Looking to hire a maid but not sure about the costs involved? Here's the complete guide on what you need to know.
Around one in five households currently hires a Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW), with around 245,000 maids in Singapore in total.
Hiring a maid in Singapore extends beyond simply the salary you'll need to pay. There is a host of other issues and costs that you'll need to settle, which we’ll cover in this guide.
- Salary range
- Maid levy
- Working and rest days
- Living expenses
- One-off costs
- Maid placement fee/loan
- Additional COVID-19 related costs
The salary of a domestic helper in Singapore ranges from about S$400 to S$650 per month. This amount, however, can be lower or higher depending on the nationality of your maid and the agency through which you hire her.
Here is a breakdown of estimated minimum monthly salaries as per the maids’ nationalities:
Sri Lanka: S$497
Besides the countries listed above, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) allows Singaporeans to hire MDWs from other countries such as Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Macau, and Thailand.
Keep in mind that the above are only minimum monthly salaries if you hire an MDW from one of the countries listed above. You should budget for more, particularly if the MDW you choose has prior experience working in Singapore or elsewhere.
The expense of employing a maid with prior expertise or who is presently working in Singapore is greater. To be sure, there are several other factors that have boosted the demand for transfer maids, not the least of which is the low supply of new MDWs owing to border restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hiring a transfer maid costs between S$800 and S$1,000 today, compared to approximately $650 to $800 previously.
Take note that the salaries stated do not include the costs of food, accommodation, utilities, transportation fees to and from work (if applicable), or other miscellaneous expenses such as medical treatment for any injuries sustained by the maid while at home unaccompanied without a household member present.
The maid levy in Singapore is a monthly fee that employers must pay to hire a foreign domestic worker. The levy helps to offset some of the costs associated with training and supporting migrant domestic workers in Singapore.
The current maid levy in Singapore is S$300 per month. The levy increases to S$450 for any subsequent MDWs hired.
If you cannot afford to pay for the maid levy, then you can apply for the concessionary levy fee. A concessionary levy is a fee that employers can apply for if they are unable to pay the full monthly maid levy.
To apply, you'll need to provide proof of your inability to pay the full amount of the maid levy, your bank account details, and proof of your personal income.
Families that qualify for a concessionary maid levy in Singapore are:
- Families with children under the age of 16 or people who are disabled and require personal care
- Families with a member who needs help with at least one daily activity
- Families of an elderly family member who is at least 67 years old
People who are not eligible for the concessionary maid levy in Singapore include:
- Families with no children or dependents under 16 years of age living in the same residence
- Non-citizens whose work permits have been revoked due to poor behaviour and/or criminal offences
- People that need care are not Singapore citizens
- The person that needs care no longer lives with you
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Working and rest days
Maids in Singapore are entitled to one day off per week, or eight consecutive days off every two months. They must also receive a minimum of 12 hours of rest each day, which must include the uninterrupted nighttime sleep of seven hours.
The employer is not allowed to require the maid to work on her day off, though some help can be requested if the need arises. If this is the case, then they are required to pay additional compensation of at least a day's salary.
Assuming she gets paid S$600 every month, the two extra days would cost around S$46.
Employers who have their maids work overtime without paying them must provide for reasonable rest hours before allowing them to return home or engage in other activities.
MOM is planning to implement a monthly mandatory rest day for MDWs. This cannot be compensated, and it is meant to improve the health of MDWs. The mandatory rest policy will be implemented this year, 2022.
When calculating the living expenses of a domestic helper, you will need to factor in food, accommodation, and other miscellaneous costs.
The average cost of food for a domestic worker is about S$200 per month. This amount can vary depending on her personal preferences and dietary restrictions. For example, if your helper is vegetarian, you may need to budget more for food costs.
Additionally, these costs can vary depending on your family's spending behaviour. For instance, if your family likes eating out and often goes on vacations that include your maid, then your cost would be higher.
Apart from your monthly recurring charge, you'll have to pay for other one-time costs when hiring a maid, such as insurance, airfare, medical examination, employment agency fee, and application costs.
If you're hiring a maid for the first time and don't have any specific individual in mind, using a maid agency is your best bet. The appropriate maid agency will assist you in finding the right help based on your needs.
The maid agency will also help you in processing the necessary documents as well as handle all payments for your maid.
Most agencies charge a fee of S$1,000 to S$3,000, which is non-refundable and covers administrative costs. The agency fee may also include your first month of payment for the maid.
Hiring a maid transfer may help you save money. This is when you hire a maid who already works for another family in Singapore rather than one who has to fly in from her own country, which is more expensive.
Maid placement fee/loan
When hiring a maid, many agencies will require you to pay an upfront placement fee. This is usually equivalent to one month's salary for your maid and is meant to cover the administrative costs of finding her a job, training her and her medical check-up.
Because you will be receiving the loan back through deductions made from the maid's salary in the first few months, fees for placement or maid loans are not considered part of your expenses.
Additional COVID-19-related costs
Because of new COVID-19 travel restrictions, safety measures, and additional administration and coordination work, the fees you must pay have more than doubled.
In order to hire a maid during the pandemic, there are several new safety precautions and requirements that must be observed. These include MOM entry permission, swab tests before the maid's departure, Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) period served at an approved institution, and so on.
Even if you don't hire through an agency, these expenses add up. For example, SHN dedicated sites cost S$1,050 for 10 days, while COVID-19 tests range from S$125 to S$160 each.
As a result, agencies have raised their service fees to reflect the additional effort required to manage all of these new time-sensitive requirements, while airfare costs may have also gone up as a result of flight restrictions.
Lastly, MOM recommends that employers who hire transfer maids share the SHN and COVID-19 examination costs incurred when they initially entered the country to account for these higher fees. This is only relevant for MDWs who are transferred within 12 months after completing the SHN.
In conclusion, hiring a maid is certainly an expensive process. But if you consider the cost of time and effort spent on housework and other duties every day, this money may be worth it to have peace of mind and spend more time on what really matters.
If you're interested in hiring a maid, be sure to research the agencies and their fees carefully before making a decision, especially as the placement fee is non-refundable.
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