It’s standard practice for a maid agency in Singapore to charge domestic helpers a whopping fee that the employer pays upfront. Then the helper has monthly deductions taken from her salary to pay it off. It’s a hardship for her and can cost the employer a lot too. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? If you’re thinking of hiring a helper, read on.
JENNIFER YARBROUGH, an American attorney, didn’t think so either. She felt so strongly that domestic helpers here needed some TLC that she opened a maid agency, White Glove.
White Glove does things differently. For one thing, it doesn’t charge the domestic helper any fees. And it also does a little match-making! “We work hard to make sure there’s a good fit between employer and helper, rather than just giving you the person who is sitting in our office,” says Jennifer. “We only deal with transfer and ex-Singapore or overseas helpers, too, so we know they’re experienced; they know the lay of the land, how to take the MRT and so on.”
For hiring a helper, Jennifer also uses her lawyerly research skills to do thorough background checks, above and beyond a typical agency. This includes a social media check, getting references from former employers, and compiling an extensive biodata to make sure she really knows the person she’s putting into your home.
10 questions to ask when hiring a helper
Jennifer also has lots of recommendations on the hiring process, including the all-important interview. This is your time to really get to know the helper – so you should leave nothing unsaid or unasked. Here are some key questions to ask (taken from the White Glove Interview Guide):
- Why are you transferring families?
- Tell me about your own family.
- How is your health?
- Have you worked with children the same age as mine?
- What do you really hate doing?
- How would you handle a baby who didn’t stop crying?
- If my daughter fell in the playground and hit her head, what would you do?
- What’s your favourite dish to cook? Tell me how you cook it.
- Where do you like to shop for groceries and other products?
- Describe what you do to care for pets.
Your guiding light for the interview process is to be honest and upfront about what you expect her to do as your helper. And that means knowing what you want first. How involved with child-rearing do you want her to be? Will she hang with your family or retire to her own space after dinner? Will you plan the meals or will she? What time do you expect home on her day off? What are her work hours? The list of things to consider is long – and important to define.
Another important point: if you meet a helper you like, offer her a job right away. Interview in the morning and then offer the job before somebody snatches her from you! Currently, the starting monthly salary for a Filipino helper is $650. For a transfer helper, you can expect to pay a minimum of $650, though the average is $750 to $900.
Some tips on how to be a good employer
- Want a good relationship with your helper? Be kind! Put yourself in your helper’s shoes.
- Do quarterly reviews and balance the comments so you’re giving positive feedback and constructive comments.
- Ask for feedback from her, too. Maybe she doesn’t understand what you want and is scared to ask you to clarify.
- Build incentives into the contract.
Want to learn more? Visit White Glove here or call them on 9752 0464.