Have you ever come home to a dirty house after a long day of work and commute? Dirty dishes sitting in the sink, smudges on windows and food splattered all over the microwave. You can’t even enjoy watching TV in the living room—your children’s toys are everywhere, taking territory almost by force.
And with only a few hours left before you tuck yourself into bed, keeping up with the housework late at night feels impossible. You’d rather get some rest, right?
When you’re waist-deep in responsibilities, your list of household chores keeps getting longer by the minute. This is why a lot of families in Singapore consider hiring a domestic worker or cleaning services to lighten the load. For most homeowners, this can be a lifesaver.
However, if this is your first time, it can feel a bit overwhelming. You have to know the laws, cultural nuances and the total cost that comes with hiring a maid. Where do you even start? How can you make sure you’re hiring the right domestic helper that matches your needs?
To get started, let’s discuss the things to look out for when hiring a maid, red flags to avoid and how to do an interview. Read on to learn more!
Things To Look Out For When Hiring a Maid: Tips to Consider
We understand that you might be on the fence about maids. You’ve heard it everywhere: on the radio, in the newspaper, in the evening news and on your social media feed. There have been reports of strained relationships between domestic helpers and homeowners, which may raise concerns on your end.
These horror stories happen, but they don’t have to happen to you. There are many successful maid stories and well-established relationships that often go unheard.
Before allowing a stranger into your home who will look after your children and property, here are the things you to look out for when hiring a maid:
Learn What Fully Bonded and Insured Means
When you search for cleaning services online to find a maid, you might see the phrase ‘fully bonded and insured’. But what does it mean? How can this phrase help you make an informed decision when hiring an extra pair of hands?
What Bonded Means
If a home cleaning service or an independent cleaner fails to fulfil its contract, doesn’t complete the promised tasks or gets involved in theft within your home, having a bond gives you the right to collect money. You get the privilege to file a claim against the service you hired.
The bond company retains the money secured from the cleaning company and will investigate to determine whether you’re entitled to compensation.
But if you happen to hire a maid who’s not bonded, you don’t have a claims process to address issues that might happen. They can even ignore your refund request or pay for stolen items.
What Insured Means
Hiring an insured maid gives you an additional layer of financial security. It covers damages, health issues and injuries that may happen during house cleaning. For instance, if the maid falls on your property and sustains an injury, neither of you has to pay out of pocket. The insurance will cover the medical expenses.
If you hire someone without insurance, the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. You will be held liable, paying for any lost wages of the injured party.
That’s why we highly recommend that you ask your maid applicants if they’re bonded and insured. Usually, independent cleaners who aren’t will offer you a cheaper service fee. While this might sound ideal for your budget, you will have to deal with anything that goes wrong on the job on your own.
This means that you will pay a much higher price in the long run.
Before you hire a full-time or part-time maid, you have to know the costs involved—from living expenses to taxes and salary scales. The pricing and services will vary, depending on whether you engage with a maid agency or hire a domestic worker from overseas.
Let’s discuss the factors in detail:
If you opt to hire a domestic worker from overseas, the maid’s salary will depend on their nationality. Here’s a market rate for helpers’ salaries depending on their country of origin according to The Smart Local:
|Country of Origin
|Minimum Wage Established by the Embassy
|Average Monthly Salary
If you choose a maid agency in Singapore, you’re essentially paying for their extensive network and expertise. Keep in mind that they’re likely pricey since they include a wide range of services like screening helpers, matching you with the right maid who meets your needs and work permit application fees.
They also cover costs like insurance, airfare and accommodation.
But what makes maid agencies convenient is that they can help you make the right choice, especially if it’s your first time hiring a domestic worker. The rate, however, typically falls within the range of S$1,000 to S$3,000.
If this pricing is out of your budget, you can try direct hiring instead. You may recruit a maid through referrals or matching platforms with lower fees compared to traditional maid companies.
Hiring a maid means you’re responsible for their living expenses. You’ll add one more adult to your household, increasing your overall utility costs in the process. As their employer, you’re also obliged to allocate a vacant room for them to give them enough privacy and space.
Moreover, make sure that your domestic helper is provided with meals of the same standard as the rest of your household. The budget you set aside for what they eat should be similar to what you spend on each person living in your home.
Don’t forget to factor in expenses for public transportation and mobile phone credits. This is especially important if you expect them to do grocery shopping and fetch your children to and from school.
FDW Levy Concessions
Aside from your helper’s salary and living expenses, you should also pay a monthly maid levy to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). As of writing, the maid levy in Singapore is S$300 per month for the first migrant helper. For subsequent helpers, the monthly rate is S$450.
If you qualify for a concessionary levy, the rate will be reduced to S$60. This will only apply to you if you live with:
- A young child below 16 years old
- An elderly family member who is at least 67 years old
- A person with disabilities – The PWD should obtain a certificate from a Singapore-registered doctor confirming they require assistance with at least one daily living activity (ADL). These activities may include tasks like getting dressed, using the toilet or eating.
Know The Type of Cleaning Service You Want
One of the things to look out for when hiring a maid is the type of cleaning service you need. Do you want your house thoroughly cleaned via move-in/out cleaning? Or do you need a maid to help with regular home cleaning on a regular basis?
Knowing which type of cleaning needs to be done will help you determine if you’re better off hiring a full-time or a part-time maid. This will also determine the helper’s job scope.
You should be clear about what you expect from them to make sure you’re on the same page. For clearer communication, provide them with a document detailing job expectations like cleaning services, cooking meals or looking after elderly family members, among other things.
Good Maid Characteristics
According to MOM, Singapore has approximately 268,500 migrant domestic workers, making up almost a fifth of the foreign workforce. With this staggering number of house cleaners, it won’t be difficult to find a maid when you need one.
But finding someone reliable to keep everything in place while you tend to your 9 to 5 job isn’t a walk in the park. You can’t just hire the first helper that appears on your Google search. That’s why you should always look out for the characteristics of a good maid, which include:
The maid you’ll hire should be great at paying attention to details, no matter how small. For instance, when you’re doing a post-cleaning inspection, their meticulous approach to cleaning should be evident. You don’t want to pay for a cleaning service only to find out they forgot to clean your glass windows or mop the floor.
To test how detail-oriented they are, try giving them a list of household tasks with specific instructions. Here’s an example:
- When making coffee in the morning, use a big pot and two tablespoons of sugar.
- Sort clothes by colour and fabric type. Don’t forget to follow garment care labels for washing and drying instructions.
- Make sure the lids of medication bottles are tightly closed and out of direct sunlight.
This is by far the most apparent characteristic you should look out for when hiring a maid. Remember that finishing housework is never easy, and having a lazy maid won’t get anything done.
She should be able to do physical labour for hours without complaining and grumbling. When you have a hardworking maid, they will go out of their way to accomplish what needs to be done within a specific timeframe.
Desire to Learn and Improve
When your maid arrives, they have to learn everything all at once. They must adapt to a different lifestyle, adhere to new cultural norms and exist around a new language. They would also need to interact with the family, take care of the kids and learn their routine like the back of their hand.
With a long list of things to know, your maid should be willing to acquire new skills the moment they set foot in your home. Are they continuously trying to learn about the culture of Singapore? Are they even willing to learn the language spoken in your home if given the chance?
One of the most important things to look out for when hiring a maid is their work history and record. This is especially true when you’re hiring an independent maid, helping you avoid huge problems down the line.
This isn’t to say that domestic helpers are criminals, but the rising number of criminal cases where maids are involved can be alarming. It’s the standard hiring process, something you should never miss for safety reasons.
Before you collect personal information, make sure you ask for the applicant’s consent first. Take a closer look at this step-by-step guide on doing background checks:
Step 1: Check Their Employment History on the MOM Website
If you’re hiring a foreign domestic worker, you can get their basic details on the MOM website. During office hours, log in using your Singpass details and click on the ‘Enquire’ tab on the left corner of the page.
When you find the ‘Foreign Worker/Foreign Domestic Worker Employment History’, enter their work permit number, foreign identification number or personal information like name and nationality.
Once done, you should be able to view the domestic worker’s employment history.
Step 2: Reach Out To Previous Employers
To hear more about your maid candidates, ask for references from their previous employers. Contacting these references can give valuable insight into her work ethic, reliability and issues that might have happened during her employment.
Prepare a list of questions; make sure you’re asking the right ones. This is your chance to find out about your maid applicant’s strengths, weaknesses, behaviour and more.
Were they great at taking care of kids and the elderly? What was their strategy to keep the children entertained during the weekends? Were they skilled in cooking? Did they prepare meals that the family enjoyed? Did she follow recipes, and if so, did she adapt them well?
How to Choose The Right Maid Agency in Singapore
You might take the professional maid services route if this is your first time hiring a domestic worker. To help you choose the best maid agency in Singapore that matches your requirements, here are the most important factors to consider:
Transparency in Policies and Pricing
One of the signs of a reputable maid agency is when they openly communicate their terms of service, policies and pricing framework. You should also inquire about hidden fees or additional expenses that may arise down the road.
Services and Specialisations
When assessing maid agencies, always consider the array of services and expertise they offer. You may find that some agencies only offer home cleaning services, while others also include elderly care in their scope. This includes medication support, assisted showering and simple activities for seniors.
Make sure that the agency you choose aligns with your needs.
We’re at the peak of the digital era. It’s much easier to trust a maid agency with an established online presence, whether it’s a website, an Instagram account or a Facebook page.
Sometimes, a quick glance at the homepage can provide a sense of the agency’s reliability and reputation. If their website is well-maintained and updated, it’s a sign that they take their business seriously.
You can find the most important information on their homepage such as their physical address, business hours, contact details and more. Some agencies also post reviews and testimonials from previous clients, guiding you in assessing the agency’s history.
If you’d never trust a random doctor you found online to look after your health and well-being, then you shouldn’t have faith in just any maid you spotted in the newspaper job ads. As a homeowner, you hold the responsibility of ensuring that whoever you hire is trustworthy and has a solid reputation.
In a way, your maid will act as your household manager, especially when you’re not around. They have to be familiar with the living arrangements, house rules and the duties you need them to perform.
But at the same time, your maid is your responsibility too. Aside from paying their monthly salary and taxes, you have to make sure they are well-fed, safe and given the respect they deserve.
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango.
Most importantly, you can always take the easy route with Helpling—a reputable maid agency and cleaning service in Singapore. Our team of maids boast over 200 hours of extensive hotel training and elderly care expertise. They can assist seniors in doing ADLs like showering, dressing and toileting while attending to housekeeping.
We are committed to finding you the right match. If you’re ready to take the next step, speak to a care consultant today to know your options. You can also book appointments instantly through our SuperApp—available on Google Play and App Store.
What qualifications and skills should I look out for when hiring a maid?
When hiring a maid, you should look for qualifications such as experience, relevant skills (e.g., elderly care, childcare, cooking) and a great work ethic. Communication skills should also be considered.
What is the main difference between hiring a live-in maid and a part-time maid?
Live-in or permanent maids typically live in your home, providing round-the-clock services. Meanwhile, part-time maids only work for specific hours and follow a limited scope of work. It’s best to consider your needs and preferences when choosing between the two options.
What red flags should I look out for when hiring a domestic worker?
Some of the red flags you should look out for when hiring a maid include:
- Vague answers during the interview
- Inconsistent information
- Reluctance to provide references and employment history
- Lack of training and experience
- Negative attitude indications
- Poor communication and language skills