation (including her airfare when she visits home), to name a few.  If you include your helper's living expenses, it can easily exceed $1000. That is more than 30% of your salary.

If you have other financial obligations like paying for enrichment lessons or servicing car loans, spending more than $1000 in total for a maid may be unsustainable.

It is uncertain how much the average minimum wage of a maid here would increase in 2017.  If you think the cost to you would be unsustainable, you might want to consider the following alternatives.

Childcare centre
Enrolling a child to a childcare centre is expensive. It can range from $300 to over $1000.
It is typical of private operators to command fees of more than $1000, as parents have to pay a premium for a low child-to-teacher ratio.  This means their child will probably get more attention from their teacher.

A childcare centre may be one of the cheapest options, but some parents do not get a peace of mind, as they may question the cleanliness of the centre and the quality of the service there.

You can find a nanny to look after your children after school, or hire someone to take them out (the latter is more popular with expatriates).

The rates depend on many factors.  Some examples are qualification level (e.g. university graduate), specialized qualification (e.g. early childhood), work experience, languages spoken and written, and other tasks required (whether the nanny needs to help with laundry and other chores).

A babysitter's rate can start from $1200 per month for part time to $1800 per month for fulltime.

Grandparents will certainly be the best option for working parents.  They give you the ultimate peace of mind, because after all, they raised you.  Grandparents will probably be the most economical option because they don't require a monthly fee.

Perhaps the only costs you can compensate is your monthly allowance to them, and some extra cash for your child's expenses.

A career sacrifice
Letting your career take a backseat may be the next best alternative if the aforementioned options are not viable.  It will be a more prominent option if your company does not have a family-friendly work policy, such as flexible work hours.

If other family members are unable to help, perhaps the only choice is to look after your child full time.  Many excuses may arise such as "we need the dual income to support the family," "how are we going to afford our annual vacation?"

The wonders of looking after your own child can be priceless.  From the quality time spent, to the proper supervision and home cooked meals, your child will enjoy your company.  That said, making a career sacrifice is a personal choice that takes a lot of financial planning with your spouse before making the big decision.

Childcare centres are costly, and hiring nannies are even more expensive.  While new Indonesian maids may live in dormitories instead of our homes, it may be worth a try.  Nonetheless, nothing can replace the love and comfort a family member can provide for your child.  That is something no amount of money can buy.

Winter: I have commented long ago in my other posts that live-out option is good for me as long as FDWs are treated like adults ... be responsible for themselves, pay their own accommodation, living costs, insurance, security bond/penalty on FDW who violated work permit (pregnancy, HIV), medical, etc.  In future, employers just need to pay a monthly salary, the rest not our problem. To be fair, with FDWs' qualifications and skills, their salary should be similar to our low income citizens 

I am just so sick of seeing people so fond of pointing fingers on employers (make themselves look like saints), trying all ways to make FDWs looked overworked and underpaid.  Privacy can be compromised knowing my helper can be easily reached in my premises and need not waste time on transportation.  If live-out option is possible, FDW will have to wake up earlier in order to reach my house at around 6am (prepare child and take mrt to special school) and I can't let her go off early because I haven't knock off.  I think most employers can only get home around 7pm, depending on how far are their work locations. It will be tiring for FDW but if this is what she wants ... more freedom and privacy then FDW has to bear all the extra costs and inconveniences.  Would you tell your boss my maid wants to leave early (more rest time) so you must shorten my working hours and don't make me do overtime?

Having a FDW means employer has a full-time helper at home and FDW gets to earn foreign notes that is much higher than own country.... win-win arrangement.  If FDWs, source countries and activists kept thinking Employers owe FDWs a lot, employers are not paying well enough, FDWs are "overworked/working non-stop", had too little private time, not treated like queens and princesses, etc then it is time PAP kicks all the FDWs out ... so unappreciative and demanding or thought we'll all die because we lost one breadwinner (husband and wife can't work full-time, somebody need to stay home)?  Spore is a little red dot meant to be bullied by big countries?  MOM/PAP has to keep feeding and please the source countries at our expense?  Haze time and other disasters, Spore offered free money.  A tiny country but rich so big country such as Indonesia can't resist taking a bite?

Employers have forked out lots of invisible costs (living costs) because some people are not using their brains to think, even though a lot are more highly educated then me! Can you believe maid live on air and can go without food, no proper accommodation, etc?  Who pays these?  As a normal employee, aren't you suppose to foot all these? Employer paid everything doesn't mean the daily living cost shouldn't be calculated into the costs to employ a live-in FDW.

You stood high and can't feel the ground?  You've purposely forgotten we are merely FDWs' employer, do not own any company so what made you think we are all rich or have money nowhere to spend?  Why can't you open your eyes to see modern FDWs are a necessity not a luxury?  Most employers own a tiny HDB flat that consists of about 4 persons.  How hard or tedious can it be if there's no baby that requires FDW to night feed and day chores to juggle or a stay home naggy adult supervising you everyday?  

Expats employ maids to show off but this 'bad habit' doesn't apply to citizens.  A lot of expats just want to show off their status, having FDW is not a necessity so didn't generate enough work for her to kill time.  Expats don't mind having FDW as a show piece ... which cost peanuts to them based on their pay.  In their country, there's no way they can employ a domestic helper, even though they are earning much more than most Sporeans (different pay scale). Their mentality is like, visit Spore, one of the attractions/must do thing is to visit Sentosa, eat chicken rice, etc.  Same theory in the eyes of foreigners working in Spore.  They don't care we are not earning more than them nor can western expats remember that they can stretch their hands for free money, whereas Sporeans have no free money.  Any financial and welfare support has to go thru means testing. Jealousy and a twisted personality 心理变态 caused some western educated expats/activists to keep biting on employers.  喝多洋墨水的人比较腹黑? The most common accusations: maids are treated like slaves and underpaid (live in costs were intentionally not calculated) in Spore.  Actual cost to employ a live-in maid is around S$1500 per month, not face value of "only $500-600 per month" unless you are telling me FDWs need not eat, can live with air, no need insurance or a proper place to sleep, etc. 

MOM should consider live-out option at FDW's cost or co-share with maid agency.  There must be strict security system to show what time FDW leaves her dormitory and what time she returns to ensure she has sufficient rest after leaving employer's house.  If she sways elsewhere for additional income or having night life that drained her energy, which means she can't do a good day job then she will be terminated and sent back to her respective agency.  No more repatriation at Employer's cost.  No more work permit in Employer's name. Put more weight and responsibility on maid agencies.  Please don't pamper source countries and agencies, thus, allowing Sporeans to be bullied.

Sep 2014
Winter:  Nanny doesn't want to take up the challenge of caring my special needs child.  If having a loving-kindness nanny who lives nearby, I don't mind employing and fire my FDW.  If my girl was taken care by a nanny since birth, the relationship and closeness may keep them together, till today.  My girl was cared by me till the age of about 7 years old.  It is hard to get a stranger-nanny to accept a big girl like her and take care of her like a toddler.  Nanny doesn't know her from birth.  The first interaction with my 'naughty' girl could frighten any nanny.  

A nanny can earn between $700 and $800 a month ... I believe this is non-overnight rate.  If such a loving-kindness nanny lives near me, willing to take my girl to school daily and of course, provide her with care, safe environment and healthy food, I feel this rate is much better than putting my girl in AWWA half day care or any to-be-built special needs care centre.  I have mentioned in another post, AWWA SMILES, the only half day special needs childcare is located far from my place, doesn't want to take in my girl.  The price quoted during June or December school holiday (full day in school) .... if I remembered correctly was from $650 per month, no subsidy.  This fee doesn't include the private taxi that AWWA helps to arrange at a cost of $600 per month.

I have sticked recruitment slips near my neighbourhood, placed online ads for nanny, asked some next door aunties to recommend nanny but nobody interested.  It is not an easy and rewarding job.  Therefore, I need a maid, I don't have a choice.  My options are to work and have spare money or stay home with my girl, holding onto dried finance.

Nanny trumps maid for some families, Mypaper, 23 Sep 2014
With the number of maids entering Singapore increasing year by year, the message is clear: Families here need help with maintaining their households and taking care of their kids or elderly parents.

Yet, there remains a sizeable number of families with children here who would rather hire a nanny as opposed to a maid.  They say they feel more assured knowing that their child is being taken care of by a nanny who is not only more culturally attuned, but also has the necessary experience.

Mother of two Omar Bivee has employed a nanny to take care of her daughters since they were born.  The 54-year-old nanny now takes care of the two-year-old toddler at her own home till Ms Bivee picks her daughter up in the evenings.  "I wouldn't have peace of mind leaving my daughters with a maid. I'd keep thinking about whether the maid is taking good care of my child," said the 33-year-old. Her older daughter, now four, is in childcare.

The civil servant trusts the nanny, who has 11 years of experience, and has become more than just an employee.  The children address the nanny as "grandma" and she is now considered a family friend.

Adrian Ng, co-owner of nanny agency BBNanny, said demand for his agency's nanny services has almost doubled since it started business in 2006, although he could not give placement figures.  This demand is despite it being more expensive to hire a full-time nanny as compared with a foreign domestic worker.

On average, a nanny can earn between $700 and $800 a month, working close to 12 hours a day, five days a week.  In contrast, a maid earns between $450 and $500 on average and works six days a week. Many also work 12-hour days, if not more.  Mr Ng said more Singaporeans are plumping for nannies after listening to horror stories of misbehaving maids.  "There is less worry for them, and they also have more privacy without a maid living with them," he said.

The nannies he manages are either Singaporeans or Malaysians holding permanent resident (PR) status here - they are mostly housewives who have time to spare and experience with kids, being mothers themselves.

This is another draw as it makes it easier for all parties to adapt.  "Maids come from a different culture and they may not understand certain practices here... this could lead to miscommunication between the maid and her employer," Mr Ng said.

For Evon Tan, owner of Babysitters.Sg, demand has remained stable over the years.  "There will always be a demand for nannies...a lot of people are worried about leaving their children with someone whose maturity they are unsure of," she said.

Parents can meet the nannies and get to know them, an advantage which employers of maids do not have.  "Many of the nannies, who have been with the families for several years, are even considered part of the family," said Ms Tan.

Lee Mee Lan is a nanny who has been taking care of babies and children for the past seven years.  Not affiliated with a nanny agency, she decided to try the job out when her children were in their teens and she had spare time.  "I love kids, so I thought this was the perfect job as I get to take care of them while earning some cash," said the 45-year-old.

"I will continue to be a nanny until I have my own grandchildren to take care of."

Facebook comments:
Serena Chua  - Maid are not superman. Can't expect to "maximise money" by expecting them to look after bb and do housework. Even sahm has problem doing that. Very Good if can find maid who can care for baby. This is so hard these days. Our expectations should be realistic. Safety is still priority when deciding between maid or nanny.

甄慧雯 - There's no cheap & good. U want cheap maid then don't complain. Nanny don't do housework for u, plus most of them are locals. So of course more expensive. 
I hv experienced on my 3 kids cared by childcare, maid & nanny. Best is nanny. But the most expensive. 2nd is childcare, but job must be pro family so that can fetch on time. Maid is last. Can do everything but owner must close 2 eyes.

Nicholas Lee  - Nannies r safer than maids after all. You never know what r they feeding your kids

Jeremy Yeo Boon Meng - Most maids are not so reliable and as capable as nanny .

Huey Huey Ye - I remembered in those days when we don't have maid agencies, our so-called maids are known as nannies. In the morning the parents dropped their kids at the nannies' house and then picked them up after work. Sometimes if the parents are too busy they will just leave the kids overnight. No worries of any sort.

Kenney Quek - One example: do you think Singaporeans can signed on with the army and lived like a 'do what you like' civilian in the camp?
They came over to our country to work as domestic helpers. BUT, most of them are not 'mentally' prepared to be domestic helpers. Whose fault is this?! It's definitely not the fault of employers.

Nasaruddin Sulaiman - Most maids is useless but if lucky 1 or 2 they are good in cooking and doing household.

Triwi Ali Khan - Better goes for nanny if u people just need to find someone to look after the baby..

Peter Tan - Maids basic workload is doing household chores from cleaning,washing,ironing,cooking sending n fetching children to and from kindergarden or schools which they are expected to do but to interact or even forming a closer bond with the kids are often not a must part of their schedules.There may be some communication problem since many of the maids came from non speaking english o local dialects languages.Hiring a local nanny makes a better choice since they are more accustomed to local living and culture further more if they speaks the same dialect or language as the family who hired them it can make a world of difference.There have been horror tales of abuse of maids against those they were supposed to take care of but that does not mean every maid belong to the bad and ugly there are always the good too.Sometimes paying a bit more for security and better quality helpers can leaves ones mind at peace so give support for those nannies who may have grown up children of their own and wish to earn some $$$ or keep themselves occupied or love looking after kids .

Don't you think MOM/PAP should show it cares for its needy citizens, meaning those employed FDWs for special needs persons, to be given better chance to employ good and timely-arrived FDWs?  If MOM/PAP is trying to build an inclusive society, didn't purposely make needy families fall thru the cracks, MOM can screen thru all the work permit applications and approve those who need a FDW ... a household that fits the name of 'helper'.  Hold on to those applications applied by high income earners (earning combined income above S$8000/month - they are rich enough to employ as many hourly paid domestic helpers), expatriates/work permit holders, intend to employ 2 maids or Spore Permanent Residents.

There are more and more people employing FDWs thinking they are dirt cheap (didn't add in hidden costs, blinded to see only the salary portion) and is a 'deal that cannot be missed' .... the expatriate kind of mindset.... such people are creating an imbalance and causing FDW market to be flooded by poor quality maids, in order to meet the demand!  Such employers, MOM should take a long time to screen and approve their work permit application.  This category of people ought to pay more fees and be ranked the lowest in the approval list. This people can show off their money elsewhere, don't create miseries to others who cannot afford to sit at home and shake legs.  It is unfair to Citizens who need maids to help so that they can work but were snatched by those who don't need to rely on the help of FDW .... they have plenty of choices or they don't even need a live-in FDW yet rushing to get a 'cheap FDW' (in their eyes)!  MOM, please pass the right message, FDWs to be given priority - hired by needy and household income that is less than S$8000 per month.... not meant for the RICH tai tais, PRs and self-centred expatriates!

One activist commented "Since Singaporeans are able to enjoy the benefits of poverty in nearby countries, which translate into extremely cheap labor beyond the protection of the Employment Act, MOM should continue to do its best in ensuring that those poor workers are treated with minimum standards of decency." ....huh, what!  These people thought Sporeans are very rich!  How many of you are enjoy the benefits of poverty in nearby countries?
Answer: Expatriates (culprits for all the human rights nonsense) working in Spore who adamantly felt maids are underpaid.  To them, employing FDWs is a luxury which they will never get a chance to enjoy back home.  Who is taking advantage of Spore FDW loopholes?  Activists, source country, the rich and work permit holders/expat.  One live-in maid cost about S$1500 - it is not cheap!  Foreigners are paid very well, better than citizens, which lead them to think that kind of salary (eg S$5000 per month) is normal and usual.  It didn't sink into their heads, S$5000 per month could be a combined income (husband and wife).

IF I AM RICH, I don't need to work.  If I have lots of money for me and my special needs girl to live till the day we leave this cruel world, no need to rely on anybody for sympathy, do I need to work?? If I am a fortunate and blessed person, do I need to employ maid to add salt and pepper to my 'good life'? Do you need to work if you're rich?  You can shake legs at home and don't have to worry about finances.  If I don't need to work, can stay house, why should I 'donate hard earned money' to FDWs, MOM and maid agencies?  Crazy activist theory!  Those activists/expats with mentality "Maids are meant for the Rich" is really screw loose. I really don't know what kind of brains and hearts they have ... malfunctioned/perforated!

I need an income but there's nobody, no special needs daycare centre for my girl so besides employing a poor quality and stuck-up maid, what else can I do to stay employable and earn an income in Spore?  Do you know the meaning of trying to sustain life in Spore with a low or middle income - combined income of couple is from $1000 to $7000?  Is this a lot compared to what expats and foreign talents are earning?

FDWs received take home pay which are more than our low income citizens and highly protected by MOM but foreigners/activists chose not to believe such a fact and kept biting on mid-income local employers who are trying hard to stay employable - need a dual income!  Activists said no money don't employ domestic helpers.  To them, they want the same system as per their country - maids are meant to be employed by the rich, not meant for the needy ... poor employer, example me.  They seemed to be keen to make us lose our jobs, stay home look after our children, live in poverty, no spare cash or money for 'rainy season'.  Foreigners/activists are usually imported talents (never suffered, haven't tasted pocket not enough cash) earning more than enough to use their money to smash us 用钱砸我们.  These people enjoy sowing discord, unappreciative, are extremely selfish and horrible.  They simply cannot adapt to our culture, learn more about our lifestyle and salary scale.  Whatever make them look good and able to step on us, they will push for it and happy to join the fun!  Some foreigners are really a sore because they don't value us or respect this tiny country that PAID THEM SO WELL.  They don't appreciate good job offers given to them, at the expense of locals.  Going around the system to meet demand

Cheaper to help families hire home care, helpers, Straits Times, 5 Aug 2014
I was surprised at the report “MOH may run its own nursing homes” (Aug 1). In view of our ageing population, are we promoting the easy way out; that is, putting our sick and aged in these nursing homes?

We should be encouraging families to care for the sick and aged via more subsidies for employing domestic helpers and for home care by doctors and nurses, as well as more tax reliefs.

The ministry should train more home-care specialists and have more day rehabilitation centres instead. There would surely be more savings in all these than in building more nursing homes with the subsequent operating costs.

Based on my experience with my late father, putting him in a nursing home three years ago was more expensive than engaging a helper. Giving our loved ones home care is also something they need during their final journey and what I call filial piety.

Facebook comments:
Jolovan Wham ·  Executive Director at HOME Singapore:  Hiring migrant domestic workers is actually the easier way out as it allows employers to exploit women who are expected to work round the clock caring for the elderly and infirm with few days off and in some instances, no days off at all. Unless the government includes them under the Employment Act, I don't think it is right for us to depend on domestic workers as we are not giving them a fair deal.

Don Gurugay:   In an ideal situation parents should not be brought to any nursing home to see out their last days. However, the reality is that, there is a limit a small family or the average domestic worker can do. So although it is the "cheaper" alternative, it isn't practical.

David Soh:  Last paragraph amendments, we did not put him in nursing home but instead give him 100% good home care by engaging a helper. together with family care. Back than levy was @ $160, cost of engaging home nurses @ $50, cost to see Specialists by taking Special wheel chair cab @ $100, exclude specialists consultation which normally lasted 3-5 mins.. What MOH should now do is to work with MOM and other agencies, to lower or remove levies, make home care services affordable and remove 'means testing' afterall you have the salaried medical staff readily available. To even consider using Medisave. As we aged or need pallative care, good home care is the best.
21st August marks his 3rd Anniversary, hope the sharing in his Blog will help those currently taking care of sick and aged.
Read blog
"We are always troubled by the question as to whether our sick elderly loved ones should be placed in the HOME or stay with us.  One we say in the HOME they have many facilities and medical staff readily available to take care of our loved ones.  My main question to ask - is the CARE and ATTENTION given the same as one given by own CHILDREN?  This is something many of us tend to ignore out of convenience.  If one is unaware, the cost of employing a helper is much lower than staying in a HOME.  We are very lucky to employ HEIDEE as she was transferred.  Her previous employer father has passed away and that is how we managed to employ her.  She looked after my father very well till he passed away.  As a caregiver we are faced with many challenges and one of them is to get equipment and medical accessories for our loved ones.  Out there currently there are far too many companies and it is very, very difficult to find one which can be consumer oriented rather than totally profit oriented."

AWWA Centre For Caregivers:  Mr Soh, agree that loving care at home is always preferred if the family can manage. There are some families who may not be able to care at home, for example, single child or elderly spouse who are themselves frail.

Ho Kong Loon:  A maid cares for my bedridden 93-year-old mother. The levy was waived, which is contingent on meeting the required means test.  My siblings and I are also thankful for the substantial government subsidy for her medication, as well as her diapers and dressings for her bedsores. The occasional consultations with home care doctors are subsidised likewise.

It has been a relief to my siblings and me, who are retirees, that Mum can be cared for at home under such schemes. She is pleased because her wish has always been to spend her final years at home.  We visit her regularly, help care for her as best as we can, talk to her and do whatever is necessary to make her non-ambulant life warmer and more meaningful.

I endorse Mr Soh’s request to rethink having nursing homes run by the Health Ministry. The public hospitals and home care programmes are excellent, so it would be appreciated if the ministry can expand the reach and comprehensiveness of home care, especially for geriatric patients.

More families hiring two or more maids, 22 June 2014, The Straits Times
Additional help needed for task of caring for the elderly and children, on top of housework.
Housewife Liew Bee Choo had been grappling with the decision to hire a second maid for the past two years.

Her hesitancy was due to the cost and a fear that the new maid might not get along with her current one.  But now that she is in her late 60s, Mrs Liew finds it hard to cope with the housework in her two-storey bungalow near Upper Thomson Road.

Her husband, Mr Liew Keng Pang, an 84-year-old retired businessman who has rheumatism, also needs help moving around.  Last month, Mrs Liew hired a second Indonesian maid who will arrive in Singapore this week.

More Singaporeans are finding that they need two or more maids to deal with the task of caring for elderly family members and young children, on top of household chores.  The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) told The Sunday Times that the proportion of employers with two or more maids has stayed at 4 per cent for the past three years.

There are no official figures for the total number of maid employers in Singapore.  However, industry players estimate that the pool of employers with two or more domestic helpers has swelled from about 7,600 in 2012 to about 8,000 last year. The total number of maid employers is likely to have grown from 190,000 to 200,000 in the last two years.  MOM figures show a spike in the number of maids from 209,600 in 2012 to 214,500 as of December last year.

The MOM said it considers applications for a second maid if employers have someone over 60 living with them or if they have two or more children under 18.

It costs about $900 a month to employ a maid, including her $500 salary, monthly levy and living expenses. But bosses say they would prefer to pay for an extra helper rather than stress out their existing one and risk her throwing in the towel.  Said Mrs Liew, in Mandarin: "I help my maid now with housework. But in a few years' time, I may not be able to do so and I think she won't be able to cope. My husband will also need more help to move around."

Maid agencies said the burn-out rate among maids who care for the elderly is high and having an extra pair of hands will help them cope better.  Orange Employment Agency owner Shirley Ng said: "Some maids quit just after a few days because taking care of the elderly is a 24/7 job."  Best Home Employment Agency boss Tay Khoon Beng said employers with two maids are also more willing to give their workers days off.

Businesswoman Katherine Han, 71, who hires one maid to care for her bedridden husband and another to do housework, agreed it is especially important to give maids who care for the elderly a day off.  "They are working almost all the time," she said. "They need to rest and recharge."

However, problems can arise when hiring two or more helpers.  Mr Karl Tan, owner of maid agency Inter-Mares Management Services, said: "The more dominant maid may want to assign the responsibilities and do less work. This will lead to unhappiness."  Employers said they are mindful of possible tensions between their helpers.  "I will be fair when assigning work," said Mrs Liew. "I will also be around to supervise so nothing will escape my eyes."

7 May 2013 - Before I hired a maid, I thought FDW is just a person whom I’m paying monthly salary and then she will deliver duties as per my instructions.  At that time, to employ a maid cost about S$300.  It has not crossed my mind that I’ve to know FDW’s live-in costs, insurance, levy, be binded by MOM’s unfriendly policies, pay agency fee, etc.

At that time, I thought maids are just people who are here to work and send money back to their families.  They are hardworking, submissive and pitiful people.  They are people from poor places, don’t know city life, don’t have mobile phone (no money), not scheming (not that intelligent), will complete 2-year contracts and stay on, not demanding (easily contented people), etc.  After hiring maids, they really made my mind and eyes opened with shock!

The reason it took me five years to ponder then took a daring step out and work is my worry to hire a bad maid who might ill-treat my girl during my absence.  We needed money, need to think of our girl when we’re dead and PAP govt is not giving us good assistance.  Hubby and I were incapable of hiring a maid and entrust our darling to her.  We know to love and accept a child with special needs is really not easy.  Maid has no obligation to treat my girl like her own child or work with a kind heart.  It can be frustrating to look after a child who cannot understand simple language or gestures, not just one month, it is likely to be as long as my girl lives.  Look at my own mother, my in-laws and relatives’ reluctance to help us, it made us totally no courage to have a maid … a total stranger, unrelated to you, how to get her to be our good helper?  This job needs a person who has good heart and trustworthy.  Costs to have maid and problems that she may create were really not in our mind.  I must confess at that time, I was really naive, didn’t know employers are no big shot, thought can simply issue instructions and receive obedience from maid.  Our top concern was how to find a suitable person, totally unrelated to us to help us sincerely.  I spent five years to think!  Money, our greatest enemy didn’t allow me to stay home so I was forced out to work and hired a maid with uneasiness.

I believe, there are people who thought the same as me ... maids are harmless, employers are too demanding and hard to please.  It is only when the bomb drops near or on you then you’ll know how it feels to be scalded or hurt. 

Do you really need a FDW like me, no other options?  I need a fixed salary, do you? 

Do you know there are many childcare or eldercare centres?

Do you know there are cleaning companies and cleaners who work part-time?  They are usually hired on a 4-hour assignment, each visit.

Baby bonus, childcare subsidies and Govt grants are not enough, without love for your children,govt's reward can't make you take up such life long commitment. Parenting is not something you can choose to quit half way or sublet.  Do not bring babies to this world if you just want the govt's rewards and intend to delegate your duty to others .... means time after working hours, you can't or unwilling to spare time for your children.
Maids have no rights nor suppose to take over your love and duty. Do not empower your maid with such a role or authority.

Do you like your child to think maid is more important than you? They can live without you but not FDW?

Do you think your children will want you once they have bonded with your FDW?

Do you want your kids to be in the best and safest hands if given a choice?  May not be the wisest financial move but you can have hands-on parenting and give your children the safest haven.
Plenty of Money cannot buy love and bonding with the kids.   Watching kids grow up is something once missed, it is gone! 

Do you need a salary to cope with Spore high living standard?  It is not a sin for women to work to provide better future for themselves and their children.
It's not easy to face the reality of being stay-home mum without income. 黄脸婆!! 
Some view SAHMs as a luxury ... only those who are affordable can take up this option without hesitation.
Some people went to the extent to condemn women for not fulfilling their duty, they felt they are Right to make such outdated and hurtful remarks, not taking into consideration modern women needed a salary, not all are born rich or have a millionaire/high income husband to let them enjoy tai-tai lifestyle 不必担心柴米油盐,应付基本生活所需.

19 Apr - Do you want to pay high filipino placement fee? 
Are you afraid your S$2000 will fly away if FDW failed to work 2 years with you
Can you afford to donate $2000?  No free replacement because each time a fresh maid is recruited, kiss good bye to S$2000.  If you don't mind, that shows you are quite affordable.  Not a mattter of being generous, you just felt these are tiny expenditure, insignificant to your wallet.... but means a lot to me!

Do you know nowadays the FDWs are of extremely poor quality, choosey, no experience yet demanding so it is very likely that your investment will not be rewarded nor kindness appreciated?
Speak to your friends, colleagues and relatives, those who hired FDWs from 2012 or end 2011, how many of them are happy and have not thought of changing maid?  How many are singing praises of their maids?  How many commented their FDWs are very hardworking, sensible, responsible, not glued to mobile phones, takes good care of kid, can cook reasonably well, listens to instruction, the house became cleaner than before, etc?

Do you have plenty of  patience, time and money for a live-in stranger?

Have you looked at other options and compared, is employing FDW your best or only option?

Do you really need to employ a maid? Is it a neccessity?

10 maid agencies face temporary ban by Philippine Embassy  
Apr 13, 2013, The Straits Times
Philippines embassy stepped up enforcement of the rules last year, although they were introduced more than a decade ago. The Philippine Embassy will blacklist up to 10 Singapore maid agencies by the end of the month and has warned that more could follow if they continue flouting recruitment rules set by Manila.

The embassy stepped up enforcement of the rules last year, although they were introduced more than a decade ago. Agencies blacklisted face a temporary ban on bringing in domestic workers from the country, though the embassy would not say how long such bans would last.

So far only two have been blacklisted. Both large agencies were reinstated in less than a week last June after they agreed to pay for the maids' plane tickets home so they could file compensation claims in Manila.

The Philippine government wants employers to bear domestic workers' placement fees, which on average cost $2,000, or four months' salary. It wants to prevent maids from having to pay for this. Currently, employers pay agencies $400 to $600 to hire a Filipino maid, but the requirements will see this rising to between $2,400 and $2,600.

The 10 agencies under investigation have allegedly been charging maids fees above the market average. Philippine labour attache Vicente Cabe said he has evidence to prove they have charged Filipino domestic helpers between $3,000 and $4,000 or six to eight months in salary for placement fees.

Mr Cabe said he did random checks on maids and asked them to show receipts of the placement fees they paid. He declined to reveal the names of the agencies under investigation but warned that more will be blacklisted in the next few months.

He insisted: "I will blacklist agencies, even those who charge one or two months in placement fees, as long as I have evidence to show that they are doing it.

"If you cannot follow our rules, then don't do business with us."

However agents, who asked not to be named for fear of a backlash by the embassy, said passing on all costs to employers is not feasible and that Manila's tough stance will force them to go "underground".

They said they will bring in women as tourists instead of going through the legitimate route of declaring to the Philippine government that they are overseas workers. The women would be working legally in Singapore as the agents will help them to apply for work permits after they arrive.

But it would mean the women would not be entitled to the employment terms set by Manila such as being charged no placement fees, having four days off a month and a monthly salary of at least US$400 (S$495).

The agents said they will get their Philippine counterparts to offer bribes of about $1,200 to immigration officers and airline ticketing staff to allow the women to leave the Philippines with "no questions asked". Such officers and airline staff are trained to ask those leaving the country to show proof that they are tourists - such as by showing they have enough money to spend and possess a return air ticket.

Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) president K. Jayaprema said the maids would lose out if they are brought into Singapore as tourists. Some agents might take the opportunity to jack up their placement fees to as much as $4,000. Others might get the women to work for less than the Philippines' minimum wage because they would no longer be covered by Manila's laws.

Ms Jayaprema said the Philippine government should accept the association's appeal to allow agents here to charge the maids up to two months of their pay in placement fees or about $1,000. She said this will encourage agents to bring workers in legitimately. The association has not received a response to its appeal letter, sent to Manila last month.

However Ms Bridget Tan, chief executive of foreign workers' group, the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, said it would be difficult for agents to bring in domestic workers illegally as Manila has cracked down on corrupt immigration officers and said Singapore agents can be charged with trafficking in the Philippines.

There are about 70,000 Filipino maids in Singapore. Some have admitted coming here as tourists after hearing that others who came here legitimately were charged up to $3,000.

One, who asked to be identified only as Ms Rowena, 41, said: "On paper the maids were not being charged any fees. But the agent deducted their salaries anyway once they got here. I found an agent who charged me only $2,000 even though I came in as a tourist, so I thought why not?"

Read: MOM tightens rules on maid changes, 4 January, 2013
Tightened measures to discourage employers from changing maids frequently will kick in today. The Ministry of Manpower has decreased the number of helpers a household can go through in a year until interviews are held to assess the situation before any further applications are made. The changes were announced in a circular to maid agencies, in order to better understand the reasons behind the frequent changes and to identify employers who need help "maintaining a positive working relationship" with their maids. Recent MOM figures cited in a Straits Times article last month showed that fewer than half the maids in Singapore complete a year of service before they are transferred or sent home - and the trend is worsening. Employers applying for a fifth maid within a year and whose previous four were all employed for less than three months each will now be interviewed by MOM before their work permit application is approved. New maids of such employers will also be interviewed within three months of starting work to see how they are coping with their new bosses and life in Singapore. Previously, only employers making their sixth or greater application within a year would have to be interviewed. 

Winter: MOM viewed each FDW change is due to employer being too demanding, not because maid has bad working attitude, lazy, wants an easy life, lied to get a job,dishonest, untrainable but requested to be transferred out. 

The losers are often the employers. You get punished for getting yourself entangled with a lousy domestic maid.  Nobody will pity you.  Employer looked impervious while maids are vulnerable, this is what MOM/activists want to believe and expect others to do the same.  They felt maids deserved endless chances, can make mistakes, not at fault for driving their employers to 'knock the wall', etc.

23 Dec 2012 - My sister has her share of FDWs' issues so did my other friends.  She hit a record of changing 4 bad maids in a year.  Her last maid was the most horrible, like a princess waiting to be served by her employers.  That filipino FDW jumped out of the window to run and hide in Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME).

Recently, was chatting with sis and asked whether she is keen to hire another maid.  She said wanted to hire one to take care of her 3 kids.  Her 3 kids are being taken care by relatives not living in the same housing estate.  It is a chore to ferry the 3 kids and not cheap to have this arrangement.

I said "你已经上岸何必自讨苦吃 You've relatives to help look after the 3 kids, why do you want to go through the ordeal as a FDW's employer?  If you don't want their help, you still have childcare centres to enrol your children." 

Singapore doesn't provide affordable childcare for citizens with 2 or more kids.  In terms of logistic and costs, it is cheaper to hire a live-in maid.  If you've an infant, it cost a lot of money to place him/her in an infantcare centre.  Spore employers are mostly not entitled to quality maids, unlike Hong Kong or Taiwan.... not many responsibilities to bear, no string tied on their necks.  Factored in all the costs, Spore employers actually paying more because all we get are inexperienced and stubborn domestic helpers waiting to be painfully trained in our houses for two years! 

Hong Kong or Taiwan employers just need to fork out about S$650 to $750 per experience FDH.  Not happy, poor performance...fire them, no loan to worry because all FDHs had arranged their loans before leaving their own countries.  Spore employers had to pay a fresh filipino $500 salary and $170/265 levy = S$670!! We also have maid loan to worry. Who actually paid more to hire a domestic helper?  More and more Spore employers are paying their FDWs, only to become one of the unlucky employers to get sufferings and stress.  Read: unfair policies

In theory, it sounds wonderful to have a domestic helper right there in your own home to help look after children and pick up after them, as well as clean, iron, cook, and be available for any number of mundane chores you would rather not do yourself.

You give your FDW a salary at the end of each month and provide her food, accomodation and health insurance - not out of love or compassion.  Most FDWs mind your children/elderly, cook, clean and wash for you not out of love but in return for a good salary. 

You are buying your maid's services. In a typical buyer-seller relationship, if the buyer feels that she is not getting what she pays for, she takes her business elsewhere, patronises another shop or supermarket. Similarly if your maid is not doing what you pay her to do, you can always replace her with someone more competent and/or willing.  The sad part as a Spore employer is that you must be prepared to pay money to your agency for a replacement, regardless how bad, how unsuitable that FDW was.  If you're a Hong Kong or Taiwan employers, you stand on upper hand.  Just fire them, no extra cost on your side!
Only you, your partner or family member (if unmarried) can decide if you should hire a maid.

THINK .... is a maid really needed?  Do you have better and safer options?  How much are you willing to trust a stranger walking around and occupying space in the same house?  You are ultimately bringing a stranger to live in your home. Of course, it will take time for trust and respect to develop but some people choose not to hire a live-in simply because they dislike the idea of a non-family member having access to their most private belongings and gaining an insight to the workings of their household and routines.

Although the recruitment agency is supposed to provide training, you are likely to find yourself saddled with a maid who has different hygiene standards and know little about modern amenities, much less the latest childcare philosophies! In my case, my FDW is facing a special needs child for at least 13 hours a day!

When you opt for a foreign live-in FDW, although many recruitment agencies can now arrange webcam or phone interviews with the candidate. Indeed, if the recruitment agent says there is a foreign maid already in the country that you can interview, probe further. It may turn out that she has been rejected by her previous employer after her arrival, or even that she has run away from her previous employer. This is because a foreigner cannot legally obtain a domestic worker visa and enter the country without a confirmed employer.
If anybody intend to employ a maid, thinking FDWs are extremely cheap and feels good to have somebody address you as 'mam or sir'... then you're on the wrong track!

Read: cost to hire a FDW

And like any resentful employee, you can take it out on your employer. Except you’re restricted to nasty Facebook posts and stealing staplers, whereas your maid is entrusted with your child or elderly parent. She probably also has free reign of your house and cooks your food. She is, by all definitions, not the right person to piss off.

22 Dec - If you are a DIY employer, you need not pay agency fee.  Read MOM website and do the transfer yourself.  Apply work permit and buy insurance.  Most experience maids do not have loan so it is a saving to hire them.
If you're getting a transfer maid thru an agency, the agent fee range from S$500 to S$1600 (based on year Dec 2012), depending on FDW's experience and nationality.

The transfer maid has to bear 1 to 2 months agent fee.  As an employer, you're required to help her pay in advance - whatever outstanding maid loan and transfer fee.  Try to show your transfer maid the cost that you've helped to pay.  If in doubt, get the agent to explain in your presence.  Try to get this sensitive money issued cleared before you hire her.  Some FDWs are so naive to think that agent has kindly helped them and they don't need to pay a simple cent.

Some FDWs bio-data are being polished by agents to make the transfer maids marketable.  One way to check how many employers a FDW had, go to MOM's Work Permit online to check.  One of my transfer maids had many employers, I was her 4th.  She didn't know each time she requested to be transferred out, agency charged her 1 month as transfer fee.   Nobody tell her she must work continously for 2 years, same employer in order to get home leave and return air ticket.  She worked almost 2.5 years in Spore with me her longest employer, slightly over a year.

The smart, experience domestic maids tend to be arrogant and hard to manage. If you see bio-data of FDW having worked for 3 employers over a period of 8 years and has a 'good employment record' that she can justly be proud of, highly regarded by a local as well as by expatriates employer, do not believe everything presented to you.  This transfer maid might have been a good worker but how true are her good employment records?  Did you meet or speak to her ex-employers (the real employer not any imposter)?  Most FDWs who have worked for expatriates have the same reason to leave "my expat employer is leaving Spore for good, I had to find new employer.  This is my testimonial from them!" 

One of my transfer maid's Agency told me, the first employer didn't exist because it is part of admin work to bring FDW in.  Got such thing?  Another agency told me her new transfer maid was not required by the employer because the old FDW wanted to return.  That FDW was in the agency since the day she stepped foot into Spore.  How true?  That FDW certainly was picky.  When I interviewed her, she was not smiling nor bothered to look at me.  When she knew I preferred FDW who doesn't use personal mobile phone during working days, she flatly turned down my job offer.

During interview, if the transfer maid said her employer does not need a maid because the children are not living with her, does she mean that employer hired her while her children were living with her in Singapore and now six months later the children have gone home and so she does not require maid's services anymore?  FDW claimed her local employer is going aboard, after she has worked for 3 months, how to believe?  And, of course, you would think it odd if an expat or a local, took three months to realise that she could not afford a maid! Well, this can happen if one of them becomes unemployed or retrenched.  Ask questions, if you don't feel comfortable to hire a transfer maid, don't take the risk.  Be safe than to have a devil in the house.  My stand is transfer maids are better than having a fresh maid who is hired plainly based on bio-data or web-interview.  To get a job in Spore, prospective FDW would reply 'yes' to everything, including no off day or no using of personal mobile phone.

Sometimes the reason the maid gives may be genuine but difficult to believe. For example one maid said that she wanted more privacy. She had to sleep in the kitchen for the four or five years that she had been with the family. How to believe when FDW nowadays are so good at giving feedback to MOM?  If privacy is so important, how come she could stay there for 4 years?  Some were so smart to run to HOME.  Her employer was good to her and she was well paid but why need to leave .... lack of privacy, is her real reason?  What kind of privacy does a FDW deserves?  It is not Singapore law that states FDWs must be given a private room.  It is pefectly legal to let your helper share the room with your child or a female.

If an employer says she does not need a maid because the children are not living with her, does she mean that she hired her maid while her children were living with her in Singapore and now six months later the children have gone home and so she does not require her maid's services anymore? FDW claimed her local employer is going aboard, after she has worked for 3 months, how to believe?  And, of course, you would think it odd if an expat or a local, took three months to realise that she could not afford a maid! Well, this can happen if one of them becomes unemployed or retrenched.  Ask questions, if you don't feel comfortable to hire her, don't take the risk.  Be safe than to have a devil in the house.

Whatever the reason may be for the ex-employer giving her incompetent and inept foreign domestic helper a good reference, it is becoming increasingly clear that the peculiarity of the work permit system for foreign domestic workers (or maids) is causing employers to be more generous in their remarks about their maid's "skills". Perhaps Singapore is the only country where employers do not close ranks in the face of "horror" maids, maids who star in horror stories and lies.

Some employers thought they have got themselves experience transfer maids, especially those who have completed 1.5 to 2-year in Spore and on transfer, a good bargain because there are no maid loan nor agency fee (if DIY) .... THINK, is that FDW is really so good, why didn't her employer retain her?

If the DIY job ad was posted by the FDW, she's so smart and hi-tech, do you really want to work with such a person?  Is she manageable?  What does she do online?  During the interview with her, read the signs!  Don't hesitate to post questions that proved FDW's skills are relevant and she's not lying.  Sadly, some are great actresses so it is not easy to tell.   How much can you trust a FDW who's in her own country, getting interviewed via webcam?  Won't you worry the person you've seen is the real person?  Some people look alike or the lighting is not good so when you see her in person, she's different, what can you do?  Tell you the truth, fresh FDWs have their own issues too.

Whether to hire fresh maid or transfer maid, it all depends on your luck.

Also, how much are you willing to accommodate a person from different background and culture?  Are you prepared to tolerate a princess FDW and willing to suit her needs? 

Why should I hire a maid?  (I've extracted this from another person's blog)

Most people in Singapore hire a maid to look after their babies/young children, or their elderly who may be very ill.

If you are a couple who are both working, and neither husband nor wife wish to stop working to take care of the baby, then you will need to consider the possible childcare arrangement:
1. Put your baby in infant care centre from 0 - 18 months old, or childcare centre from 18 months and above
2. Put your baby with babysitter
3. Put your baby with your parents if they are willing to take care
4. Hire a maid to take care of the baby

Those who already have babies will know how difficult it is to take care of a baby. A baby does not sleep at night, he will need to drink milk at least once in the middle of the night. Some babies need to be fed every 2 hours. Besides feeding, the baby may wake up and cry any time during the night. Imagine if you have to work the next day, unless you are a superman or superwoman, you will become a zombie. Do not over estimate your capability. Do not think that all babies just eat and sleep all the time. The night feeding may continue until the baby is 1 year old, although many babies can sleep through the night by 6 months old.

If you choose above options 1 - 3, you will still need to take care of the baby yourself at night. That's why many couples choose to hire a maid, since she can help to do the night feeding.

If you choose option 1, your baby may get sick very frequently, due to close contact with other babies. The PD fees will kill you, on top of the expensive fees at infant care centres.

Putting with babysitter may have it's own set of problems, since it may not be easy to find a good babysitter. One of my colleague refused to put her baby with babysitter, because of some horror stories she has heard of.

I know many grandparents who simply refused to help take care of their grandchildren. Even those who are in perfect health. My own parent-in-laws are an example. They do not want to give up their lifestyle. My mother has problems with her legs, so I need to hire a maid to help her. In my case, my first baby was very difficult to take care of. She could cry non-stop for a few hours at night. She had very serious reflux, and would vomit large amounts of milk every time after her feed. So we need to carry her almost vertically for about 45 mins after every feed, 3 hourly day and night ! All the vomitting also mean a lot of cleaning was required. She continued this way until she was 1 year old ! Sometimes when she was sleeping, milk came out through her nose, and she could not breathe! That time we were so worried, we slept with the lights on so that we could constantly checked on her. If I did not have a maid, I would not have survived.

So that leave many couples with option 4, hire a maid to take care of the baby at home. But I strongly advise you to hire a maid only if you have an elderly to help supervise the maid. I am fortunate that my mother can come and stay with me during the weekdays to help supervise the maid. Most couples will bring their maid and their baby to and from the grandparents' home everyday.

Of course the best option is for the mommy, or the daddy to stop work and stay at home to look after the baby. This is the best arrangement for the baby, mommy's love and attention are priceless. But nowadays, how many people are willing to give up their job to stay at home to look after their baby ? Giving up their job means giving up their lifestyle, no more shopping, travelling etc. Well not unless the other party in the marriage is earning a lot of money. Even so, not many people, man or woman, like to lose their own financial freedom.

Do you really need a maid?
Cost to hire a FDW
Employing M, my Indonesian FDW
An iphone/net savvy FDW
Irresponsible FDW
Maid killed by lover
Diabetic maid was transferred to other innocent employer
Allegations of maid abuse
Employers' woes
Being maid-less
Transfer maid or fresh maid?
Give FDW loan
Due diligence from maid agencies
Training an experienced maid
Finding a transfer maid
Unfair policies in Spore

24 November 2012, Straits Times
Given the Government's ongoing productivity push, it is time to question Singapore's reliance on live-in maids, and put real effort into developing alternatives

Last week, the Government estimated that resident households' demand for domestic helpers would increase by 100,000 maids by 2030, bringing the total to 300,000.

That increase - large enough on its own - is especially striking given ongoing efforts to reduce reliance on foreign workers.

Since 2009, the Government has been tightening foreign worker policy in response to public unhappiness over crowding and competition. It has persisted in the face of firms' complaints that the labour shortage is putting a damper on business. In response, the Government has said that economic growth should be fuelled more by productivity gains and less by increasing headcount.

Yet the domestic work sector seems to have escaped unscathed.

If anything, the Government has been making it easier to hire maids. Employers have to pay the Government a monthly maid levy, and the last time this rose was in 1998, from $330 to $345.

Since then, it has only fallen: to $295 in 2005, and again to $265 in 2007, where it remains today.

Both the tightening of foreign worker policy and the accompanying productivity drive seem to have passed this sector by. 
But why should this be the case, when the rest of the economy is not spared? It is not a question of possibility, for there is room to restructure Singapore's approach to domestic work.

Having fewer maids

Fewer than a fifth of resident households here employ maids, yet having one is now seen as a necessity - at least by some who take that option.

Witness, for instance, the outcry in March when the Government mandated a weekly day off for maids. There was further dismay in August, when the Indonesian government said it would introduce contracts requiring its citizens to be paid at least $450 a month as maids.

Such reactions would seem bizarre in many other developed countries, where live-in domestic help is rare and pricey. How, then, do those societies get by?

In Singapore, the burden of domestic work traditionally fell upon female household members, but has been shifting to hired help. In countries such as Japan and South Korea, that shift may not have happened to the same degree. Their female labour force participation rates are about 50 per cent compared to Singapore's 57 per cent, meaning that half of women of working age are not in the workforce. Many might instead be running their homes.

Of course, reducing Singapore's reliance on maids by requiring more Singaporean women to stay at home would be an unthinkably backward move, both socially and economically.

Nor is it necessary.

Countries with comparable rates of female labour force participation, such as Finland and Sweden, do perfectly well without large numbers of live-in maids, observes Dr Teo You Yenn, a board member of civil society group Association of Women for Action and Research.

Instead, families there are more likely to have access to affordable, high-quality, full-time childcare services, she says.

Parents can also take time off to care for children. And stronger social safety nets make it easier to scale down on full-time employment temporarily, while the children are still young.

In short, childcare is not the duty of a single caregiver - whether maid or mother - but is partly shared by both parents, and partly entrusted to service providers.

The same model can apply to maids' other duties such as cleaning and elder care.

Earlier this week, Best Home Employment Agency owner Tay Khoon Beng suggested that agencies should be allowed to recruit maids who visit different homes during the day but live in boarding houses provided by agents.

The potential productivity gains are clear. 
Now, a maid cleans only one house, but a part-time house cleaner can clean several each week.  A maid might care only for one or two children, but a childcare centre does not need one worker for every child who goes there.

And a maid might care only for one elderly person, but a care worker might visit several.

Singapore may need more such workers as a result. But that is still likely to be more efficient than a continued reliance on live-in maids.

What stands in the way

Such "alternative markets" are already present here, notes economist and National University of Singapore professor Shandre Thangavelu. But they remain underdeveloped "because the cost of live-in maids is still cheaper".

Most maids here are paid about $450 a month. Employers also pay a levy of $265, or $170 if they have elderly or disabled household members, or young children.
Meanwhile, the average monthly fee for full-day childcare is more than $800, according to government figures. To have a house cleaner visit four times a month could cost about $200 to $300.

That is why the cost proposition of a live-in maid is so compelling. She could do both childcare and cleaning duties - and more - for a relatively low price.

"Having the one woman do everything is extremely cost-effective. Unfortunately, middle class Singaporeans are stuck on that," says Institute of Southeast Asian Studies fellow Theresa W. Devasahayam.

Some services may not even be available or accessible. For elder care, having "a centralised facility such as a day-care centre could be one answer", says Dr Loke Wai Chiong, director of global health-care practice at KPMG in Singapore. But he cautions that this requires a broader range of types and pricing of community care.

As long as maids remain the easiest option, families have little reason to look for alternatives. Yet this lack of demand also makes it less likely that good, affordable alternatives will arise.

Prof Thangavelu sees a large role for the Government in ensuring the affordability and availability of childcare and elder care, including getting more involved in their provision.  Left to the market, such services would be overpriced and under-supplied, as providers do not take into account the social benefits, he says.

And "if there were more of such facilities, there would be less reason to turn to domestic workers", says Dr Devasahayam.

Besides freeing current employers of the need for maids, these alternatives could also help stay-at-home parents enter or re-enter the workforce.

Having the option

Academics acknowledge that it is hard to apply the cold lens of productivity to personal decisions about caring for loved ones.  For instance, "caring for an aged individual at home is still culturally preferable to the stigma associated with sending a loved one to an old-age home or institution", says Dr Loke.

There are also households whose needs may be best met by a live-in domestic worker. 
What is important, therefore, is not doing away with maids altogether, but providing good alternatives to employing one.

Different families will have different needs, "and that's fine as long as there really is a realistic range that people can opt from", says Dr Teo.

Instead of employing maids as an "all-in-one" option, employers can "choose the right bundle of services" for their needs, says Prof Thangavelu.

In reducing Singapore's reliance on low-wage foreign domestic workers, there are higher ideals at stake, too: moving away from the exploitation of low-wage labour, for instance, and helping to dismantle the view that domestic work has to be "women's work".

But until such concerns strike a chord with more people, there is still the familiar economic imperative of productivity.

That should, at least, spur the Government to action. It can help to make better and cheaper options available - and has begun to do so, with more childcare and elder-care centres on the way, and the possibility of more subsidies.

It remains for Singaporeans to seriously consider these alternatives and contemplate a life less reliant on the labour of a single individual.

Winter: If hiring FDW is made a neccessity by our PAP govt, FDW levy waiver should given to Singaporeans' combined household income that do not exceed S$6000 per month.  Conditions should be similiar to FDW grant - help families with disability, elderly, have 2 or more children.

CPF has all our salaries details so there should not be any tedious means testing.  Once employer applied for a FDW through a maid agency, the household income will be declared and a document to authorise CPF board to verify income and eligibility, will be auto-linked to MOM's work permit and FDW levy waiver officer.

To me, employing FDW is a painful and stressful option.  How I wish govt could build a nearby and affordable daycare centre to take in my girl so that I can work and kick FDW out of my house!

Can I help govt/MOM write a 2013 new year resolution?
1) FDW waiver for Singaporeans' whose combined household income that do not exceed S$6000 per month
2) build a few affordable daycare centres (below S$500) to take in special needs child from 3 to 18 years old.


  1. why worry if singaporean's cannot come up with what the MOM policy gave then DON'T hire a maid that's it and less stress to yourself also.....

  2. Before hiring a maid or a domestic helper, you really need to check their background first and be sure that you hire them from a trustworthy company. Don't risk your safety.

  3. because we can't afford to have either the wives/husbands stay at home and we need an extra pair of hands to look after our children and homes so maids were given a place in our households.

    before you judge any woman as lazy, how many of you clean/cook/work at the same time? or U just leave it to your old aged mum to clean.. please, use brains.

    you think it is fun to have another person in your house where your privacy is gone? or you have to pay extra whenever you go out as a family? is it okay to ask your ageing parents do your housework and help look after your children?

    To some, yes, we do have choice of not having any children, live in a 2 room flat or don't even get married. Say this to the govt and see what replies you'll get.

  4. You employed a maid because you needed one to help you not because you wanted a person to serve you as master. In planning to hire help, you must consider if you are open to having a "stranger live with you". She will probably get to know you better than some of your friends or relatives.

    It's best to keep the relationship strictly on an employer-employee basis while maintaining mutual respect. Some maids may get a little nosey every now and then so it's important to set clearly defined roles and boundaries. Some just come to your house with hack care attitude which explains why so many maids have short term employers listed in their employment history.

    The agencies will help you find "the right one" for a fee. How right is that maid? You'll know when she starts work, it will gradually unfold. There's no perfect maid. Count yourself lucky to get someone with good working attitude and stayed with you for 2 years - tahan each other.

    Within the first few days of your maid moving in, the training should be slowly taking shape. Take it seriously and be methodical. Get her to note down her daily / weekly / monthly tasks. Never assume she will know exactly how to perform these tasks. Specify what cleaning equipment or products to use when doing what. Setting limits and taking charge on when and how things are done is vital in working with your maid. You paid somebody to provide domestic service not the other way round.

    Decide and confirm your telephone rules with her. You should clearly define your interpretation of hygiene and safety. These are important in my house because I need maid to know she can carry out her duties during my absence.

  5. Hi, I have been very lucky to accept two maids into our family and it has been a terrific experience. My kids love them both. One is Indonesian and the other Philippines.
    In saying that I have had some bad maids and bad agencies. Yes they bend and break the law and yes I have taken the matter up with MOM...... Yep..nothing happened. Its unfair at times for the maid and the employer especially the first time employers. No real helpful advice from anyone, even the agencies.

    I hope to make a difference here.... I'm an Australian Expat and I am in the motions of opening a Maid Agency.... No crap just fairness for all..... I will be selective in maids and their capabilities and English skills. If its borderline then I will train them before placement. For employers I am offering after placement service and continued service.... I am raising the professional bar here and will get other agencies talking..... I will be opening a shop in three weeks time in Orchard Rd so keep a look out for a white guy running an agency and doing it properly. Any maids that want to be considered for transfers please knock on the door. I will not be charging anyone stupid costs.... I have been burnt by agencies and maids... So I know what to look for and how to eliminate problems.... Remember customer service , well I'm bringing it back in this industry.
    I will update again when I get the keys to the shop/office....look out for my website soon...Employment Services Singapore and Maid Services Singapore.
    I'm not just here for expats but everyone in this awesome country, Singapore


  6. Would like to share with you all on my bad experience with 6 maids in less than a year.
    Maid 1: Elisa - WP 008131287
    - Duration only 3months, early Oct 2013 to early Jan 2014
    - Mentally unsound. Playing with knife in the middle of the night as well as early in the morning.
    - Made police report and send her back to Indonesia
    Maid 2: Siti Watimah - WP 008194912
    - Duration, only 6months, Mid Jan 2014 to Mid July 2014
    - Telling lies non stop even caught red handed. Always looking for place to sleep, extremely lazy. Household chores totally cannot make it.
    - Send her back to Indonesia
    Maid 3: Supinah - WP 007097166
    - Duration, only 4days, end July 2014
    - Leg injury before coming, but Indo Agent insist she come Singapore for few days to try
    - She wanted to go back Indonesia for healing first.
    Maid 4: Feri Darmayanti - WP 008333769
    - Duration, 12days, Mid Aug 2014 to End Aug 2014
    - Quarrel with husband and insist to go home immediately
    - Threaten to kill herself by jumping down the window, knocking her head against the wall non stop, hunger strike, and even threaten to harm my family members.
    - Took a knife and threatened to cut her own wrist in front of the agency even.
    - Were being send back to Indonesia by the agent.
    Maid 5: Sxxxxx Sxxxxx (waiting for transfer)
    - Duration, 1month, early September 2014 to early October 2014
    - Ran away from my house. Luckily my daughter managed to chase after her and caught her back.
    - Insist want to change employer with no valid reason at all till date.
    - My agent have been asking her but she just kept silent.
    - A maid who's an ultra big eater. one who can eat 8 slices of bread for breakfast
    Maid 6: Sugiati - WP 00838133-
    - Duration, 7days
    - Just divorced with husband, so want to get away from her hometown
    - Not keen to learn nor to do anything
    - Can take the whole evening to wash the dishes and stay in the kitchen
    - Refuse to mop the floor everyday but to mop only once per week
    - Can tell me that from SIP attended, she were told that she have the right to transfer as long as she think she don't like the employer (WONDER WHAT'S OUR MOM DOING. SIP WERE TAUGHT BY THEIR OWN INDONESIAN, SO NOT SURPRISING AT ALL).
    - Agent send her back home immediately.

    Anyone has worst experience than me???

  7. Domestic Helper: Porillo Rosenie Tayco (Filipino)
    Work Permit: 026927323, Employed duration at my house: 5 months

    She claimed to have 2-3 yrs of experience looking after newborn and children at Qatar and love to cook, so I hired her. Her CV are at least 50% untrue as she don't even know how to cook well and jumped and screamed "Hot.. hot..." and moved away from the stove when she first tried to observe my mum cooking at the kitchen. Household chore (cleaning) is sub-standard (not cleaned). clothes with stain still have stain on them after washing. sometimes, she will tell me finish cleaning but either the task is not done or she jus anyhow do as she knew I was pregnant then and not likely to check her work.

    After she came, realised that she didn't really know how to look after newborn and caused my bb to vomit almost everytime after each feed and she don't know how to burp bb.
    Not a helper who cares about home and children's safety. She denied pouring hot water into a new lock and lock water jug (for the bb only) and caused the jug to be deformed. though we coached her previously to only pour cool water into the bb water jug. She even gave my bb water from the jug. we are so worried that bb may suffer from chemical poisoning due to the deformed jug. When she first came, she kettle with just boiled water on the kitchen floor.

    She hid her HP with attached charger under a blanket on her bed. it is a fire hazard. During the daytime, she would follow my bb to my mum's place. She purposely spoil my bb by carrying the bb (asleep / awake) so that she don't need to help to clean bb's things. Now, my bb is spoil and has to be carried and rocked to sleep. She would sometimes hide in my room (at my mum's place) to text when my mum's cooking dinner.

    Coached and taught her many things but quite stubborn in her thinking and kept saying she forgot when being questioned why she never follow instructions. v egoistic.

    Hid in her room for 6 hours after I told her off (because of the superglue case) and only came out after I called the agency to talk to her.

    The work scope are stated clearly in her contract and she agreed to the terms before coming to work in Singapore. Now, she kept telling ppl that she felt like working for 2 houses when she don't cook, don't need to do night feeds and only do some washing and cleaning of floors. Our family will help her out in taking care of bb as we felt insecure letting her taking care of bb alone.

    She is quite fussy about food. She said she don't take egg, peanuts and spicy food. So our family adjusted our meal because of her. She is also fussy about her coffee and shampoo. She don't take / use the coffee or shampoo given to her. sometimes, we had to run errand for her like helping her to buy her top up card, her specific brand and type of coffee, cake, MRT card and etc.

    finally, after 5 months, she knew she could not cope and she requested to go back to agency. Of cos we are glad to send her back. The only reason we left her stay previously is because we pitied her as her family needs her to work to support the family and she didn't ill-treat my kids. Without her, we are happy that we don't have to take care of 1 more "fussy and not much contribution" person at home.

    After she left, we discovered that she is so disgusting to stick 3 pieces of chewed chewing gums under our teakwood bedframe (to think that we knew that she likes sweet stuff and gave her chewing gums previously). She purposely placed our wedding albums (originally placed in one of the bookshelf) under her bed. Maybe, she thought by doing so, she had an upper hand over us (too bad.. her trick didn't work.)

    The above are jus a fraction of the dissatisfaction with her.
    MOM jus sent me a letter that her work permit will be transferred to another employer.

  8. I thought of hiring another maid because I thought of having another kid. I had maids before and honestly, I find that the work attitude worsens with each passing year and with each change of maid. It has been 3 years since I had a maid and silly me actually thinks that maybe things are different now since the law seems to be harsher on maids who abuse children and elderly.
    After reading through your newest post, I think I will stick to 2. I have done my part in replacing the population for the country. No amount of reduction in maid levy is going to get me to hire a maid to care for a kid when they have bad work attitude. And honestly, the price of childcare/infant care is far too high not to mention the high cost of living daily.
    I honestly think that maids should only be allowed to transfer a few times a year just like maid employers. It will be fairer to both. Bad attitude maids may just realise that they cannot treat employers as fools and in the process, maybe only maids who are really keen to work will come, thereby reducing trouble for the employers and their family. Just as maids are allowed to job hop, employers should be allow to change maids. No matter what is said, til now, the onus of paying for a bad maid still lies on the employer until the loan is paid up and for repatriation.
    All the crap about maid being slaves and that the employer has power is not really true. All the stories about how employers counsel, close 1 eye only says that all the power lies in the hands of the maids now. The fact is, maids are human beings and not all human beings are angels or as dumb as some people like to think they are.
    And as a employer, the only choice that one can made is choose not to hire a maid. I still remember my last maid, I was working harder than her and being treated like an unending atm for her "requests" and carelessness, because cannot trust her even with housework (mould on kids drinking bottle) and not to mention my kids even when they are in full day childcare.
    I think I will stick to 2 kids just so I never have to hire a maid again now that I am reminded of the ordeal I had to go through with a maid just so my kid can be old enough to go childcare.


This blog is not meant for screw-lose activists or loans. My blog aims to gather all FDWs' news scattered everywhere, become a one-stop site for mentally & financially bullied FDWs' employer to beware and learn. Don't pollute this blog with your pro-maid, insensible and selfish comments! Activists posting here are BLIND IDIOTS, IRRITATING freaks and deliberately showing no RESPECT for others... robbing our only breathing space.