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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, Indonesia and Myanmar. We are also experts when it comes to hiring of transfer maids or simply assisting employers with direct hiring of a maid they already know.
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 for over 30 years. Therefore, that makes us one of the best maid agency in Singapore that specialises in the placement of maids.
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 14 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 16 years old living with him/her
ii.The employer or spouse has a grandchild who is a Singapore citizen and below 16 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.
As long as you are a working adult who is a Singapore Citizen or a Singapore PR or a foreigner with valid employment pass, you may hire a maid.
If you do not have any income, you will be required to show proof of a minimum sum of SG$50,000 fixed deposit before submitting the work permit application for the maid.
The main difference is cost advantage. A live-in maid is basically working for your family as a full-time maid. Her duties may not only be housework, as most cases it will involve cooking and even taking care of your children or elderly.
A part-time cleaner is a local who will come to your house for a fixed number of hours on a weekly basis depending on your arrangement with her. Her duties are only housework. The part-time cleaner rate usually starts from $12/hour up to $25/hour.
If you do the sums, it can be quite costly to hire a part-time cleaner if you increase the frequency and the number of hours required of her.
Besides cost, trust is the utmost importance when entrusting your precious baby to someone to look after while you are at work. We will usually advise to look for a babysitter first and more importantly, she has to be a trusted recommendation.
If that fails, then consider hiring a maid but at the start, please ensure you have you mother or yourself to supervise the maid until trust and confidence has been firmly established.
Remember, the maid most likely has to juggle a few roles, such as housework and cooking, so do be patient with her during the early stage.
Direct hiring basically means finding your own maid or rehiring your previous maid and bringing her to a licensed maid agency like us, to submit the Work Permit Application on your behalf to the Ministry of Manpower.
When you direct hire a maid, the only fee you will save is the Agency Fee. But do not direct hire for the sake of direct hiring to save some money. Usually, when an employer comes to us to engage our services for direct hiring, the first question we will ask is, how well do you know this domestic helper.
If the employer barely knows the domestic helper, we will advise the employer to rethink because she won't be screened by us as it is a direct hire and if she doesn't work out, there will be no replacement as this is a direct hire case.
Yes we do, but please give us at least 3 working days notice to make arrangement for this service. Do bear in mind that, we are not responsible if your maid do not board the plane for whatever reason. We have no control over such a scenario. Our job is to make sure your maid checks-in at the Airport on time, and once that is done, our job is considered complete.
We are just a phone call away should you have any questions regarding your maid. If things are not working out with your maid, we will provide free maid-counselling service at our office if needed and if that still doesn't work, we will provide a timely replacement depending on the terms of the service agreement.
Besides Counselling Service for your maid, we also provide services like Home Leave Processing, Work Permit Renewal, Passport Renewal and Maid Repatriation Service.
A simple answer is supply and demand. Filipino Maids and Indonesian Maids are definitely the more popular choice for most employers of maids in Singapore. Usually, it's mainly because of language. Out of the 3 Nationality, Filipino Maids speak and understand English Language the best. Indonesian Maids can speak little or fair English and at least they can communicate in Bahasa Indonesia which is similar to the Malay language unlike Maids from Myanmar.
Yes we do but they are in short supply. The experienced caregivers are usually from the Philippines who were not able to complete their nursing course due to lack of money. Hence they are seeking employment in Singapore but mainly performing caregiver's services to the elderly and will not be doing housework and cooking for the entire family except for the elderly whom she is caring for. Salary wise will come at a premium for their expertise but they are definitely the cheapest available option comparing to a nurse or an elderly home which is in short supply any way.
Yes we certainly can. This is a procedure referred to as Direct Hiring in our industry and we only perform the documentation / paperwork in assisting you to obtain the Work Permit for your maid.
While we cannot guarantee an approval by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) but what we can guarantee is that as long as you fulfil the criteria to hire a maid and even if you do get rejected, we will use our expertise to submit an appeal to MOM to obtain a favourable outcome at no additional charge.
Sure! So far, we have a 100% success rate to help employers direct hire their previous Indonesian maids back to Singapore. As long as she has no adverse records with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and you fulfil the criteria by MOM to hire her as an additional maid.
If it isn't a direct hire, then yes we do offer a replacement in case the domestic helper isn't a good match. Selecting the replacement helper is subject to your confirmation after you have interviewed and assessed her suitability.
Yes we do. We will use our more than 30 years of experience to recommend the most suitable domestic helper based on your requirements at that point of time.
Different household has different needs and different point of time has different domestic helpers available.
While we do make recommendations, the ultimate decision still lies with you and we will simply advise you after you have interviewed the domestic helpers presented to you for your consideration.
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.
Yes and we are proud to say that we are accredited with not only the Philippine Embassy in Singapore but also with the Associated of Employment Agencies Singapore (AEAS) for many years already.
Yes we are a licensed maid agency with the Ministry of Manpower, for over 30 years and counting. We have served 3 generations and definitely look forward to serving more generations to come.
Yes, they are the same person. More commonly referred to as Maids in Singapore. Although maids isn't the best way to describe our wonderful domestic helpers, our preference is to refer to them as helpers but the Ministry of Manpower refers to them as Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW).
Most definitely. In fact, not many agencies in Singapore cater to this niche market but we are able to do so as a result of our extensive network built up by virtue of trust and word of mouth to spread the Universal brand name to the foreign domestic helpers in Singapore.
We have successfully placed out many experienced transfer helpers to both local and expatriate families in Singapore for many years. If you need an experienced domestic helper urgently, then choosing a domestic helper on transfer is probably the fastest option you have. Speak to us today!
We wouldn't want to agree or disagree but we would rather let our more than 30 years of track record do the talking.
While we can never guarantee the best maid, what we can guarantee is our professionalism and service to serve you and to find you the right maid based on your requirements. Every family has different requirements and every maid is different too.
However, what makes us different from other maid agencies is our ability to understand both our customers' needs, the employer and the maid to ensure a successful match.
The reason is simple, the maid is paying the bulk of your agency fee for you. If you bother to ask the agency how much the poor maid is paying, then you will understand.
To some, it seems alright since it is the maid paying and paying a higher agency fee doesn't guarantee the perfect maid / bestmaid, but ask yourself this, when the maid is burdened with so much "loan" and her family is waiting for her to send back some money, do you think the maid will be in her best condition to serve your family wholeheartedly?
Ideally, it should always be the employer to pay the whole sum as we are sure no one likes having to "pay" for a job, would you?
The first thing to do is to give us a call @ 6735 3456 and provide us with your detailed requirements. Same time, you should complete your Employer's Orientation Programme (EOP) which is a mandatory training programme for all first-time employers who wish to employ a foreign domestic worker (FDW).
To sign up, you should have your SingPass ready and the fee for Online E-Learning is S$46, payable with your Visa/Master cards or Internet Banking. It will take you no more than 2 hours usually to complete the course online and once that is done, please print out a copy of your EOP Certificate and give it to us.
Yes you may but bear in mind that the cost to bring in a maid from overseas versus a transfer maid in Singapore is totally different. We will advise you accordingly then.
Our company's policy is strictly no. For safety reasons and also for the lack of time. If the transfer maid travels all the way to your home and back to our office, she only has 1 interview. But if the interview is done at our office, she may have 3 interviews, thus increasing her chances of getting a confirmed employer faster. Most transfer maids actually have limited time and they can't afford to lose precious time.
This is a pretty grey area but our understanding from the Ministry of Manpower is that your Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) should always reside and perform work only at your residence.
In this case, as long as the FDW does minimal housework and do not have to do housework again at your residence on the same day, then it should be fine. This is also provided your kids are at your MIL house.
It cannot be a situation whereby you simply instruct your FDW to go do some minimal housework at your MIL house and your kids are not there.
The maid agency fee is for our service of location, identification and introduction of suitable maids for your consideration.
Our maid agency fee also includes a replacement guarantee in case the current maid isn't a good fit.
After sales service such as maid counselling if the maid is homesick or couldn't adjust to your household, this is especially so for new maids who have never worked in Singapore before.
Most times, our maids are experienced transfer maids or experienced maids who have worked in Singapore before. We call them Ex-Singapore Maids.