|Starting in Singapore: Employing foreign house help|
Employing Foreign House Help
Wages for house help depend on the size of the residence, the number of people in the family, the hours required and experience. Foreign help generally comes from around the SE Asian region - Indonesia, Philippines and Sri Lanka and there are differences in cost dependant on the country of origin and experience. On average, full-time Filipino maids who cook, do general household chores and babysit earn about $300-$400 a month while Indonesian and Sri Lankan maids are paid an average of $230-$250 a month. The difference is mainly due to the superior english capability that a Filipino maid will generally possess. Indivual differences in wages are dependant on the maid's experience - meaning that a maid who is new to Singapore will earn less. Part-time gardeners and drivers are also available.
It is common practice for employers here to provide an air ticket for their maids to return home on annual leave. If the maid chooses not to take leave, then the employer should give her the equivalent of an air ticket in cash. An air ticket to the Philippines (Manila) or to Indonesia (Jakarta) will probably cost no more than $350, because there are always special offers for maids.
Work permits are required for non-citizens, and employers of foreign domestic help must pay a levy, currently standing at $345 per month. In addition, you'll have to undertake an immigration bond of $5000 in case your maid breaks the law or the terms of her permit. The amount will only be paid if that happens.
The easiest way to obtain foreign house help is to go to any of the numerous maid agencies available in Singapore, especially in places like Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road and Peninsula Plaza at High Street. There you can take a look at the maids' biodata and handpick the one you require. The process usually takes from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on whether the maid in question has a valid passport in her home country. Different agencies charge different fees so be sure to call first before committing to one agency. The idea of paying an agency is to let them take the strain and cope with all the red tape, although there may not be as much as you imagine For those of you who want to know how to obtain a maid without an agency, we providedetails at the bottom. Otherwise, finding an agency isn't a problem - there is even an extensive collection all in one place here online.
We went to three separate agencies to get an idea of fees. From what we were quoted (May 2000), we can approximate the following costs:
It is very difficult to give any kind of concrete statement on costings, because Singapore maid agencies are in a fiercely competitive market and the above figures and what they cover can only be approximate at best. However, for this kind of figure, you can typically expect the following to be covered:
Salaries are generally a matter for the employer and the maid to agree upon, although the agency may well specify a minimum figure. In any situation, it is best not to go below the minimum figures given below, since the sums involved are small indeed relative to the average workload of a maid. The higher salary is for maids with more experience - presumably the more proficient ones.
There are a few things which you, as an employer, should take note of:
If you are unsure about the legalities and would like to avoid the paperwork, you should seek the advice and help of a good maid agency.
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