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Find a Reliable and Trustworthy Maid Agency in Singapore

The need to hire a maid or a home helper is becoming higher and higher these days, what with the hectic lifestyle of people who struggle to hold multiple jobs and run their families at the same time. At times like these, many people would love to have someone help them with chores like apartment cleaning and general housekeeping, making their life easier. 

But the real struggle is hiring the most reliable maid employment service that you are comfortable with, and sustaining a trustworthy relationship with them even after hiring a maid. Before we even get to the hiring part, there are many factors to consider and procedures to follow. Here we have carefully laid out and detailed a comprehensive to-do list to help you with all things regarding hiring the best maid agency for you, your family and your home. 

PART 1: Self-preparation

Before you decide on getting a home helper for your family, you need to ask yourself if you are prepared to hire a maid. This is very crucial, because it will help you choose the agency and convey your thoughts and needs of hiring a foreign domestic worker to the agency later on. Take as much time as you want to get this right.

Among the questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • Am I financially ready to hire a full-time home helper?
  • Am I able to cater to the needs of the maid i.e. accommodation, time, medical needs?
  • Am I  prepared to have another person stay with my family given that this person will be living in our home and sharing our personal space?

If your answers to these questions are all positive, then you are in the clear to carry forward with your hiring plan.

Apart from this, it is also thoughtful to come up with a list of expectations you have for your prospective maid. The list should contain, among others, the reason you need a domestic worker, if you have children or elderly that the worker would need to care for as well as the job scope of the worker. This list will work wonders in helping you to gauge your needs in managing your home, as well as to ensure the prospective maid agency knows what you are looking for in hiring a home helper.

You are also required to attend the Employer’s Orientation Program (EOP) if you have no experience hiring a maid before. This program can be done either via a classroom setting or via online. 

The EOP is required for first time employers and for employers who have changed FDWs frequently (i.e. more than 3 maids within a 12 month period). The classroom training fees cost S$35-S$60, while the online training module costs S$35.

First time employers may nominate a representative or sponsor to attend the EOP on their behalf if they meet certain criteria such as having a physical disability, having a medical condition or if they are a new or expectant mother. MOM has provided a flowchart for the exemption procedures relating to the EOP

You may also choose to do the EOP after you have selected your employment agency or confirmed your helper with them. 

PART 2: Research

For you to be able to choose one foreign domestic worker agency that is reliable and is worthy of your trust, you first need to survey and list agencies as much as you can by all channels possible. You can browse the internet for suggestions, or can just go to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) website to get a list of employment agencies in the local industry. 

But that isn’t all. There are many factors that would ensure that you’ve got the most trustworthy agency out there, among others:

  1. Licence

The MOM website has a detailed Employment Agency and Personnel Search directory (EA Directory) on employment agencies and their staff. You can simply key in their names or agency license number in the search bar provided and obtain key information about the agencies such as the agency’s contact information, staff and management information etc. You can also get information on agencies that are under the ministry’s surveillance, have their licence revoked or those that are under certain programs under the ministry. 

All agencies are required to have their business licenced by MOM and all of their personnel registered with the ministry as well. All of their advertisements must also feature their licence number, so if you come across an advertisement of a maid agency that does not have any licence number in it, you may want to be cautious in considering them. 

Apart from that, they must also produce a registration card for all of their staff. The card should contain their photo and the registration number. So, if you are meeting an agency staff, ask for their card. You can verify their identity against the MOM’s directory. 

  1. Experience

Although this may or may not indicate the service quality of the maid agencies, it is useful to find out the years of experience these agencies have in the industry. By knowing their years of experience, you can easily gauge their familiarity with the hiring process and their ease in handling the technicalities associated with the industry.

  1. Placement volume

This metric shows how many FDWs are placed by the agency in question in a year. This metric should be interpreted together with the agency's experience. Some employers may prefer an agency with lower placement volumes as they feel that they get more personalised attention from the agent, however some may prefer an agent with higher placement volumes so as to have a larger candidate pool to pick from.

  1. Retention rates

You might also want to know this, which is basically the percentage of home helpers that were placed by the maid agencies who have worked under the same employee for at least a year.  Knowing this will help you understand if the agency is dedicated to find the most suitable maid for their clients, hence contributing to a long tenure by the foreign domestic workers (FDWs). 

  1. Transfer rates

This is the percentage of maids who have been transferred to 3 or more employers in the past year. The transfer rates can allow you to gauge the maid agency’s employer-employee matching skills.

  1. Reviews

MOM has compiled an aggregate score of each agency's service levels based on their client's ratings. Based on these ratings, one can compare how competent the agency is in terms of before and after placement service.

 

You can also refer to the list of agencies on I Want Helper. Licensed and verified agencies are indicated in their respective agency pages. 

PART 3: Selection

After collecting all these data from various sources, you should have a number of agencies that you are eyeing. What should your list look like though? Your priorities from the criteria given above are entirely your choice, but generally the list should comprise of MOM licenced agencies that have a decent number of years of experience with high placement volume, retention rate and low transfer rate.

So, what’s next? 

Now is the time you call these agencies and get into conversation with each one of them. You can either call them and have a chat, or book an appointment with them to discuss further. When you do this, you need to have a list of well-thought questions that you should ask them in order to receive the success of their FDW placements. 

But worry not, we have listed some questions that will be of help during your conversations with these maid agencies (the list is non-exhaustive):

  • What is their fee structure?
  • What is included in the fees?
  • How much is the security bond and insurance fee for the worker that you are required to make?
  • Does the agency provide training programs for the FDW? If so, what are they?
  • What is the total cost for you as an employer - including fronting cost for the helper’s portion of the loan with the agency?
  • What are the services that the maid agency offers once the helper has been handed over to you? Do they provide dispute resolution if there are any disagreements between the employer and helper? 
  • Will the agency provide free replacement if required? If yes, how many times? And how soon will the agency provide a replacement?
  • What are the additional costs and terms associated with the replacement service provided by the agency?
  • What are the payment terms i.e. deposit required upon confirmation of helper? In what circumstances will the deposit be returned to you? 
  • When will your chosen FDW candidate arrive?? 
  • How are disputes with youhandled if it arises? Understanding the dispute resolution mechanism is crucial so that you are aware of what channels you can explore if disputes occur. Contractual disputes can also be handled through the Small Claims Tribunals if other mediation avenues are unsuccessful.
  • What is their protocol for emergency situations such as the maid disappearing or wanting to terminate their employment?

Now you have a list of answers from all of the agencies you spoke to and interviewed in your quest of committing to the most reliable maid agency service in the island. You can finally sit and discuss with your loved ones on your findings and make your choice.

PART 4: Agreement

So now that you have chosen one maid agency that you deem is the most trustworthy and you are most comfortable to work with.

You’re confident that this agency will work hard in helping you hire the prospective maid, and that they will provide you the best service pre and post hiring. 

But that is not the end. You still have to go through some processes to ensure the reliability of the agency. 

Once you have decided on the agency, the next obvious step is to inform them of so. This is the time your list of expectations and needs for hiring an FDW comes in handy. Sit with the agency representative and talk thoroughly on the items in your list and ensure that they are able to match you with someone that fits the list. This step is crucial as it will allow you to find out if the agency is dedicated in finding the right match for you and if they will be able to find the right match by the end of an agreed period. 

If they are agreeable to your expectations as well as to find the right match within the stipulated time frame, then you may proceed to the next step in the process, which is the signing of the service agreement between you and the maid agency.

This agreement is essential to the relationship between you and your maid agency. Once you have the agreement with you, make sure you read the agreements and its fine print as thoroughly as possible. This may be arduous and boring, but this will definitely bear fruit if you have any questions on their service or if you are embroiled in any dispute with the agency or with the worker.

Ensure that the agreement has the answers to the questions you asked previously during your selection process. There are also other items that the service agreement should include, among others:

  • The validity of the agreement.
  • Refund (the fee, situations that allow refund, time period of which you can expect the refund, and what happens if this is not followed).
  • Replacement (who bears the cost, the amount of times you are allowed free replacements, timeframe for the replacement, situations that allow replacement and what happens if this is not followed).
  • Breakdown of every cost involved in the hiring process, and a detailed description of the payment methods. 
  • Dispute resolution matters (what are the resources available, the time frame for resolution, and fees, if any, that will be incurred in the event of any dispute resolutions).

You may also refer to MOM’s sample service agreement to ensure that the standard terms are covered. Again, take as much time as you need to fully comprehend the agreement. If you are completely satisfied with the content of the agreement, you can now sign it and move ahead to the next step.

PART 5: Hiring

Congratulations, you now have a maid employment agency looking for perfect fit as per your needs and expectations. 

Once the agency finds a maid for you to hire and welcome into your home, there are some responsibilities that the agency is required to fulfil, as below:

  • The agent should provide you with the maid’s full biodata and her employment history, and toensure that the biodata is correct and valid. 

  • Ensure that the maid suggested has the minimum criteria set by MOM for hiring FDWs: must be of at least 23 years old and has 8 years of formal education. 

  • Mediate the signing of the safety agreement between you and the employee.

Now sit back and relax as the agency finds a suitable helper for you or completes the paperwork for your chosen candidate.

I Want Helper helps employers connect with domestic helpers and agencies. Find a domestic helper by posting a job or browse candidate profiles. The employment agencies on our platform are verified and personally visited by the I Want Helper team.

The Complete Guide to Hiring a Domestic Helper in Malaysia

We've got you covered. Read our comprehensive guide on how you can hire a domestic helper in Malaysia.

With the increasing number of dual income families in Malaysia, most households have a hard time balancing work and family responsibilities. As such, there is healthy demand for domestic helpers and maids to help families alleviate the pressures of maintaining a clean household, babysitting kids, caring for elderly parents, caring for the sick and the usual household tasks of cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.

According to the Malaysian Maid Employers’ Association (Mama), there are more than 250,000 registered domestic workers in Malaysia.

Eligibility on Hiring a Domestic Helper in Malaysia

In order to employ a domestic helper or maid in Malaysia, you have to satisfy these eligibility requirements:-

  • You must be a citizen or a permanent resident of Malaysia
  • Your reasons for hiring a maid must include being a married couple, single parent or individual with:
    • children under 15 years old
    • sick or ill parents
 

There are also income requirements for employers depending on the helper’s source country:-

Country of Origin Employer’s Net Income Payment (Personal Bond)
Indonesia RM3000 RM250
The Phillippines RM5000 RM750
Sri Lanka RM5000 RM750
Thailand RM3000 RM250
Cambodia RM3000 RM250
India RM5000 RM750
Laos RM3000 RM1500
Vietnam RM3000 RM1500

Who cannot hire Domestic Helpers in Malaysia?

Individuals who are bankrupt, have pending cases with the Immigration Department of Malaysia and/or have been blacklisted by the Labour Department.

Other points to note when hiring a domestic helper in Malaysia:

Domestic Helper's Upkeep and Maintenance

  1. FDH (foreign domestic helper) can only be tasked to do domestic chores. (not including car wash)
  2. FDH should be given proper food, rest and sleep, as well as room accommodation equipped with basic facilities.
  3. FDH cannot marry in Malaysia while on PLKS (Temporary Foreign Worker Permit)
  4. FDH cannot apply for an Entry Permit while she has an issued PLKS.
  5. FDH cannot change employment without the permission of the Immigration Department of Malaysia.
  6. Employers or agencies aren’t allowed to strike or inflict any act that may harm or injure the FDH.
  7. Both the employer and FDH have to strictly adhere to the conditions of the employment contract. Employers who have been given permission to employ FDH, but failed to comply with the conditions will be blacklisted in the future.
  8. For the continuation of the PLKS or applying for the Check Out Memo (document needed when terminating the Work Permit of foreign workers), the employer is responsible for keeping and submitting the payroll records of the FDH upon request, paying the FDH’s monthly salary, and paying for the medical treatment of the FDH during employment.

Conditions for Employers

  1. Employers who are hiring FDH for ill family members need to present medical reports or proof of relationship.
  2. Muslim employers may only hire Muslim maids.
  3. Non-Muslim employers who hire Muslim maids must respect and allow FDH to do their religious practices.
  4. A couple or family is only allowed to employ 1 maid at a time.
  5. Employers are accountable for reporting to the Immigration Department if the FDH is deceased, has gone missing or has absconded.
  6. If an employer or a spouse dies, their beneficiaries should report to the Immigration Department to verify the status of the new employer of the FDH.
  7. Employers who want to take the FDH to work in overseas stations are required to inform the FDH’s country of origin representative in Malaysia.

Other Conditions

  1. Approval from the Immigration Department is needed if the employer or the FDH wishes to terminate domestic services or to get the Check-out memo from the Department of Deportation if the pass has expired. 
  2. Request for PLKS extension should be submitted to the Immigration Office three months before the expiry and after FDH has passed the medical examination.
  3. Immigration Department of Malaysia has the right to revoke the issue of approved passes and the power to transfer the FDH without the consent of the original employer.

Countries You Can Hire Helpers From

The countries that employers are allowed to hire from are:

  • Thailand
  • Philippines
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Cambodia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Laos
  • Vietnam

Qualifications For Foreign Maids

  • Must be a female
  • Must be between 21 to 45 years old
  • Must have an approval from an appointed medical center
  • Must be a resident of her country of origin
  • Must have a Visa with Reference (VDR) issued by the Malaysian representative office in the country of origin
  • Does not have an active Temporary Work Permit (PLKS) with other employers
  • Must have a Certified Pass for Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) at the source country

Steps on applying for admission of a foreign domestic helper in Malaysia

 Here’s a brief summary of the process:

Steps
Identify suitable domestic helper
Fill up relevant application forms and submit to State Immigration Offices in accordance with the employer’s address
FDH gets approval letter for Visa With Reference at the Malaysian Representative Office in country of origin
Employer or agency will report the presence of the FDH at the State Immigration Office or Immigration Headquarters that approved the visa
FDH will be provided a 30-day pass to enter Malaysia at permitted entrances
Employer or agency will wait for FDH at permitted entrance
Employer or agency required to bring FDH to any FOMEMA Pte. Ltd registered clinic. (within 1 month)
When FDH passes the medical exam, they will get a Visitor’s Pass Sticker in accordance with approved period of VDR in approval letter
Upon receiving the Visitor’s Pass Sticker(Temporary Work Permit), the FDH is now allowed to work until the deadline placed on the sticker or PLKS

Since January 2018, employers can apply for a foreign domestic helper through the Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia's online portal, Sistem Maid Online (SMO). The portal allows employers and maid agencies to submit the necessary paperwork online. Once your domestic helper is in the country on a valid Social Visit pass, you may start the application process through the Sistem Maid Online portal.

For further guidance on how to use the portal, please contact the Jabatan Imigresen via their hotline at 03-88801468 (call centre Unit Pembantu Rumah Asing) / Email : admin_maidonline@imi.gov.my

Now that you have an idea of the regulatory requirements, you’re probably deciding on how best to search for a domestic helper, be it through a maid agency or directly.

Costs of Hiring a Domestic Helper in Malaysia

Since the Immigration Department of Malaysia expanded hiring options for domestic helpers in 2018, you have other ways to go about hiring a domestic helper in Malaysia than through a maid agency. You may choose to source for and hire a helper directly without going through middlemen.

Each route has its pros and cons so let’s break it down by time, budget, and preference.

Hiring Through A Maid Agency

What are the costs associated with hiring a helper in Malaysia?

Let’s break it down into individual costs:-

  • Malaysian agency’s placement fee can start from RM3,000 onwards. This fee is mostly made up of a fee for matching employers to suitable candidates, processing and facilitation of the various employment-related visas and documents
  • Overseas agent’s fees for services such as recruitment of the said helper, arrangement of the helper’s exit visas in her home country
  • Other fees such as work permit costs, flight tickets, training costs, medical check-up fees and insurance costs
 

However bear in mind, the final amount paid by employers will only be a part of the total fees as the other part is the fee paid by the helpers to their agents (typically 2-6 months of their monthly salary). The employer is expected to front the helper’s portion of the fee. The amount will be recovered by the employer progressively over the next few months once the helper starts work.

 

The minimum salary of an Indonesian domestic helper as of 2019 (updated) is RM1,000 per month, a Filipino domestic helper expects to be paid a minimum of US$400 a month, which translates to approximately RM1,600 per month (US$1 = RM4).

However, the actual market rates for Indonesian and Filipino helpers can vary greatly from the official minimum salary level, depending on the helper's experience and qualification. Furthermore, many helpers, especially the experienced ones tend to gravitate to countries that can offer higher pay such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Employers in Malaysia should be prepared to fork out RM1,800 per month for Filipino helpers and RM1,500 per month for Indonesian helpers. 

 

While the Malaysian and Indonesian governments have imposed an official fixed rate of RM8,000 on Malaysian employers for the hiring of an Indonesian maid, in reality, an employer will need to initially fork anywhere from RM12,000 to RM18,000 to employ a maid from Indonesia or from other countries. This comprises of:-

  • Agent’s fee to helper (paid upfront by the employer): RM5,400 - RM9,600
  • Agent’s fee to employer: RM3,000
  • Other ancillary costs
 

 

Costs of a Direct Hire Domestic Helper

Given the prohibitive cost of hiring a domestic helper through employment agencies, the Malaysian government are allowing employers to hire domestic helpers directly from approved source countries online, without going through maid agencies. Read more about the process of hiring domestic helpers directly here.

As stated by Immigration Department Director-General, Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, the overall cost of hiring a foreign helper directly will range from RM1,600 up to RM2,500, including levies, depositing fee, and other processing fees.

The employer will also be required to shoulder other costs such as the flight fees  depending on which country your domestic helper is from, insurances and other fees for training and medical checkup.

Maid Agency VS. Direct Hire: What Are The Pros and Cons?

Having looked at the costs, here are the things you should consider when deciding between the two options.

Maid Agencies

The major drawback of using an agency is the high cost. Aside from its higher rates, there have been complaints about the completion timeframes. For a typical placement, it takes about 2 to 3 months for you to hire a maid. Some agencies also require additional fees to hasten the process.

However, using an agency is an ideal solution for those who want a easy and hassle-free process from sourcing candidates to negotiating the terms, completing the visa/work permit arrangements and finally settling the logistics of getting the helper into the country themselves.

Furthermore, many agents include additional services as part of their fees to include the helper’s training, orientation, replacement policy for changing helpers and counselling and mediation services should there be any issues between the employer and domestic helper.

Specialist agencies can also source for helpers who have special skills in newborn care, elderly or nursing care.

Direct Hire Maids

For direct hiring, its low cost may already be a winning factor for some. Once you have identified your prospective candidate, processing your application through the MyOnline*Maid system is expected to take only about 5-7 days.

Even so, there are still things you should be mindful of. If doing all the legwork is not an issue for you, it’s might be harder to find a maid on your own without having various candidates to review from an agency’s database.

Unless your prospective helper is already in the country and possesses a social visit pass, it might be challenging for you to search for and identify the right candidate all the way from Malaysia. This translates into a longer recruitment process and you should factor this in when deciding between a direct hire maid or agency.

Comparison of hiring a maid through an agency vs direct hiring

Source Costs Time Taken Pros Cons
Through an agency Agent’s fee to helper (paid upfront by the employer): RM5,400 - RM9,600

Agent’s fee to employer: RM3,000-RM20,000

Other ancillary costs

Usually takes about 2 to 3 months -Easy and hassle-free process

-Trained and certified domestic helpers

-Replacement policy and counselling for employers and employees

-Refund of fees

-Specialized helpers for sick patients, children and elderly

-High cost

-Additional fees

-Long process

Through direct hiring RM1,600 up to RM2,500, including levies, deposit fee, and other processing fees 5-7 days -Short process
-Lower cost
-Difficulty in doing all the legwork, searching for helpers and processing of documents

-Risk of being scammed

-Lack of training

Other Alternatives

Apart from hiring a full-time live-in helper, you may wish to consider looking for part-time domestic help.

While local Amahs are not so easy to find nowadays, there are still part-time domestic helpers who are willing to come in a couple of hours every day to help with chores such as cleaning, cooking and laundry. Local live-in amahs can command salaries of up to RM2,500 to RMR3,500 a month in the Klang Valley area.  

If you have kids, opting for a daycare center may also be another option, coupled with family members who can help you with the school drop-off and pick-up.

The key here is to weigh your options against your individual circumstances and requirements. Whether you’re going through a maid agency, opting for a direct hire or a combination of direct hire - agency to help with the documentation, always go the extra mile to ensure each option satisfies your requirements with respect to convenience, time and budget.

Written by the I Want Helper team.

I Want Helper helps employers connect with domestic helpers and agencies. Find a domestic helper by posting a job or browse candidate profiles. The employment agencies on our platform are verified and personally visited by the I Want Helper team.

Oct 2019 NEWS: Better match for employers and foreign domestic helpers (FDWs)

To encourage better matching of employers to their foreign domestic helpers or FDWs, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore will be introducing some measures over the next few years starting from October 2019. Among these measures are: 


mom better matching employers to domestic helpers

Free Dispute Resolution

If you are an employer and have issues with either your employment agency or domestic helper, you can choose to have a neutral party mediate. Often times, ending the working relationship will be a costly endeavour for the employer, considering the cost of replacement and the time spent interviewing suitable replacements.


Before terminating your domestic helper's contract, you may approach the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) and Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) for free dispute resolution services.


CDE will work with the Lutheran Community Care Services (LCCS) to offer dispute resolution services. The objective of this service is to de-escalate and resolve conflict, and to restore relationships between affected parties. LCCS is an independent and non-profit charitable organisation and has individuals certified by the International Institute of Restorative Practice (IIRP)


For free dispute resolution services please contact CDE via CDE’s 24-hour helpline (1800-2255-233) or email (contact@cde.org.sg).


FAST’s mediation service is provided by individuals who are trained and certified by the Singapore International Mediation Institute (SIMI). FAST’s 24-hour helpline (1800-339-4357), phone (6509 1535 - request for the social support department) or email (contact@fast.org.sg).


Refer to this information leaflet for further details on mediation services by CDE and FAST


Better Information for Employers and Employment Agents to Help Selection of FDWs


Employers and maid agencies will be able to obtain more detailed information on the candidate's work history including previous work experience of the candidate, in addition to the FDW’s length of employment, in Singapore. This includes the key job scope, residence type and household size, and the reason for leaving the last employment.


How It Works

Employers:  Post jobs for free. Browse domestic worker profiles and hire directly. Or compare and pick employment agencies to help you with the whole process.

Domestic Helpers: Post your profile and find jobs all around Asia, quickly and easily.

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Testimonials

Mdm Foong Sau Lan (Employer)

I Want Helper is so useful as i gathered lots of good information from the posts. I am totally new to hire maid. Mei had been very patient giving her best advice to me step by step.
Thanks Mei.
Trust this service will continue to help many people looking for good helpers. 

comma

Ms Rhuzsell Mercado (Job Seeker)

Fastest action for helping people and guiding employers.

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