We've put together the ultimate guide on everything you need about hiring a FDW in Singapore…
Hiring a helper in Singapore can be an absolute blessing when it comes to juggling our careers, kids, running a household and trying to keep up with the life admin. Extra time with the kids instead of drowning in a sea of laundry? Yes please! But how do you go about finding the perfect extra pair of hands? We’ve come to the rescue with our guide to what steps you need to take to employ a helper, tips on how to find the right lady for the job, and some all-important interview questions…
Employer requirements for hiring a helper
Before you go about employing your first FDW, you need to check the current criteria as stated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). In a nutshell, you’ll need to be:
- At least 21 years old
- Have no undischarged bankrupt proceedings against you
- Have the mental capacity to fully understand and discharge your responsibility as an employer.
If you’re hiring a helper for the first time, you must also attend an Employer Orientation Programme. This is an easy-peasy online ‘exam’ to check that you know to treat your helper like a fellow human being.
The paperwork needed for hiring a helper
If you use an employment agency to process the paperwork necessary to legally employ a helper, they’ll handle all the paperwork on your behalf. Phew. However, hiring directly is also an option, and often saves you some money in the process. Once you’ve agreed on the working terms with your new helper (days off, work expectations, pay, etc), you’ll need to sort out the following:
- Apply for her work permit from MOM. This can be done online (you’ll need SingPass). It costs $35 for the application and another $35 for the issuance.
- Buy a $5,000 security bond (you can buy from any bank or insurance company). Once purchased, this will be registered automatically with MOM. Also, purchase personal accident of at least $60,000 per year and medical insurance of at least $15,000 per year. The more cover you can afford, the better – as an employer, you are liable for any medical expenses. The bond and the insurance are often sold as one package. Expect to part with around $300+ for two years’ cover.
- Once your FDW has arrived, you’ll need to send her for a medical exam within 14 days of her employment with you. MOM will send you a letter, which your helper will take along with her to any GP for her check-up.
- Set up your monthly GIRO to cover your helper’s monthly levy. Current charges are $60 concessionary rate (for local Singaporeans with either a child, elderly person, or person with disabilities living in your household), or $300 for everyone else.
- If your domestic helper does not have a bank account then it is a good idea to set one up and arrange her salary by monthly transfer.
Hiring a helper: interview questions to ask
1. Transfer and work history: If she is leaving a contract early, find out why. Even if she is transferring from a completed contract, it pays to check her reasons for moving on. Investigate thoroughly and don’t always believe what you are being told in terms of backstory – always check for yourself via references.
2. Personal situation: Find out as much as you can. Marital status, for instance, may have some bearing on her interactions, while other details may affect her capabilities as an employee. Asking personal questions can feel a little intrusive but it will help you in the long run!
3. Religion: Often helpers from Indonesia are Muslim, and as such are unable to handle or eat pork or interact with the family pets. Equally, many helpers do not live by strict religious codes, but you should still check what personal boundaries she may have when it comes to what she can and can’t do/eat/touch because of religious or personal restrictions.
4. Her future plans: It’s likely your FDW is working here to help out family back home, and probably intends to return one day to her home country. Her plans may have relevance to how long she stays with you, but also by knowing her aspirations you can help support her towards her goals. We love a woman with a plan!
5. Children: If childcare is something your helper will be involved in, you need to make sure she likes small people! If your potential FDW is a fan of kids then check what kind of playmate and carer she might be to your children. Has she had experience with babies? Or the equally challenging teens? Find out what games she likes to play, what nursery rhymes she knows, and what are the typical kind of meals she would prepare for your child would be. Which also leads us to…
6. First aid: With young kids in the house, it’s essential your potential helper knows some basic first aid. Check whether she has taken any first aid courses, and if not would she be happy to go on one? Give her simple first aid scenarios to respond to (we asked a helper what she would do if our toddler bumped his head and she said she would make him a sandwich: we didn’t hire her).
7. Her daily routine: Engage her in a chat on how she spends a typical day in her current job. Suggest some tasks she would be expected to do within your household and get her to rank them. If you are looking for a Nigella in the kitchen, but she’d rather stick to the ironing, the fit isn’t going to be great for either of you.
8. Cooking: Check her culinary skills and ask her to name 10 meals she is confident in cooking. If she really does know how to cook, this will be easy for her. If cooking isn’t her bag, then you can decide how important her kitchen skills are in the grand scheme of things.
9. Pets: If you have furry (or slithery) creatures in your home (the kids don’t count) then check whether she has cared for pets before. Also, make sure she is happy to hang out with your fur kids.
10. Days off: Ask her if she has any hobbies and what she enjoys doing when she is not working. Her answers will give a really good clue as to her character.
11. Marketing (aka grocery shopping): How does she feel about doing the marketing and which supermarkets in Singapore is she familiar with? Is she used to budgeting and making grocery decisions by herself?
12. Food: What does she like to eat? Does she prefer her own food, or will she be happy to eat whatever you guys are eating? Does she expect a food allowance? Is she allergic to any food? Are there foods she is unwilling to handle? Food can be a huge minefield if you end up with a helper who only eats meat while your family is strictly vegetarian!
13. Drinking/smoking: Encourage honesty and ask her if she drinks alcohol and/or smokes. You may have strong views, and if she does partake in the odd beer and like a cigarette with her friends on a Sunday, this may not be a deal-breaker for you. However, if she lies about it then that can cause issues later down the line.
Our tips for finding The One
As a team of working mums, we here at HoneyKids’ HQ are all blessed with amazing right-hand women who help the juggle of life that bit easier. Our tips for finding a good ‘un?
- Have your kids nearby. The domestic helpers who try and make a connection with your child are the ones to put at the top of your hire list.
- DON’T listen to all the horror stories when hiring a helper in Singapore. For the all the ‘my maid tried on my bikini’ stories, there are many, many successful relationships.
- Keep your ear to the ground for recommendations. The Facebook online groups often have details of fabulous helpers looking for new employment.
Good luck with your search!