Having a domestic helper can be one of the huge plusses of living in Singapore, especially if you have children or pets. But, the hiring process can be lengthy and complex. Finding the right person can take time, then there’s applying for work permits and buying domestic helper insurance. Here’s a step-by-step account of what you need to do, from the team at Pacific Prime, that we hope will help.
#1 Find out more about being an employer
Attend the Employer Orientation Programme (EOP); this comprehensive three-hour session is designed to help you understand the role and responsibilities of employing a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW). It’s compulsory for first-time hirers and those who have changed FDWs frequently. You should attend the session at least two working days before you submit a work permit application for your helper. You can take the class in person, with costs ranging from $30 to $34.50, or do it online for $46.
#2 Work out an employment agreement
In Singapore, you can either approach an employment agency (EA) or hire directly. When choosing an agency, verify their credentials by checking the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Agencies will generally screen your requirements (for instance, a single parent needing childcare and elderly support at home) and select a qualified helper who can meet your needs.
Whether you choose to hire directly or approach an EA, as an employer you must come to an agreement with the helper on the employment terms. The following should be discussed and agreed upon:
- Placement loan
- Number of rest days per month
- Compensation in lieu of rest day
- Termination notice period (this can be waived by mutual consent)
- Compensation in lieu of termination notice
#3 Apply for a work permit
In order to work for you, your helper needs to have a valid permit to perform domestic work in the country. Generally, EAs will have a number of helpers who already have work permits. However, there may be cases where work permits haven’t been granted. Should this be the case, the helper’s work permit should be submitted either online or at a physical SingPost branch. Visit the MOM website for more information and application details if your helper requires a work permit.
In Singapore, it’s illegal to hire a foreign domestic worker without a valid work permit. Not getting a permit can cost you a hefty fine of between $5,000 to $30,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year. It’s definitely not worth the risk, so it’s very important to get it right the first time!
#4 Get a security bond
This refers to a legally binding contract to pay the MOM if either the employer or domestic helper violates any of the work permit conditions. It costs $5,000 for each non-Malaysian foreign worker.
#5 Settle insurance coverage
It is mandatory for the employer to purchase personal accident and medical insurance cover for foreign domestic workers, as stipulated by the MOM. Singapore’s healthcare system is not free for foreign workers, which is why the MOM emphasises the importance of employers obtaining hospitalisation insurance, as well as accident and medical insurance for their domestic helpers. Any compensation must be made payable to the domestic helper or their beneficiaries.
The minimum cover for FDWs is as follows:
- Medical insurance with a coverage of at least $15,000 per year for inpatient care and day surgery during your helper’s stay in Singapore
- Personal Accident Insurance
If you’re applying for a new Work Permit or renewing an existing one, your domestic helper’s Personal Accident Insurance must have a sum insured of at least $60,000 per year. It should cover sudden, unforeseen and unexpected accidents resulting in permanent disability or death. Also, it shouldn’t contain any extra exclusion clauses that aren’t in the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations.
#6 Send documentation for your helper’s travels
After agreeing on the contract, send the notification letter and travel documents to your helper, if they are currently overseas.
#7 Enrol your helper in the Settling-In Programme (SIP)
If your helper is migrating to Singapore to work for the first time, arrange for her to attend this compulsory orientation programme. The one-day course is called the Settling-In Programme (SIP). The SIP helps to educate attendees on safety precautions and living in Singapore. The programme is conducted in the native language of the helper. Once they’ve completed it, they can begin work in Singapore. Employers will need to pay a fee of $75 for their helpers to attend the course. Topics covered include:
- An introduction to Singapore
- Employment conditions
- Safety at home
- Safety in other areas
- Relationship and stress management
Need more help with insurance?
Get the help of an experienced broker to ensure that the insurance coverage for you and your domestic helper is settled. Pacific Prime Singapore offers essential insurance plans (including accident and health insurance) and can provide advice on the different types of domestic helper insurance available.