For a busy society like Singapore, having food on the table, house cleaned, children/elders taken care of; after a long day of work is very much appreciated in almost every household. Which is why hiring a maid has increasingly becoming a norm for many families where both parents will work to earn income. With this, numbers of maids in Singapore has significantly increase over the years. From roughly 200,000 in 2012 to about 250,000 in 2018, 20% increase in population of domestic workers in just 6 years.
This spark in demand for domestic workers, also widens the market for maid agencies as well. To date, there are more than 600 active Maid Agencies that is licensed by Ministry of Manpower. Most maids in Singapore come from Indonesia and the Philippines, though some also come from Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. However, that’s not all, Ministry of Manpower also approves work permits for maids from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Macau, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan.
Besides filing paperwork for the employers and matching employers with their suitable maid, maid agencies actually does more than that. For instances, they need to
Maid Agencies need to recruit their maid overseas via direct recruitment or through an overseas agency, not only maids need to of approved nationality, minimum age of 23 years old and went through at least 8 years of formal education to be eligible. Thus, some agencies specialise in providing for example Filipino maids only, because Filipino maid is relatively popular among families, this can save the agency time in recruitment and effort to find a placement for the maids.
Some maids may lie about their personal particulars to the Maid Agencies so that they can be recruited to Singapore to work. However Ministry of Manpower has made it clear that agencies is required to have a detail check of the maid’s background, ensuring the information provided is accurate, satisfying MOM’s Rules and Regulations before bringing them to Singapore.
Transfer maid’s employment history must be provided to the new employers. Details of employment history must be clear, up to date and truthful. This is to prevent any fights or arguments between employer and maid as the maid’s undesirable traits (lazy, foulmouthed or bad attitude) is not stated and only discovered later.
When maid arrives in Singapore, agencies is required to provide transportation to fetch them from the airport.
For first-time maids that arrive in Singapore, they are required to attend SIP before they are allowed to start work. SIP is a 1-day orientation programme to educate them on safety precautions and living in Singapore.
For more information: https://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/work-permit-for-foreign-domestic-worker/eligibility-and-requirements/settling-in-programme-sip
For some first-time maids, they may be unfamiliar with certain house chores, or unsure on how to use certain household equipment for cleaning, etc. Maid agencies will provide some basic training for them, allowing them to familiarise with cleaning procedures/usage of equipment that increases productivity of doing chores.
Furthermore, for maids not fluent in English, simple and commonly used words and phrase is being taught so that the maid can better understand their employer’s demands.
Agencies will match the employer with a maid that best suit the employer’s requirements and expectations.
Good Customer Service; answering questions, suggesting information and details about their services/maids.
Provide accurate, valid and complete information of their cost, services and maids.
Interviews: agencies should set up interview opportunity for employers with the potential maid, allow employer and potential maid to communicate and voice out any concerns or clarify any doubts.
Agency fees varies across different agencies, here is a rough guideline regarding maid agency cost.
*Rough guideline for agency fees, actually fees may vary with different agencies.
The varying cost across different agencies can be largely due to the market being free and unrestricted thus, difference in service coverage, training programme and size & reputation of the agency can attribute to the difference in pricing.
Why does some agencies have very low agency fees? Some even claims that it has zero agency fees. Well this is likely due to the agency’s service coverage. For some agency that have relatively cheap fees, keep in mind that they have to make up for this somehow. For example, employers may need to purchase the air ticket for the maid to travel to Singapore or agency may implement high placement fees on the maid.
Agencies with considerable high agency fees can be due because they cover many aspects in their service, such as; free replacement for the first 1 or 2 maids, responsive to employer’s feedbacks and takes action to resolve.
Trainings provided by each different agency may also vary. For those that charge high agency fees, it is more likely that their maids have undergo a more in-depth training course as compared to agencies that charges relatively low. Such training courses may be Basic English, introduction to some household equipment and safety precautions.
For larger and the more reputable agencies, they tend to charge higher for their services as it is proven to be customer satisfactory in most cases. Examples such as agencies that have awards for service excellences, CaseTrust Accreditation or consumer recognition can charge higher for its services because they know consumers have more confidence to engage in their services.
Now the question comes, where to start? Given that there is a lot of maid agencies out there, it is tough selecting one that fits your requirements and being reliable at the same time. Fear not as we will provide some pointers to look out for when you review a maid agency.
Understanding your household requirements can help you find the ideal maid much easier. If your family is largely English speaking, consider a Filipino maid as she is more fluent, if your family is Muslim, consider an Indonesian maid as she shares similar religious beliefs and diet. Some maid agencies may specialise in providing maids from a specific country, understanding what your family needs can great help you to find the ideal maid.
Tip: What do you want the maid to focus on? Child care/ household chores/taking care of elderlies.
Demerit Points may be issued if maid agency breach the Employment Agencies Act, Employment Agencies Rules or Employment Agencies License Condition.
Tip: Choose agencies with the least demerit points as this indicates that the agency follows rules and regulation thus, being more reliable as compared to the others.
Percentage of domestic workers placed by the agency, which stayed with the same employer for at least 365 days.
Tip: Agencies with high retention success rate is considered more desirable as this shows that agency is able to match employers with a suitable maid.
Percentage of maid, within the last 12 months, being transferred to 3 or more employers.
Tip: A low transfer rate is more advisable as this indicates if the maids from that particular agency is well trained, well-behaved and good working attitude.
In any event where a replacement of maid is required, will the agency provide free replacement or requires a small fee. It is advisable that employers check the replacement policy is clearly stated in the service agreement before engaging in the agency’s services.
Tip: Care to go for agencies that provides free replacement for the first few times, but do note that Ministry of Manpower may make it difficult for you to apply for work permit if you change maid too frequently.
Any awards for service excellence is beneficial for any maid agency. For example, Maid Agencies with CaseTrust Accreditation are considered more desirable because it signifies fairness and honesty in its dealings with consumers.
Tip: For CaseTrust Accreditation businesses, it can be checked on their website. For more information: https://app.case.org.sg/casetrust.plx?rm=results
Google search the company name, looking at the company ratings (out of 5 star) and company reviews. This can give you a rough idea about other customer’s experience with this particular maid agency which you can decide if it is suitable for you.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, can also provide reviews/recommendations of a particular maid agency that you are looking at.
Tip: Read through the bad reviews also! They service as an important reference to look out for and pointers to take note about the agency.
Before you engage with the maid agency’s services, they will require you to sign a service agreement with them. Note that a good service agreement should have the following:
a. Validity period clearly stated
b. Details of the cost on what is spent on
c. Refund policy clearly stated - Under what terms & conditions is the employer eligible for a refund? , does employer get a percentage of refund or full refund? , refund process is immediate or have a process to go through?
d. Maid replacement policy – any fees involved in replacement? , under what circumstances and conditions where the replacement of maid is required?
Note: If there is anything unclear or any doubts, the employers should voice out their concerns to the maid agency before signing the agreement.
Different agencies have different way of operating and doing business. Finding a reliable and trustworthy maid agency may be difficult and time consuming but, using these pointers and tips provided will surely allow employers to have an easier time finding a maid agency that suits their needs.