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Helpers in Singapore: Guide to insurance for your foreign domestic worker

Hiring a domestic worker is not a task to be taken lightly. There’s plenty of paperwork, mandatory training, and the whole process is seasoned with lots of fees along the way. Some headaches can be avoided by going through an agency, but this is bound to generate even more expenses.

Ready to hire your own domestic worker? You’ll need to familiarise yourself with some industry lingo first.

  • FDW or Foreign Domestic Worker: This is the person who will be coming to live with you and work in your house. Notice that the industry has moved beyond the term “maid”.
  • MOM or Ministry of Manpower: This is the arm of government that oversees the hiring of all domestic workers.
  • EOP or Employer Orientation Program: Unless hiring through an agency, first time employers must attend a three hour program at the Ministry of Manpower before submitting a work-permit application for an FDW. This course costs $30 and takes about 3 hours.
  • SIP or Settling In Program: All FDWs must attend this one-day orientation program within three working days of arriving in Singapore. The $75 cost is paid by the employer.

As an employer, you will be responsible for providing accommodation for your FDW. By law, she needs to have a space that offers privacy, is well-ventilated and safe, and provides basic amenities.

Hiring a helper is serious business in Singapore
Hiring a helper is serious business in Singapore


This is only the minimum. FDWs are a long way from home; As an employer you can show compassion by offering her a comfortable living space that’s all her own. Inviting someone into your home and asking them to care for your family is an intimate thing. It’s important to start cultivating a relationship of mutual respect right away.

Since last January 2013, all FDWs in Singapore are entitled to one rest day per week. If no rest day is allowed, your domestic helper must be compensated in wages, or through a make-up rest day later on in the week.

Employers are also required to provide medical insurance with coverage up to $15,000 per year for inpatient care and surgery, as well as personal accident insurance with coverage up to $40,000. This is in addition to taking care of basic health needs. Skimp on medical insurance and you take the risk of paying the cost yourself, which will be high – Singapore has one of the most expensive health care systems in the world.

The minimum amount of coverage will not go far in the case of sickness or accident. Consider that $15,000 is just about enough to cover the cost of a broken bone, which would put your FDW out of commission work-wise for at least a couple of weeks.

At Pacific Prime, insurance is tailored to the unique needs of FDWs. Agents do a short interview with new FDW employers, and provide a list of about 10-12 plans with a variety of coverages, giving you freedom to choose a package that suits your domestic helper’s needs and your budget.

Medical insurance can help to put your mind at ease about your responsibilities as an employer. It’s also another great way to show respect for the workers who travel a great distance from their home to work in yours.