EnterAsia Information Services

Living with a Maid

Employment of a Foreign Domestic Worker in Singapore


Hiring a Foreign Maid

Employing a maid in Singapore is easy and inexpensive when compared to other countries. You have to evaluate your needs for either a mainly foreign full-time live-in maid or a locally based part-time maid.  In Singapore, “Maid” is also referred to “Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW)”.


Are you eligible to hire foreign domestic workers (FWD)?

You can hire a foreign domestic work if you are one of the following:

● A Singapore citizen
● A Singapore permanent resident
● An employment pass holder
● A dependent pass holder


Who is eligible to be a foreign domestic workers (FWD)?

The Ministry of Manpower impose the following restrictions to the eligibility to be a FWD in Singapore:


● Must be female
● Must have the nationality belonging to one of the approved source country or territory, including Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand.
● Must be aged 23 to 50 at the time of application.
● Must have at least 8 years of formal education with a recognised certificates.


Employers Orientation Program

First-time employers of Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) have to undergo a compulsory half-day orientation program on their roles and responsibilities.


MOM will interview randomly selected Foreign Domestic Workers working for the first time in Singapore during their initial months of employment. These interviews will allow MOM to determine if the employee has adjusted to the work environment in Singapore and to reiterate the importance of safe working conditions as well as their rights and responsibilities.  Employers will be notified of the scheduled date and time for the interview, if their maids have been selected.


Full Time Maids

For a full time live-in maid you should calculate around S$1000 per month plus hiring costs and airfare tickets for the bi-annual home leave and return. Monthly salaries for Filipinas average S$350-S$400 and depend on the country of origin, experience and English language abilities. Indonesian maids are paid SGD 280 per month onwards. As usual expatriates tend to pay more than the locals. There is an additional food and toiletries allowance of S$150-180 if the maid is not eating the family’s food and receives shampoo, soap and toothpaste from her employer.


To ensure prompt salary payment, salaries need to be paid into the maid’s bank account in Singapore. This is a useful option as bank transaction records of salary payment will useful in the event of any salary dispute. Foreign domestic workers who have been paid promptly by their employers can choose to keep their current arrangements.


In addition to instructions about tasks required, be sure to instruct your maid on the necessary level of hygiene and childcare practices which may differ from her home country.  First aid training/CPR may be a good idea, and check if she can swim!


Employers who change their maids five times or more in a year need to attend an orientation program for employers and may be interviewed by the Ministry of Manpower to establish the reason for the changes. Future applications for foreign maids may be rejected.

Miscellaneous costs for hiring a FDW:
  ● Maid Agency fees (including maid’s flight) or
  ● Transfer Costs if maid is already in Singapore
  ● Home leave ticket or cash every two years
  ● Return ticket at the end of the employment (one way only)
  ● Holiday and Birthday cash presents
  ● Insurance and Security Bond




Part Time Maids

Pay for part time maids for laundry, housekeeping and cleaning starts at S$10 per hour and S$ 15 per hour when an employment/housekeeping agency is involved. Sometimes agencies merely match a client with a local maid for a commission while others manage the maids and replace them if necessary.


In the latter case, the agency employs the maid and pays their salary, CPF and insurance. Many of the maids are under full-time maids contracts and then work part time for the individual household. If you just want a service to clean your home and and iron your clothes four times a month (5 hours) you end up paying around S$ 300/month for a 3-bedroom apartment. Insist that the same maid works for you all the time. One time cleaning before you move into your home costs from S$ 280 onwards depending on the size of the home.


Refer to our Business Directory for a list of agencies providing maid employment and house-cleaning services,


Your Maid Agency

Before you enter into an agreement with a maid agency, please contact different agencies to find out about their fees as they varies. You may be charged a lump sum consisting of an agency fee and a documentation fee.   Maids hired by an agency need to take up a loan of between S$800 and S$1800 which is deductible in rates from their monthly salary. Sometimes agencies require you to pay the maids loan off on their arrival in advance. At the moment different agencies have different terms and clauses in their contracts which makes it very difficult to compare prices and services.
Arrange for counseling and an exchange in case you cannot get along with the chosen maid but be aware of a replacement fees and a levy while your former maid is awaiting transfer. You must inform the agency of a transfer or risk a penalty fee.


Maid Agency have to make available their suggested maid’s employment history to their prospective employers.  You can perform an online check to verify whether a maid agency is registered with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).


The Consumer Association of Singapore has set up CaseTrust, an accreditation scheme for employment agencies. This will ensure that maid agencies maintain acceptable ethical and professional standards.The accreditation scheme is now mandatory for all agencies. Accredited maid agencies are assessed for fair-trading practices, maid-recruitment procedures and after-placement services by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and listed on MOM’s website.


We have compiled a whole chapter on interviewing, selecting and training a maid in our Relocation Guide. We provide tools such as the Maid Interview Assistant, the Maid Contract Assistant and To-Do-ListsEmergency Lists etc. for maids which you can use freely once you have qualified for the password.



Arrange a Work Permit


Obtain an application form by calling the help line of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and visit their web site. Here, you can also download an updated version of a guide and a checklist and check on the levy you need to pay for your maid. Currently this is S$345 per month.  The MOM also supplies online videos in different languages for your maid to explain about her duties and regulations.


Transfer a Maid

You can find a maid who has already worked in Singapore and just needs to be transferred. Many expats like to help their maids if they want to stay on in Singapore by advertising them on the information boards in expat frequented supermarkets.  The maid needs to undergo a medical examination if the last dates back more than 6 months ago.


The MOM also wants you to sign an Inter-Bank Giro (IGB) application for the Central Provident Fund Board. The Workers Levy is deducted on the 17th of each month. If your account is empty you have to pay a hefty fine for late payment! In repeated cases the work permit may be cancelled.