Singapore government urged to give maids the day off
"Newcomers usually have their mobiles taken away, aren't allowed to communicate with family or neighbours and get no day off. The working conditions here are making people go crazy."
Domestic helpers – nearly one-third of which come from the Philippines – work an average of 14 hours a day, with only 12% given one day off per week, according to a new report.
Employers negotiate contracts directly with their workers, with many offering a monthly payment of around £25 if no rest day is taken. Salaries range from around £125 to £350 a month, although many workers receive no pay for the first six to 11 months of their contract due to agency fees.
Mandatory rest days are already enshrined in employment law in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and it seems Singapore's domestic employers may soon have to follow suit in allowing their employees some relaxation time, says Edmund Pooh of Universal Employment Agency. "It will be difficult for them to attract good workers if they don't."
Yes, we're happy
Mr Edmund Pooh, 27, the director of Universal Employment Agency, said the "playing field is not level", which is why maids would rather say they are happy and not speak up about the conditions they face.
He spoke of how the relationship between an employer and a maid was different from a romantic relationship.
"In a boy-girl relationship, everything is equal. Both parties can choose to break off. But the relationship between an employer and a maid is different," he said.
"The employer can choose to give up the maid any time. The maid, on the other hand, needs to get the consent of her employer before getting a transfer (to work in another household).
SO WHO is responsible for the maid in a situation such as Mrs Ng's?
Unfortunately, no, said Mr Edmund Pooh, in his 20s, the manager of Universal Employment Agency.
He said he understood Mrs Ng's rationale for keeping the maid here. But she will have to continue supporting
the maid because she is still the employer's responsibility.
After all, he added, "the maid is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law".
'Not unusual' for maids to fake their age
Solve these 12 common maid problems for a happier relationship with your helper
Edmund Pooh, managing director of Universal Employment Agency Daniel Koh, psychologist from Insights Mind Centre Ho Shee Wai, psychologist, and director of The Counselling Place
Helper Hitch #1
She has difficulty settling into your household and can’t get along with some family members. Your helper may be having trouble assimilating into a new culture. So make sure her basic needs are met – that she has a clean and comfortable room, and enough food, since she may not be used to the kind of food your family eats.
She may also be missing her loved ones back home, so if you sense that she feels unsettled, have a chat with her – assure her that you care about her and that she’s part of the family. Remind her that her sacrifices are worth it, and let her speak to her immediate family regularly so she feels connected to them.
Getting along with everyone at home may be trickier. With different personalities and expectations, it’s not unusual for tensions to arise. Get your helper’s perspective on the situation, then suggest ways to deal with it, either by getting her to adjust her attitude or to understand what others in the family are like.
Next, have a talk with the family member who’s not getting along with your helper. Emphasise the importance of harmony and compromise since you’re all living under the same roof.
Happy helper, happy home
Edmund Pooh, managing director of Universal Employment Agency Daniel Koh, psychologist from Insights Mind Centre
Helper Hitch #2
She spends too much time on her chores and doesn’t work effectively. This could be due to differing expectations: your maid may think she’s doing her best, but you think otherwise because you can do it faster or your last helper was more productive. You shouldn’t compare your current helper to your previous one – it will only breed resentment and cause her to feel inadequate. Instead, go through her daily routine with her and find out how she does her chores. Tell her how she can do things more efficiently. Never give her more than she can do. Start with a few simple tasks and build them up when you’re confident that she can manage. Don’t forget to praise her when she’s done something well. This will increase her confidence, and in turn, enhance her work performance.
Helper Hitch #3
Your helper looks after your children and your elderly parents, on top of doing the household chores. She may take her frustration out on the kids or your folks, or not make them a priority. If she has been slack in taking care of the kids or helping your parents at home, understand that her behaviour is likely due to the frustration she feels about her daily routine – she might be overwhelmed and stressed. Talk to her and see where you can make things more manageable for her. If she takes it out on your family verbally or physically, bring in the agency to help resolve the issue. Abuse of any kind should not be tolerated. If the problem can’t be resolved and she returns to her old ways, consider getting a new helper.
Trusted by more than 10,000 customers since 1986
Universal Employment Agency Pte Ltd is leading professional consultancy that specialises in the placement of foreign domestic helpers mainly from Philippines and Indonesia.
Since 1986, we have been providing unmatched expertise in working with employers and foreign domestic helpers to facilitate a successful match. Our experience over the years plays a part in ensuring a high success rate of matching employers with foreign domestic helpers.
Each year, an increasing number of employers and foreign domestic helpers engage Universal Employment Agency Pte Ltd through personal referral. This is a testament to the high level of professionalism and service that has established us as a market leader in the placement of foreign domestic helpers.
Placement of Transfer Maids in Singapore
Placement of First-Timer Maids
Placement of Ex-Singapore Maids
Placement of Ex-Abroad Maids
Maids for Newborn and Infant Care
Maids for Children Care
Maids (Experienced Caregivers) for Elderly Care
Maids for Housework and Cooking
Direct Hire of Maids in Singapore
Direct Hire of Maids not in Singapore
Application of Maid (FDW) Work Permit
Renewal of Maid (FDW) Work Permit
Comprehensive Insurance Coverage for Maids in Singapore
Medical Check-up for Maids in Singapore
Passport Renewal for Filipino Maids
Home Leave Application for Filipino Maids
Maid Repatriation Service
FAQs Frequently Asked Questions
A new maid typically refers to an inexperienced maid, working in Singapore for the first time. A new maid will be more willing to work with no or 1 day off and will be able to accept a lower salary.
A transfer maid is someone who is currently working in Singapore. A transfer maid is the preferred choice for most employers if they are able to offer at least 2 days off and a higher salary, as they are able to interview a transfer maid in person, giving them a better judgment call to choose the right maid for their family.
Written consent must be given. You must continue to pay the levy up to the day before the new Work Permit is issued. If the FDW medical was done five months ago, as her employer still, you are responsible to send the FDW for her 6-Monthly Medical Examination if required.
In the event that the FDW's transfer is unsuccessful and the Work Permit is cancelled or expires, the current employer must repatriate the worker within seven days from the date of the Work Permit cancellation/expiry.
The worker is only allowed to start work with the new employer after the Work Permit has been issued in the new employer's name and any outstanding salary should be paid on the day you release her.
For the purpose of transfer, you will not need to pay anything to the maid agency unless you require the agency to provide food and accommodation for the interim. However, do note that the salary of the FDW is to be paid even though she may no longer be performing any work for you while staying with the agency.
The maid's levy is either $265 (normal) or $60 (concession) and to be paid by the employer at the end of each month via GIRO. The maid Work Permit will be cancelled if you fail to maintain a valid GIRO account.
The levy for each month is payable by the employer at the end of each month. The payment due date is the 14th (for manual payment) or 17th (for GIRO payment) of the following month. If the 17th is a non-working day, the deduction will be made on the next working day.
You can apply for a levy concession for up to two Maids if you satisfy any of the following conditions:
i.The employer or spouse has a child who is a Singapore citizen and below 12 years old living with him/her
ii.The employer or spouse has a grandchild who is a Singapore citizen and below 12 years old living with him/her.
i.The employer or co-residing spouse is a Singapore Citizen aged 65 years or above
ii.The employer or spouse is a Singapore Citizen and the other party is a Singapore Permanent Resident aged 65 years or above, both of whom live at the same registered address as in the NRIC.
i.The employer or spouse has a parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandparent-in-law who is a Singapore Citizen aged 65 years or above, living with them at the same registered address as in the NRIC
ii.The employer or spouse is a Singapore Citizen and has a parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandparent-in-law who is a Singapore Permanent Resident aged 65 years or above, living with them at the same registered address as in the NRIC.
Employers with disabilities or who have family members with disabilities and require a full-time caregiver assistance in daily activities (washing/bathing, feeding, going to the toilet, dressing and mobility).
For more information about levy, click here.
Step 1: Submission of Application
We can only proceed with this step once all required documents has been handed over to us.
Step 2: Assessment and Approval
It takes up to seven days to process a Work Permit application.
Note: If the Work Permit application is rejected, we will then proceed with Step 3.
Step 3: Appeal
It takes up to 14 days for the Appeal to be accepted and Work Permit application to be approved.
With more than 31 years of experience, Universal Employment Agency Pte Ltd is confident in finding you the right maid for your family!
We are able to assist your family to find a suitable maid because of our wide network and esteemed reputation built up over the many years. We are able to source for experienced Filipino & Indonesian Maids who have finished their contract(s) and able to transfer anytime.
Extensive background checks and interviews will always be conducted before we present to you potential candidates for your consideration.
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) does not stipulate a minimum wage and would prefer market force to determine the salary. A good guide will be to refer to the Average Maid Salary on our homepage.
If your family nucleus consists of 2 children under 18 or 1 child under 18 and 1 elderly above 65, you should be able to qualify for an additional maid. Your combined annual income should at least be SG$50,000 and above.
The hard truth is yes. As an employer, even if your maid has only worked for you for a day, the fact is you are her employer and the Ministry of Manpower takes this very seriously should any complaint be made against you for forcing your maid the pay for her air ticket back to her country of origin.