5 Things Not to Overlook When Hiring A Foreign Domestic Worker

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the foreign domestic worker (FDW) landscape in Singapore. Not only are international travel restrictions creating a shortage of new FDWs, potential employers also have to grapple with stricter requirements such as stay-home notice (SHN), COVID-19 tests, as well as higher administrative fees for incoming FDWs.

Nevertheless, many families are still looking to hire FDWs, especially those who need the extra help with household chores or looking after their young or elderly dependents at home.

If you’re considering hiring an FDW for the first time or as a replacement, fret not! Here are five tips to help you ensure a smoother process.

#1 – Evolving hiring requirements

First things first, be aware of your responsibilities as an employer, as well as any policy changes in Singapore and by your FDW’s home country. This is crucial in preventing any contractual disputes down the road.

In the past, it usually took one to four weeks from the application process to the time a new FDW can start working at the employer’s home. But now, you’ll have to take into consideration possible delays due to overseas flight shortages, difficulty in coordinating the date for pre-departure COVID-19 tests with the flight date, etc. Furthermore, you’ll have to factor in time for your FDW to clear a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon entry into Singapore, serve a SHN ( usually in a dedicated facility), and take a COVID-19 test before her SHN is over.

Apart from the longer wait, fees payable to an employment agency and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is estimated to be 40% higher now compared to pre-pandemic times*. These costs include providing your incoming FDW with a mobile phone with a Singapore number for monitoring purposes during her SHN. Employers also need to purchase COVID-19 medical insurance of at least S$10,000 coverage for the event that the helper develops COVID-19 symptoms and tested positive within 14 days of arrival in Singapore.

#2 – Potential cultural differences

If you feel slightly apprehensive about your new helper’s arrival, chances are that she feels the same way too. After all, she does come from a different cultural background.

Even if your FDW’s bio indicates that she speaks English (or another language/dialect), she’ll still need time to adjust to our local nuances. So, try to assess her language skills when you meet her and teach her useful phrases or words along the way. In fact, a bit of Singlish could come in pretty handy when she needs to interact with hawkers or stall owners at the neighbourhood shops!

As much as possible, try to see things from your FDW’s perspective and exercise patience when communicating, especially as she learns to adapt to your culture, lifestyle and language.

A member who goes by the handle Estéema on the KiasuParents forum recalled how her first Indonesian maid didn’t want to order any food when she was first taken out by the family to eat satay. Rather than jumping to the conclusion that her maid was rejecting the family’s hospitality, Estéema realised that it was because her maid found the satay too pricey as compared to in her home country.

#3 – Rules and Advice

If you have certain house rules, do lay them down and ensure that your maid understands why they are important. For example, remind her to carry out all tasks safely, such as cleaning the exterior of apartment windows only when you (or another adult family member) are present to supervise or assist her. Preempt her on matters such as the pitfalls of phone/online scams or borrowing from illegal moneylenders to prevent dire consequences in future.

Try to work out any issue rationally with your FDW. However, should disputes arise, be aware of the relevant avenues or authorities you can turn to for mediation, such as the employment agency, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) or the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST)

#4 – Relevant compensation

While it is your responsibility to pay your FDW’s monthly salary on time and compensate her with one-day’s salary if your FDW agrees to work on her stipulated off day, you can also consider going above and beyond to reward a hardworking and reliable FDW. For example, encourage better performance and loyalty through salary increments, bonuses, and occasional treats such as buying her new clothes or inviting her along for your family’s vacations.

A mother of two, who goes by the handle doodbug on the KiasuParents forum shared that her current Filipino helper gets S$700 a month and also received a S$500 bonus last December, in addition to red packets for Chinese New Year and birthdays.

Other employers like Estéema and her family even goes to the extent of sponsoring their Myanmarese maid’s weekly hair-cutting course so that she is equipped with a skill for the future.

#5 – Your FDW’s health and well-being

Taking care of your FDW’s physical and emotional well-being is an important factor in showing that you care.  

Provide reassurance that your actions or thoughts are in the mutual interest of your FDW and your family. For example, KiasuParents member nms1 reasonably sticks to her rule-of-thumb that she wouldn’t ask her maid to do anything that she wouldn’t do if she was a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).

Besides paying her salary on time and providing her meals and lodging, let your FDW know that you have her best interests in mind by providing her with medical care should she fall ill or get injured. In fact, it’s compulsory for employers to purchase medical and accident insurance for your helper before she arrives in Singapore. Coverage must be at least S$15,000 and S$60,000 per year respectively**. Additionally, there’s the aforementioned COVID-19 insurance of at least S$10,000 medical coverage if your helper develops COVID-19 that you’ll have to include.

As an employer, you may wish to choose an insurance plan that offers multiple benefits or enhance your FDW’s current insurance to give her more protection as she cares for your family and household needs.

Choose FWD for your FDW

FWD is the first insurer to provide complimentary medical coverage for your helper’s pre-existing medical conditions and also the only insurer to pay directly to MOM for your helper’s security bond, up to S$5,000, without any extra cost.

FWD Maid insurance provides complimentary COVID-19 medical coverage of up to S$25,000 for all FDWs for hospitalisation/medical expenses during the period of insurance, which goes beyond the MOM-required coverage of at least $10,000 within 14 days of arrival in Singapore. This provides you and your helper a greater peace of mind.

If your FDW is already covered with an existing maid insurance from any insurer, you can also enhance her coverage with FWD’s attractive independent add-ons:

  • Cashless outpatient medical expenses. FWD pays up to S$30 per doctor’s visit after the employer pays the first S$10 at FWD’s network clinics.
  • Six-monthly medical examination. FWD’s medical examination package helps you save on MOM’s mandatory 6-monthly medical tests (for pregnancy and syphilis). You can also choose to get the tests done at home or at FWD’s selected clinics.
  • If your Filipino maid is going on home leave or needs to renew her passport, you’ll need to purchase a Philippine Embassy Bond and submit it to the embassy. In case the bond is called, you do not need to pay anything more and FWD will pay it for you. 

Find out more at http://bit.ly/FWDxKSP_Maidinsurance

This article is sponsored by FWD Singapore.

This is for general information only and does not constitute financial advice.

Buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment. You should consider if this policy is suitable for your needs, or you may wish to seek advice from a qualified financial adviser before making a commitment to purchase this policy. Switching from an existing policy to a new one may have potential disadvantages.

This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

*Channel News Asia – Demand for new maids high despite extra costs amid COVID-19 restrictions, risk of imported cases

**Ministry of Manpower – Insurance requirements for foreign domestic workers