PostHeaderIcon Singapore maid agency scams?

I’ve 2 similar cases here which I think can help readers protect themselves from unscrupulous agencies. Based on my interactions with agencies, most of us are good people - really. We work for what we deserve just like you. Unfortunately there are the bad ones out there. You just have to know their tricks. Read this - Singapore maid agency scams and the 2 case studies below.

Case #1:

Hi,

First of all thanks for your initiative…and without any reason your blog wont come in google’s search list number 1….thanks again…

I am on EP and working here staying in S’pore for 3 years with a 3 yr old kid…recently we had taken a maid from XXX agency…2nd day we asked the maid to give a call to her husband so that her family will be relived….however after the call she told that her husband wants her to go back to her country….and the maid wanted to go back…we paid 3200 for her loan..and 1000$ for agency fee + other stuff…so we went to agency and could not find any other maid…the maid did not want to go back to agency as every time she changes employer, agency adds one more month of loan to her…however we could not find any replacement and agreed to keep the maid for 8 months to complete her loan…please note that the contract was for 2 years….

yesterday the maid ran away from home…my father and daughter were sleeping while she left with out taking her belongings…we called up agency and agency told she is with an organization called HOME…and she wants to go back to her country….after a lot of talk…we decided to file a police complaint….we never contacted HOME as to us the agency is the representative….

I realized that i must buy her return ticket…so i bought a ticket and tomorrow i am going to cancel her work permit…the agency wants to give us replacement but it will take almost 2 months to get a new maid…moreover for the new replacement maid we also need to pay 600$ more (insurance+300 POE phillipines + documentaion) etc…the agencies behavior is not good…though after lot of clash they agreed to return me back the loan amount 3K almost…but everytime they are saying that as per the rule they should not return me the maid’s loan but they are doing me a favor…i am not at all satisfied with their behavior…more over they are saying that to get the loan amount back i need to sign a form which says i am not going to complain about the agency….then i came to know that i can complain against the agency…

you see…the maid came on 6th december and left on 22nd…and within this time i lost 1000k…and the agency is not going to take responsibility of that…at the max they are ready to offer replacement which is going to take more than 2 months…

can you suggest me whether i can complain against the agency or not…its them who had brought the maid here…leave apart the maid…what to do with her…she does not even have money to go back home also….but the agency should be reasonable…

thank you gain…

It’s already more than 4 months. BUT the maid agency hasn’t returned a single cent of the $4,244.60 I paid to it after the FDW was transfered to a new employer! After only 17 days of “work”, FDW arrogantly “resigned”. I wondered why until I noticed that the maid agency happily transfered FDW elsewhere inorder to collect a new set of FEES from another employer. Meanwhile, the maid agency pretended that it is getting a “replacement” for me. After nearly 2 months of many excuses, no FDW came. I would be grateful if someone can help me. I came across many old folks who lost their hard earned monies to agencies but do not know how to voice their grievances. The helpless folks were not aware that the agencies have certain unscrupulous schemes to make money from just one FDW.

Case #2:

Hi,

My maid agent promised me he will arrange for maid in 3-6 days when i explained him my urgency for maid. But after i paid an advance amount of 1000 he keep on asking me to transfer 500 more dollars to buy flight ticket to maid o bring her here.

But even after i transferred the money there wasnt any response from him, and i am keep on chasing him for status.

when i ask him for purchased ticket he used to send some ticket but it is not a valid purchased ticket.

So frustrated with his attitude i cancelled work permit for maid and asked agent to return my whole money.

He said ok but he is not returning the money.

Can you please advise how to get back my money. I already lodged a complaint with CASE i dont know the timelines for the feedback given to them.

Please advise.

Regards.

=========== My thoughts ========

1. I’m sorry to read about the troubles you have with the 2 agencies. My belief is that this trouble can be prevented if you approach a reputable agency. With the MOM EA directory - you can check how long the agency has been in business, what percentage of their maids stay with their employers for at least 1 year, etc. I have an article on this - How to Find a Good Maid in Singapore Find one with a lot of positive feedback from employers.

2. It is very important to ask the agencies what they will do what things go wrong. Make sure they have it in the contract so that you can “take legal action” against them based on the contract.

3. Generally, it is to the disadvantage of the employer when the helper wants to go home. Here’s the rationale - it is because of you that the helper is working here in Singapore. So, if she wants to go home, it is your responsibility to pay for the air ticket. If the girl goes to HOME, you’re going to have a difficult case and it is best to pay for her air ticket and let her go home and let the matter rest. You don’t want to “fight” with anyone. Life’s too stressful for that.

4. You can always complain about the agencies to CASE or MOM or AEAs. The important thing is that you must have the black and white to prove your case - particularly the service contract you signed with the agency. That will state your rights as to refunds, replacements, guarantees, fees paid, etc. The MOM has a standard contract which all agencies are to used. The only difference in the contract is the different pricing, terms and conditions, and market practices of the agency. But, all must be within the guidelines of MOM.

5. So, what can you do when the maid refuses to work? And, the replacement maid is not coming any time soon? If the maid refuses to work, you can always ask the agency to do some counselling. It is always a good idea to try to keep the current worker if possible. Bear in mind that now we are having the new generation of “Internet savvy” Gen-Y girls. They are not as good an employee as the earlier batches of girls. That’s my opinion. And, if the replacement maid is not coming, you’ll have to check your agency contract on the timeline and what are your options.

6. Despite the contract and terms, it is always up to the agency to do the right thing. The better ones will be willing to meet you half way and both of you bear some of the costs. Sometimes, it is the helper that causes all the problems for everybody. They are just human and they change their minds quickly and can be very fickle-minded. If you know women, then you have an idea ;-)

Thank you for reading.

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PostHeaderIcon Advice on a case that went really wrong

My sympathy to this reader. I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone. If you meet an irresponsible agency, you’re really in for a tough time…

Hi,

I would really need some advise based on my current plight. I newly employed a maid, as I’m due to deliver in a few weeks time and have a 2 yr old toddler. I took an Indian maid of 3 yrs experience from a certain agency. After paying the full amount to the agency including 2 months of the maids salary upfront, It took almost 1.5 months for the maid to arrive although i was promised that it will only take 3 weeks at most. And that too after i made numerous calls to the agency to expedite on it. They told me that the maid child was sick and hence the delay. And when she finally arrived to spore she came to my house the very next day to commence work. She had a handphone with her.

I learned for her that she had paid the agency her 2 months salary of $800 for her flight and the agency fees. On her 1st day at work She was using her hand phone and was making calls without asking my permission when she hasnt even completed the task didn’t even She only had to cook for herself and took her dinner by 7.30 pm and went to bed by 9am. She had attitude problem and was choosy in her choice of food. She would rest about 2 hours in the day when she only woke up at 8.30am and wasn’t even given much housework to do. She would talk back at me when I told her how I wanted the job to be done. It was as though I was the employee and she was the boss. I gave up and called the agency while at work on the 5th day itself that I wanted a replacement maid. She told me that I would need to pay 1 month of salary for the. We maid and insurance money. On top of that I had to pay lodging of $25 per day for this maid untilHi,

I would really need some advise based on my current plight. I newly employed a maid, as I’m due to deliver in a few weeks time and have a 2 yr old toddler. I went through this maid agency and was given the biodata of an Indian maid with 3 yrs experience. After paying the full amount to the agency including 2 months of the maids salary upfront, It took almost 1.5 months for the maid to arrive although i was promised that it will only take 3 weeks at most. And that too after i made numerous calls to the agency to expedite on it. They told me that the maid child was sick and hence the delay. And when she finally arrived to spore she came to my house the very next day to commence work. She had a handphone with her.

I learned for her that she had paid the agency her 2 months salary of $800 for her flight and the agency fees. On her 1st day at work She was using her hand phone and was making calls without asking my permission when she hasnt even completed the task didn’t even She had nothing mic she finds a new employer. Later that very day after I came back from work after fetching back my toddler, she ran away as soon as went to bathe my toddler. After 3 hrs later the agency responded to my numerous missed calls and just told me that the maid had gone to her elder sis who is also a maid working here for 15 yrs. I didn’t even know what the maid stole from my house and how she managed to get the money to travel since she told me she didn’t has a single penny. The agency just told me to choose a biodata of another maid which they had emailed to me earlier that morning. They told me not to make any police report too. Since they were closed for the next 4 days and not responsive when I tried to reach at the personal mobile I had no choice but to wait in vain. Hence I did a check on the mom website of the maid’s employment history. To my

Horror I realised that the maid had only worked with her last employer for 10 months and she had switched more than 10 employers each never lasting for more than a month.. I was shocked that the biodata was falsified and I was told that the maid had a very reputable record and had took care of infant with her previous employer. I going down I person to the agency to seek clarifications on this. Till date the agency has not given my contractual paper which I signed and are not transparent. I would like to check on a few things:

1. Do I need to pay the salary upfront since I had already paid the agency 2 months of the salary, where they can just offset the amt from there?

2. I was told to pay the insurance for the new maid, else I would needed to pay the agency fees. Wouldnt there be a a partial refund of the Insurance fees for the runaway maid ?

3. Do I need to pay for the maids lodgings once she ran away on her own as I had intended to keep her till ingot the replacement. I have tillnow paid a total of 2200 to the agency for the package including the 2 months placement fees.

I really hope that you could advise me in this matter as I’m losing sleep over this and skipping meals when Im already due a a couple of weeks time with a very tough pregnancy..Thanks in advance

==== My thoughts ====

Please do not take this as legal advice or “the” way to solve the issue(s). They are for your consideration.

It is really tough to juggle pregnancy and getting a maid at the same time. I’ve had employers with similar issues with other agencies. Try to get your hubby or relative to help. I’ll answer your questions and at the same time provide “best practices” that consumers should have to protect themselves. Hope it’ll help future readers.

1. The maid’s salary paid upfront is generally the maid’s loan. It is supposed to be paid to the agency so that they can pay their overseas training centre or partners. It is also a “confirmation” that you’re employing that particular helper.

2. Generally,you’ll have to pay the insurance of the new maid first. Later on, the refund for the old maid will be given to you after the insurance company has been informed that the old maid is no longer with you. This may take a few weeks or 1-2 months, depending on the process of the company.

3. I don’t think you’ll have to pay for lodgings since the agency is not providing any lodging service. I suppose the previous helper is staying with the sister.

Here are further information that you should know:

1. The MOM has limited the money payable by the helper to the Singapore agency to 2 months of their salary for every 2 years’ of work here. If you’re paying this for the girl, you’re supposed to be able to deduct this from her salary. Whatever the girl pay to the overseas training center is between her and the center.

2. There is also a maid’s loan component which is payable to the overseas center. Again, this is deductible from the helper’s salary, and this money is supposed to be remitted by the Singapore agency to the overseas center. Agencies are not supposed to keep this money and as far as I understand, MOM will be checking the remittances.

3. My feeling is that the agency you’re dealing with is dishonest - they shouldn’t be asking you to pay the agency fee again if you don’t pay the insurance for the new girl. They are 2 separate issues. The insurance has to be paid for the new girl. The agency fee, if they have a guarantee for replacement of the girl, shouldn’t be charged at all for the replacement. That is the normal practice.

4. Since the earlier helper has been with you for only 5 days, the agency should not be asking you to “top up” with another 1 month. Any “top up” should be pro-rated to the time the girl was with you. But, that is only if the replacement helper is from overseas.

5. If the replacement helper is in Singapore, an employment history should be given to you. It was a good thing that you checked. The new girl’s employment history is very bad. I wouldn’t employ her.

6. I don’t know how you chose this agency. But, it is always a good idea to do a little research before engaging an agency. From my experience, whether an agency is “good” or not, is when a case really goes wrong like this case. A responsible agency will make it right no matter what.

Thank you for reading.

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PostHeaderIcon Maid Agencies with a Good Heart

I have collated some comments/queries/case studies from readers and put them into a common thread below. And, I also like the title of this post. ;-)

Comment #1:

Possible to advise where can i find an maid agency that at least has some heart. I am so scare to get a maid from an agency due to some incident which I don’t want to explain since its over.

My current maid wanted to go home and after talking to her for months, she still insist on going back and I have agree as I want her to be happy. She is a nice gal and is working well with my kiddo so letting her go is a really sad thing at my end but is her choice and I want to respect her.

I have visited at least 15 maid agency and so far non really is good as they didn’t even bother to know what I want or need and just give me a stacj of BIO-Data to choose from. Some just encourage me to get a transfer which I told them I am not comfortable but still push. [named removed by admin]

My Reply to Comment #1:

I think it is really difficult to know whether a maid agency has a good heart or not. It is like trying to judge a book by its cover - we just wouldn’t know until we take a look inside. However, there are some ways which you can protect yourself from “bad people”.

1. Ensure that the agency really makes an effort to find out what are your wants. If they throw a stack of bio-data at you and ask you to search for yourself, you know they are not interested in helping you. They just want to see “by luck” whether you can find someone you want.

A responsible agency will have a least a short questionaire to ask you some important questions so that they can help you shortlist relevant candidates. The fact is they should work for their money, and not ask you to simply search the bio-data yourself. If they don’t have any relevant candidates, they should tell you the truth and ask you to try another agency as well.

2. Employing a transfer maid is not necessarily a bad thing. The first thing you should ask for is the Employment History of the maid they are recommending to you. The agency should be able to get that from the MOM database. If they say, they can’t, you know that they are lying. It is also a contravention of MOM rules. Stay away from them.

3. Before you sign on anything. Anything. Read and make sure you understand what you ‘re signing. Ask about guarantees, refunds, procedures if things don’t work out, etc. Write them down in your own words. Write down the date and time and with whom you talked to. This is to prevent misrepresentation by the agency personnel. Note down the EA Personnel Number for reference.

4. Another thing you may wish to note is whether the agency has many good testimonials from consumers. I think this is very rare in the industry. You should be in good hands, if they do.

5. Try maid agencies accredited by the Consumers Association of Singapore. If they “play cheat”, at least you can go to CASE to get back your money because they are under the purview of CASE.

Comment #2:

I really hope some one can recommend me where to find an agency which at least work with ethic and not just $$$$. Please help.

My Reply to Comment #2:

While I can’t vouch for other agencies, at least my boss is ethical and he is never totally about $$$. So boss, if you’re reading, remember my pay rise ;-)  I never tell him about this blog anyway.

On a more serious note, take a look at my reply to comment #1. Maybe another point is whether the people working in the agency look happy to you. If the boss is a nice guy or gal, the staff should be generally happy. My thought is that a “rotten” boss wouldn’t have any happy staff.

Comments #3:

Hi,

I have a 2 two month old baby and I’m a working mum.

Will appreciate greatly if you can email me a list of accredited maid agencies.

Thank you in advance for your effort.

[name removed by admin]

My Reply to Comment #3:

Click here and choose CaseTrust for Employment Agencies. There are only 19 accredited agencies in the list. Please note that accreditation is no longer compulsory but these agencies choose to hold themselves to a higher standard. So, kudos to them.

Comments #4:

hi, i am looking for FDW to take of my 2 yr old baby. like to get yr feedback on this employment agency [name removed] is good. also which agency r u from? maybe can help us in the hiring.

My Reply to Comment #4:

Take a look at my replies above. Sorry, I don’t promote any agencies here, including my boss’.

A reader asked about using new maid agencies and non CASE accredited agencies. I suppose using non-CASE agencies are okay. As for new maid agencies - wait for them to have some track record first before using them. But then again, if you don’t use them, where are they getting a track record? Sigh… Just something for you to think about.


Comments #5:

Hi. I have a few queries.

Firstly, would you let me know which agency you worked for?

2.Recently, I engaged the services of one agency. They charged a fee to ‘insure’ the placement fees which is the maid’s loan right? then my maid started having some problem and went away. So they proceed to get me a replacement maid. When I said I paid the fees, so the replacement should have been free, they said yes but I still need to pay the medical fees and the MOM fees, which end up amounting up to thousand plus. Is that the norm?

3. As usual, I gave instructions not to let the previous maid meet up with the replacement. However, I found out that they even spent a night together in the hostel and she badmouth us to the replacement maid.

4. end up the maid wanted out within a month. By right, can I just terminate and get the remaining of the maid’s loan back?

5. When the previous maid left, she went to the agency to look for another employer to be a transfer maid. the agency refused to terminate her work permit under our name. and even after our maid arrive, they send the maid to us but did not apply for work permit as the other maid had not found employment. Is that right? they dragged until 2-3 weeks after she already started work before proceeding? Is that the usual practice?

6. Does all agencies side the maids?

My Reply to Comment#5:

1. Sorry, I don’t intend to promote any agencies here.
2. There are many “types” of fees to employing a domestic helper from the source country. There is the agency fee being paid to the agency. There is the maid’s loan or placement fee or overseas center payment (whatever terms they use) which is a payment made to the overseas supplier. There are other fees paid for medical, MOM e-issuance, runner, embassy, etc.
In your case of thousand plus payment, it would seem like a “top up” on the maid’s loan for the next maid. The free part is that you don’t have to pay the agency fee again. But, you would still have to pay for the insurance, MOM e-issuance, medical etc because it is for the replacement maid. So, the amount seems in line depending on how long the existing helper has been with you. The thousand plus should be a “top up” on the number of months she was with you. Assuming a $450/month pay, she may have been with you for 3 months?
3. It is indeed a bad idea for the old maid to meet the new maid. People being people, they will definitely gossip. And gossip is never a good thing! It is very unlikely that the 2 maids won’t meet if you they belong to the same agency. What you could have done is to either have the first maid transferred first (and live without a maid for a short period of time before having the second maid) OR house the first maid in another location when the second maid is coming in.
4. Generally, you should be able to get back part of the maid’s loan. But, you would have to check the contract with the agency whether that is allowed or the conditions for that to happen.
5. That would seem to be the usual practice. The employer would have 2 maids under her name during this short transition period. Again, check your contract with the agency. Generally, you would have to give the first maid some time to transfer.
6. No, not all agencies side the maids. At the end of the day, agencies should be professional in their work. In other words, they should do what a professional should do, and that is to act in the interest of both the employers and the maids and abide by the law and MOM regulations.
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PostHeaderIcon Is it a good idea to recruit your own maid from the source country?

I got an interesting question from a reader. Here’s the specific comment:

Hi there,

I am sure you are aware of the blog “[removed by admin]”.

You would have noticed it is anti government policies and anti maid agencies. Comments by the blogger are one sided instead of being objective. Apparently she lacked indept knowledge of the maid industry. There is a section on employing maids without going through agencies. It appeared that the blogger had committed an offence by directly or indirectly engage in activities related to or connected with recruitment or helping in the recruitment process without a valid employment agency license from MOM. The blog also encouraged employers to DIY by getting maids directly from foreign supplying countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia without realizing there are strict rules in these countries to protect its citizens from human trafficking. Needless to say, that blog in non-creditable compared to your blog. What are your views?

Here are my thoughts. And, I think the above reader has a very good point, and it is very important that you give this a serious thought.

1. It is never a good idea to travel to the source country to recruit your own maid. Here’s why: you are not a licensed employment agency in the source country and it is illegal for you to recruit anybody under the countries’ human trafficking laws. Even if you are licensed in Singapore, it does not mean you can go recruiting anywhere you want. There was a recent sad case for one of our fellow agencies who got into trouble due to this. Don’t try this. You will definitely get yourself into a lot of trouble in the source country - be it the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, etc.

2. If you want to recruit someone from overseas that you know or was recommended to you by another helper, get an agency here to do a direct hire for you. Don’t do all the paperwork yourself. Here’s why: you may be able to get some piecemeal information from the Internet, but you’ll never know what is really happening on the ground. Your helper maybe held up at the airport due to certain important documents not transmitted, etc.

Secondly, if you do this too frequently, you may be deemed to be “acting” as an employment agency without a licence in Singapore. This is a grey area because the definition of an employment agency is really broad under the new framework. While I don’t think it would be an issue, why risk an investigation by MOM?

3. If you know an agency overseas, you may wish to try to get them to give you details of the helper so that you can make an application  here yourself. Again, just like in point 2, there may be hiccups you simply wouldn’t know unless you’re on the ground doing the work. Moreover, an agency would have resources to assist in the case if there are any issues in the application. Most importantly, DO NOT travel to the home country to shortlist the girls even if the licensed agency invited you over. You never know what the enforcement agencies over there will do.

4. If you’re getting an agency to do the work for you here in Singapore, make sure that your agency is duly licensed by MOM. Check the MOM EA Directory to make sure they are legal. MOM will penalize employers who use illegal agencies and it doesn’t matter that you say you’re being cheated by the agency. It is your responsibility to check.

It is not because that I work in the industry that I encourage readers not to do their own application. You can try, but be prepared for unforeseen circumstances.

In my opinion, certain work is based left to the professionals. You wouldn’t want to do a surgery on anyone if you’re not a surgeon do you?

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PostHeaderIcon Singapore-Maid.com, should I shut it down?

You know, life in Singapore isn’t easy. I think, it’s not easy for any trade, for that matter. Just look at all the new laws that came up or are coming up. A ban on alcohol consumption after 10:30pm? Hmm…

I didn’t update this blog for a long, long, long time. Sorry. Have no time - there are too many changes in the industry - just keeping up with it is a full time job. Let alone this hobby blog of mine.

However, I was surprised at the number of comments and questions from fellow Singaporeans seeking advice and asking for help. Please accept my apologies for not being able to respond on a timely manner. I understand how stressful matters pertaining to domestic workers or helpers can be.

Ask me - I know it first hand in my work ;-) But, at the receiving end from employers.

I did think about shutting down this blog, but the comments and questions from my blog visitors had me thinking again.

While I cannot promise to help everyone, I thought it may be a good idea to do “case studies” on comments or questions from readers. I will remove sensitive information but retain the important parts of the case so that you, my readers will benefit from it. Just my little contribution to society.

So do feel free to post your comments or questions, and please do not blame me if I don’t respond on time - it’s really a hobby blog and I am really busy like you are.

However, I will try my best to post some case studies - hopefully, it will benefit you or readers who come across my blog later on.

Do click around or read a little bit here and there and I hope to have an answer to your question(s).

I will try to have some updates on the industry as well.

By the way, I think some links on the site are no longer valid. If you’re looking for maid agencies accredited for good business practice by the Consumers Association of Singapore, please click on this link… and choose CaseTrust for Employment Agencies.

There are only 19 of them. Many of the agencies have opted out because it is no longer a compulsory requirement. However, these 19 are willing to hold themselves up for “punishment” by CASE if they don’t perform. So, consider giving them a shot. Also, read my article on how to use the MOM EA Directory to find an agency with a good retention rate.

I will try to update the broken links or if you’re aware of any broken links, please comment here. It’ll help me, instead of me having to look for them.

Thank you for reading.

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PostHeaderIcon How to Find a Good Maid in Singapore and New EA Rules and Regulations

Due to the changes in Employment Agency Rules and Regulations with regard to maid agencies in Singapore, I’ve not been able to update the blog - too busy ensuring compliance to the changes. My apologies for not being able to reply to your comments and questions sooner. I’ve compiled many of your questions and answers under Singapore Maid Agencies Complaints, Advice, Levy, etc. Do take a look.

I’m going to write this article as if you’re looking for a maid. The MOM has provided more tools to aid employers in their search for the “perfect” maid or Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) as a result of the new EA rules and regulations.

A few things to note before we cover how to search for a good maid using the MOM EA Directory. A disclaimer: using the tools doesn’t mean you’ll definitely find the “perfect” maid. It just makes your chance a little better. It is also not a recommendation for any agency.

With that, do note that the MOM has restricted the fee the maid has to pay the agency to 2 months for 2 years of service to the employer. Also note that the Indonesian Embassy has enforced a minimum pay of S$450/month and 4 days off/month and the Philippines Embassy has enforced a minimum pay of USD400/month and 4 days off/month. However, with effect from 1 January 2013, all new maids contracted shall be given 4 days off in accordance to MOM rules, and any day-off cancelled shall be compensated at monthly salary/26 days x days-off cancelled or replaced with a rest day in the same month. The MOM did not dictate any minimum monthly salary.

What does all this mean to you, the employer? It means you will have to bear the “maid’s loan”. You can no longer deduct the salary against the maid’s loan like in the past. The difference shall be paid to the agency as the agent’s fee and it is in the range of $1,300 - $1,600 or more, depending on the agency. The rest will be covered by the maid paying 2 months’ salary to the agency.

In addition, you will have to deal with your maid (actually, I prefer the term “helper”, and I shall use helper from here onwards) going on days off. If you cancel the day off, you will either have to compensate the girl at monthly salary/26 calendar days x number of days-off cancelled or give her a replacement day-off in the month in which the day-off was cancelled. Failing to do so will subject you to a maximum fine of $5,000 and a maximum jail term of 6 months. This is serious. You must comply.

While MOM does not dictate the minimum wage of the girls, the embassies of the girls’ home countries have done so. Do you, as the employer, have to comply with that? The answer is preferably. This is because the embassies of Indonesia and the Philippines are enforcing their rules and they are blacklisting maid agencies and employers who do not comply with them. If you need the help of helpers from these countries, you are better off complying with their rules. This is especially so if you are getting new helpers from these countries.

Moreover, under the new regulations, there is no need for maid agencies to be accredited. They will come directly under the purview of the Commissioner of EA. In my opinion, going to agencies which remain accredited to the Consumers Association of Singapore is a “safer bet” because you can still complain to CASE if you have an issue with the agency.

Given the above, you have more to lose if you do not find a good helper in the first round. With this in mind, the MOM has come up with a EA Directory where all licensed agencies are listed. As a side note, anyone going to an unlicensed agency is also liable to a fine and jail term. So, before going to any agency, it is always a good idea to check whether they are listed in the MOM EA Directory.

Click here to visit the MOM EA Directory (opens in new window). Now, we are going to use the MOM EA Directory to search for a “good” maid agency and hopefully, end up with a “good” maid.

1. Name of Employment Agency - leave blank (we are trying to search all agencies which fit certain criteria)

2. Employment Agency Licence Number - leave blank (we are trying to search all agencies which fit certain criteria)

3. Type of workers that EA places - click on Foreign domestic workers (FDW) because we are searching for maid agencies

4. Select district(s) - put a tick in all the boxes (again, we are searching all agencies based on certain criteria)

5. Advanced Search - click on Show (this is where we click on the criteria we want)

Advanced Search

We are using the following criteria because if you choose a few very restrictive criteria, you will either not have a single agency or enough agencies to choose from. I will explain why we choose certain figures.

1. Years since licence was issued - click on >5 years. If an agency can survive more than 5 years, they should be doing something right. Again, we are trying not to be too restrictive or your choices will be greatly reduced.

2. FDW Placement Volume - click on > 200. FDW Placement Volume is a moving 12 months average of the number of FDWs placed out by the agency. Any agency with > 200 placements is considered “major” by the MOM and has to place a higher security deposit with the MOM. This ensures that the agency is “serious” about their work. Again, if you choose too high a figure, it will greatly restrict your choices. You can try and see what you get.

3. Show only EAs with no demerit points - click on Yes. Needless to say, you only want agencies with no demerit points. These agencies are complying with MOM regulations.

4. FDW Retention success rate - click on >50. This is by far the most important criterion. But, you will have to read it together with #2 FDW Placement Volume. FDW Retention success rate means the percentage of helpers who remained employed with the same employer for 12 months or more. If an agency has a 50% retention rate, every 1 in 2 helpers is likely to work with the employer for 12 months or more. Again, a greater than 50% retention rate is actually quite outstanding in the industry. But, the placement volume has to be big enough to be significant. >200 would be a good measure to start off with since MOM deems that as a a criterion for an agency to place a higher security deposit.

5. FDW Transfer rate - click on 0-10. FDW Transfer rate refers to the percentage of helpers which the agency has placed out for 3 times or more. In other words, the same helper was transferred from 1 employer to another for 3 times or more. Basically, it may be an indication of whether the agency is trying to “bank roll” the maid and multiply out their profits on the same maid on different employers. Ideally, it should be zero (but less than 1 or even 2 is fine, so that you have more choices) because a “bad” helper shouldn’t be passed around from 1 employer to another just to multiply profits. But, then again, it may not be the girl’s fault. We don’t know for sure. You can read more about this maid agency scam (opens in new window) - scroll down to read 3. Customer multiplier effect to save yourself from this problem.

Then, click <Submit>. On the results page, click on View max 50 records per page. This will show all the agencies meeting the above criteria in 1 page. From here, you may wish to Google the agency’s name and do further research on them. See whether they have testimonials, etc. It would be a good idea to visit 3-5 agencies so that you can make a comparison about their people and their service.

Please note that you can “play around” with the above criteria and see what you can get out of it. But, I think the above criteria should be pretty useful to start off with.

In my opinion, it is also a good idea to do 1 more step. And, that is to see if they are accredited by the Consumers Association of Singapore for Good Business Practice. At least, if things don’t work out, you can complain about them to CASE. CASE has a mediation centre which will help you recover your money from the errant agencies, especially if they are accredited by CASE. Most agencies will return the money if they are CASE accredited because they wouldn’t want to lose their accreditation and reputation.

Click here to see CASE accredited maid agencies (new window opens). Then at Accreditation Type, click on CaseTrust for Employment Agencies.

By doing the above, it means that you are looking at maid agencies that have met the above criteria. It doesn’t mean that your helper will work out for you. Your chance will probably be better. And if your agency is CASE accredited, you are better protected should things turn sour.

So that you have more choices, be aware that not all agencies will have new Indonesian or new Filipino helpers. Some agencies may cater to the Indian market or Expat market or Malay market. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a try. You may be surprised by the result. If they are good in that market, they are probably good for any market.

Also note that some agencies may only have transfer maids. These are experienced helpers who are already in Singapore looking to change employer and many have completed their initial contract. As far as I know, these transfer maids DO NOT incur the $1,300 to $1,600 agency fee as the new maids do. The agency fee should be about $500-$800, depending on agency. Hence, you can save a significant amount of money by employing transfer maids instead of new maids. You can click on Transfer Maids (new window opens) to read more about them and see if they are suitable for your family.

With this, I hope you can find the good helper that you need. Thank you for reading.

You may also wish to read Singapore Maid Agency Recommendations for more information.

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PostHeaderIcon Maid in Singapore - the Industry…

Found this video on youtube which I thought would be very useful for employers, maids or anyone who is interested to know more about the maid industry. While the video was filmed some time ago, I feel that it is still very relevant today.

Click here to see the video on youtube…

Disclaimer: This is NOT a recommendation for the agencies mentioned in the video. You use them at your own discretion.

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PostHeaderIcon Maid Abuse? Employer Abuse? Agency Abuse? in Singapore

Singapore maid abuse? Employer abuse? Agency abuse? Thought this would make an interesting topic since I finally have some time to write (it’s school holiday for the kids finally!)

Singapore Maid Abuse?

Most of us read about the typical maid abuse cases in the newspapers. The maid may be punched in the face or scorched with boiling water, but have you ever wondered about the unreported cases? While these are not physical abuse per se, they do affect the girls’ well-being to a certain extent.

Just recently, the Philippines has tightened the “release” of girls to work as maids in other countries. From my discussions with the girls and people in the industry, many employers have picked up on this and directly or indirectly “threatened” the girl to send them back if they do not improve on their work or if they did something wrong.

Some girls who were unhappy about their current jobs were also afraid to seek work with new employers for fear of “revenge” by the employers for not staying with them.

While the MOM has regulations about verbal abuse, this kind of “mental” abuse is too “intangible”. As such, quite a number of girls were distressed by the situation but were quite helpless to do anything about it.

Is this maid abuse of some form? All we can do is to appeal to the employers to think about the girl’s family back home waiting for her remittance to feed them. They are as human as we are, so shouldn’t they be given a second chance?

Employer Abuse?

Some cases I remember were: (1) a maid breaking her employer’s baby’s arm or leg; (2) a maid murdering an old lady, and (3) a maid putting bleach into the contact lens solution of her employer. I must add that these are not just abuse, they are criminal acts against the employers!

While these are rare cases, there is always a possibility that it may happen to anyone. This is especially the case if one is extremely temperamental and behaves in an aggressive manner towards the girl. Remember, they are foreign domestic workers, not slaves! They deserve respect too.

Let’s look at it this way… most of the maids do not know anyone here. Most agencies would advise them to do their best and finish their contracts. But, sometimes, something happens that just makes the girl snap. To some of them, the anger of being bullied and the thought of revenge got the better of them, and they chose to do what they did.

As such, I feel that employers should keep one eye closed to certain matters and not “push it”. You really wouldn’t know what is the limit of each maid, and you definitely do not want to find out. It is a balancing act, no doubt, but a necessity, especially if you leave your young children in the girl’s care while the family is out to work.

Agency Abuse?

Sometimes, I feel that the maid agencies in Singapore have the toughest role to play. We are highly regulated by the MOM and at the same time, many employers are “perfectionists” who wants all the maids to work out perfectly - a little bit of problem, they will complain first.

Moreover, some employers really look down on people working in maid agencies, as if we are some form of low life. In actual fact, we are providing a much needed service to the community. How else can many Singaporeans go to work when there is no helper at home to help out with taking care of the children and household chores?

There is a Chinese saying that there is no “cheap” or “expensive” job, but whether you do a good job.

I venture to say that many maid agencies in Singapore are probably doing their best to serve the community. However, people have to understand that many of our foreign domestic workers are new to you and Singapore, and they may not know your way of doing things. As such, please do not “abuse” the agencies if things do not work out your way.

All in all, I feel that all three parties - the maid, the employer and the agency really have to put in an effort to make the stay of the maid in Singapore pleasant while making sure that the employers’ needs are met. As for the agency, I am thankful if a day goes by without complaints from the employers…

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PostHeaderIcon Singapore Maid Agency Recommendation - an update

I was asked about the outcome of my post “The Only Maid Agency I Will Ever Recommend is…” It was a post in February 2010.

Since CNY, I did not meet up with my friend who was supposedly looking for a maid. She sort of “forced” me to recommend a maid agency to try. Quite frankly, I don’t like to recommend any agency simply because not all maids will work out for all employers.

But, in that post, I was “arm twisted” to recommend one for her to try. That agency was so-called recommended because they really have a lot of testimonials from happy customers.

I was not sure whether she even tried that agency. Nevertheless, I called her up so that I can update my blog. I got a little bit of time today.

She told me not to put anything personal down, and I agreed. One reader asked which agency it was because there were two starting with the number “1″ in the CASE recommended list, and how to get to the website for more information.

Click on this link to go to CASE list, and then click on the first agency with the name “121″. The link there brings you to their website for more information.

(Disclaimer: you use any agency at your own risk. This article and the February article are NOT recommendations for that agency. I just report what I see and know. You decide your own action.)

So coming back…

Actually, I was quite surprised that my friend actually approached that agency because she did not indicate that she was looking for a maid during CNY. I asked why she never use my agency. She said she likes to keep certain things P and C from friends. I can understand that.

Anyway, I asked her whether the maid is working out for her or not.

She said one word. “Yes!”

She was very happy with her maid. In fact, she recommended her friend to that agency and it was working out for her friend as well.

I told her that they were lucky twice over. Normally, the friend who was recommended the agency won’t work out.

She said that that agency is really professional and is the most upfront agency she had ever used. She called them up expecting them to reject servicing her because that agency specializes in maid recruitment for expatriate families in Singapore.

The staff was upfront that they don’t have new Indonesian maids because for expatriates, they need experienced maids who can speak English. Moreover, these experienced maids prefer to have Sundays off, and may not be suitable if no days-off are offerred.

My friend was somewhat disappointed, but she decided to give it a try because that agency has many testimonials from happy customers. She also thought that it may be worth while to give days off to attract a good experienced maid.

The staff asked her about her needs and arranged “live” interviews for her to meet the girls face to face. My friend liked this part because she can actually see the person she was going to employ and can judge whether she likes that person or not. It is indeed different from employing new Indon maids where you talk to them over the webcam only.

She found that the agency really made an effort to match her needs as closely as possible according to their matching system. 1 or 2 maids were a little off, but overall, she was pleased with the quality of the girls she met.

I asked her what she didn’t like about the agency. She said it was sometimes difficult to get them on the phone. Maybe they were too busy. But, ultimately, they will try to call her back when she left voice messages.

What other bad things to say about the agency? She said the office is a bit small and it can be quite crowded because there can be a few employers and maids in the office when she dropped by.

Another negative point was that her friend complained to her that the agency forgot a form for her to sign and she had to go back to sign.

I asked her what she likes or finds different about the agency. She said the staff are not sales type of people, they just say things as they are. They are also very thorough on explaining the forms and procedures. Most importantly, she said, according to her woman instinct, she felt that the agency is honest.

I asked her how many stars does she give them, assuming 5 stars is the highest rating. She said 3.5 stars.

I asked why. She said 5 stars is impossible because that means perfect. 4.5 stars is too high because the real test is when the maid does not work out - does the maid agency service you as well as a new customer and not “hide” from you. Her maid is working out well.

Then, why not 4 stars? She said no agency can have all the maids work out for all employers, and so she felt that 3.5 stars is good enough for a maid agency.

And so, I rest my case…

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PostHeaderIcon So, You Are Unhappy with Your Maid Agency?

It’s been a while since I write a post, and I do apologize if I didn’t response to your comments or emails. This is more like a hobby/passion blog, so I only write when I have a little bit of time. After all, like you, I am a full-time home maker and office worker. It’s busy, busy, busy…

I received an email from a reader about her maid agency (which is casetrusted) who cheated on the bio-data and provided poor services to her. The matter was brought up to CASE, and after a mediation session, she was still unable to get her money back. She was then advised by CASE to bring the matter up to the small claims tribunal.

While I do not have the full details to the case - it is always a case by case basis when there are disputes - I will attempt to give some guidelines or ideas as to how anyone with disputes with their maid agency can resolve the issue.

Needless to say, the first thing you must do is “prevention”. While there are many accredited agencies, there are still “bad eggs” in the basket. What really, really counts is the culture of the company. And, it always invariably starts at the top.

This, again, is a very hard thing to judge. But, you can always start by avoiding agencies who have bad feedbacks on the Internet. Again, bear in mind that people tend to “bash” agencies up when things didn’t work out. So, do read what you find with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, if the agency you have chosen wasn’t “bashed up”, then your chance should be a little bit better.

Invariably, you will find that agencies which were “bashed up” have refused to refund their customers. That is why people spread bad news about them. Generally, people will let matter rest if they get their refund. For me, I have better things to do than to blog bad things about these agencies if they have returned my money to me.

While avoiding bad agencies is a way to start, you should also consider the agencies with outstanding (not just good), but outstanding feedbacks. Like my agency ;-)  My boss’ policy has always been “no unhappy customers”. Even during my course for my MOM certificate, the MOM officer also told us to simply give the money back if your employers are unhappy. This will solve many problems for MOM, the employers and the agencies.

So, you see, it is always the agency boss and the company’s culture that will have an impact on whether you will get your money back. This, I must say is very, very difficult to see when you visit a maid agency even if it is recommended by your friends.

Coming back to my reader’s issue, I am actually quite surprised that she was unable to get her money back because ALL Casetrust agencies have a standard contract whereby the agency has to refund any unused maid’s loan. She should be able to get this portion back.

If she is talking about the agency fee and insurance premium, then those are different matters.

Let’s talk about the insurance premium first. Generally, if you return a maid within a 6 month’s period, there will be some pro-rata refund from the insurance company.

As for the agency fee, it is difficult to say. After all, the agency has already done the work for you even though it is not up to your expectation. It is like having a sales person making your customers unhappy, but you still have to pay him his monthly pay. But, you can always build a case for it and “fight it out” in CASE or small claims tribunal.

It’s been my experience that if our maids do not work out with our clients even after subsequent attempts to counsel them and find replacements, my boss is extremely happy to give a full refund of the agency fee and the unused maid’s loan. The maid insurance is pro-rated from the insurance company. That will solve the problem for everyone. Unfortunately, not all agencies think the same way. (By the way, I am not trying to sell my agency, it’s just a remark.)

What if all else fails? What else can you do to get your money back?

If you have complained to MOM, CASE and bring the matter up to the small claims tribunal, then, I think that you have basically exhausted all avenues. But, if you wish to push the case further, consult a lawyer on the case and see if you can “fight it out” in court or explore other alternatives.

In conclusion, I can only say that you will have to choose your agency carefully, not only in terms of good maids, but also consider whether the agency is likely to refund you. After all, the agency may have good maids, but not all maids may work out for everybody. As such, it is important that the company is not “money hungry” and is willing to give you a full refund. Perhaps, someone religious? But then again, you can read what is happening to charitable organizations in the news…

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