PostHeaderIcon Ask Your Questions Here

If you’ve any questions for me, please click on some of the tags to the right-hand side or check out some of the posts for the answers or take a look at “Answers to Your Questions” just under the green banner to your right. Please bear in mind that rules and regulations do change, and anything pertaining to figures/numbers may be outdated by the time you read the posts, but “common sense” information should always be relevant.

If you cannot find the answers, you can click on Comments below and write your questions. Please do not include your personal details like full name, address, NRIC, etc. This is to protect your privacy.

While I cannot guarantee I will be able to reply on a timely basis, I will gather the questions and post the replies in the blog in time to come. I hope you appreciate that I’m doing this as a little contribution to society. Please do not blame me or call me names if I didn’t reply in time. Just like you, I’m also busy, busy. Another disclaimer is that I write what I think is the correct answer, I cannot be responsible for any outcome when you act upon my advice. As always, please seek professional advice before you act or don’t act.

Thank you.

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44 Responses to “Ask Your Questions Here”

  • Mrs Tan says:

    Hello,
    I find your blog very interesting and would like to ask you a question about my case.

    We got a new maid not long ago from a well known agency. Everthing was ok until we notice that small amount of money starts to disappear. Like $1 coin is gone, then twenty cents, etc. We have 2 young boys and they say they didn’t steal any money from our coin box. Do you think we should confront the maid? If she really steal and we send her back to the agency, can we get a replacement or get our money back? Thank you.

  • admin says:

    Hi Mrs Tan,
    There are a few things for you to consider:

    1. I would advise my clients to not let their valuables be easily seen or accessible to the FDW (foreign domestic worker). If no one else is at home, it is advisable to lock up the rooms, cupboards etc. Firstly, the girl will have no chance to steal if her character is questionable. Secondly, you will not be suspicious of her since she has no chance to steal. This will help remove a lot of guessing, suspicion and misunderstanding.

    2. By confronting the maid, I supposed you’re going to ask whether she stole the money and ask to check her bags. This is a sensitive matter because nobody wants to be accused as the thief, whether she is or isn’t. If she is innocent, it is very likely that she will be offended and you will lose the worker. If she is a good worker, it would be a waste since it is difficult to find a good maid.

    If she is guilty, you can choose to either give her a chance or send her back to the agency. Either way, I will suggest giving her a chance (since the amount is small) and not make a police report. Making a police report will have some “admin” issues for you as well as the girl will have to remain in Singapore until the investigation is completed. This will take some time.

    I am assuming that this is a misunderstanding and that she is a good worker. If so, going forward, you should lock up all your valuables and perhaps warn her indirectly about other maids who stole and were sent to prison by the police. Do this in a very “smooth” manner so that she won’t feel something is wrong and not affect the relationship.

    3. Assuming that you send her back to the agency, generally, many packages would have a replacement within a certain time period. It is unlikely that you’ll get the agency fee back if you get a replacement. But, you can get part of the maid insurance back if it is under 6 months. There will also be other one-time costs like MOM fees, new maid insurance, etc. for the new replacement maid.

    I hope this answers your question. Thank you.

  • Mrs Anders says:

    Hi! Your blog is a great resource and I figured you might have some insight into my situation.

    I’ve recently signed a contract with an EA to employ an FDW. During the contract signing and in the contract itself, placement fee was deemed at 1-month worth of FDW salary. Now 4 days later, they have called me up saying that it is actually 2 months worth of salary. As this is not in the verbal notification or contract I feel very cheated, and therefore told them that I will not pay for the additional cost as it was not part of the original agreement. She then proceeded to say that
    1) we can change the contract in the office
    2) she will contact the FDW and see if my future FDW will pay for it as it was an agreement between the FDW and the agency.

    Shouldn’t the agency waive it considering it’s their fault instead of penalising the FDW or employer (me)? Is there a way for me to make a complain against the agency?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.

  • admin says:

    Hi Mrs Anders,
    Thank you for your question. While I don’t have the full details of your case, here are some points for your consideration.

    First, I suppose you are employing a transfer FDW. Under MOM regulations, the EA is allowed to charge the FDW a maximum of 2 months’ worth of salary as placement fee for the girl. Generally, this amount is to be paid by the FDW and not the employer. Unless, you’re paying on her behalf and getting the money back via salary deduction, then your case would make sense to me. So, this is one point for your consideration. Are you supposed to pay for the FDW and get back the money via salary deduction? Or, did you offer to pay for the FDW and bear the cost for her? I am not sure what your arrangement is.

    Second, if your placement fee is actually the agency fee which you’re supposed to pay and it is pegged to 2 months’ of the FDW’s salary, then the FDW is not supposed to bear any of that cost. Again, I don’t have the full details, so you’ll have to take that into your consideration.

    Third, if your contract is already signed and the placement fee has already been agreed at 1-month of the FDW salary in the contract (which seems to be the case here), then that contract will prevail over all verbal contract. I’m not a lawyer, but the MOM will go on black and white than verbal agreement. You can refuse to change the contract and the EA should adhere to the contract, unless there are some terms in the contract to void it if there is an error in pricing. As far as I know, the standardized contract does not have a clause like that.

    Fourth, I am not sure if your future FDW has signed any agreement with the EA to pay 2 months of her salary as placement fee.It is probably a verbal agreement, if any. So, it is hard for the EA to hold her to it.

    In my opinion, the EA should waive it since the contract has been signed and you have the right to refuse to change the contract. If the EA is under the purview of the Consumers Association (ie accredited by CASETrust), then you can bring the matter up to CASE. If not, I suppose you can bring the matter to MOM. But, before you do that, tell the EA your intention to do so. Give them a chance. I think to prevent trouble, they will probably agree to your signed contract.

    I hope this helps.

  • Rachal says:

    Should I give my maid a second chance for going out without my knowledge on her working day and staying out for a night while we were on holiday . Thanks

  • admin says:

    Hi Rachal,
    Actually, this is a pretty common problem among employers going for holiday. It definitely didn’t happen to you alone. I’ve seen worse cases where the girl invited her friends to party in the employer’s house. Some had a tryst in the employer’s house even, and the employer even caught them red-handed!

    I will answer your question in 2 parts. One to benefit employers who are going away on holiday and two, some points to consider for your question.

    Here are some points to consider if you’re going away on holiday:

    1. You may wish to have the agency or your relative house the girl in your absence. This will ensure that your property will not be exposed to unnecessary danger such as having strangers entering your house. There will also be someone to watch over the girl so that she will not engage in illegal activities such as doing part-time house cleaning, etc. This is definitely safer than having the girl stay at home with “unlimited access” to your property.

    2. If your trip is a very short 1-2 days trip, you can consider locking your place and have your girl stay in your house. But, make sure that she has sufficient food and water. You may also wish to pass your keys to your neighbour in case of fire or other accidents.

    3. If the helper is staying back to take care of your children, pets or the elderly, then this will be a very serious misconduct (please see below).

    In my opinion, it is best to spend a little money and have the agency house the helper in your absence.

    Coming back to your question. Here are some points to think about:

    1. How serious was the offence? Did she have young children, pets, elderly to care for during your absence? If so, I will deem her a very irresponsible helper, and I may not give her a chance. Any responsible helper would not endanger their charges like that. Sometimes, an error like that can really endanger the children, pets or the elderly.

    2. Was she very sorry for her misconduct or was she defiant even though she was wrong? If she was very sorry and kept apologizing for her misdeed, I may think about it particularly if she had done well all along.

    3. How was her work performance and behaviour all along? Was this her first major mistake?

    Let’s say that she didn’t have any children in her charge and that she was very sorry for her misdeed (and it’s her first major mistake) and she has well-behaved and had done her work well all along, I will give her a very serious warning and let her know that it is her first and final chance, there won’t be a second chance for any other major misconduct.

    Further, I will warn her not to bring men or her friends home or I will make a police report for trespassing. I will give other examples of misconduct which I will dismiss her service. I will highlight to her that she had made a grave mistake and if she values her job, she has to behave better.

    I hope this helps. Thank you.

  • leon says:

    Hi there Admin,

    My main question - (is the DH allowed to leave her biodata with more that 1 agency to search for a new employer?)

    STORY…

    –I happen to know this DH as she found my wallet and returned it to me.
    *Grateful.
    –Handed her $150 but she flatly turned it down.
    –Realize she stays nearby and walks the dog daily.
    –After numerous times of chit-chat during dog walking, realize her employer
    isnt treating her very well (14-16hrs workload and +++)

    –Her passport was meant to be renewed afew months before expiration but her
    employer kept delaying till she has not enough time to get it renewed.
    (as it takes about 3mths for a new passport to be sent to SGP from PHP)
    (passport expire : oct 2015)
    –Her VISA/work permit expires end of August 2015.
    –Now she is at a loss and seeks my advice.
    (but i too have no knowledge in this field and feel so helpless…)

    –She says she doesnt want to go back PHP as coming back to SGP will incur
    afew months of salary deduction. =(
    –Transfer to another employer while she is still in SGP maybe 1month salary
    deduction

    –Her current employer had already signed on for another maid and the new maid
    coming in another month or so.

    –What would be the best solution for her now?

    Kindly Seeking your advice on this matter.
    I would really like to help her and pay it forward to her for her honesty & attitude.

    I think she deserves better.

    Its pityful & heart wrecking…(as time is tight)
    p/s: if u dont mind, could u drop me an email as well.

    Loads of Thanks

  • admin says:

    Hi Leon,
    It is very kind of you to help the girl. Here are some points to note:

    1. It is okay for her to leave her bio-data with a few agencies. There is no law against this. This is similar to when we are looking for jobs, we will leave our resumes with a few head hunters or companies.

    2. She will have to renew her passport before she can be employed by a new employer because the MOM will not approve her application if she only has a few months left in the validity of her passport. A minimum of 7 months is required.

    3. Since the passport is expiring in October 2015 and it is now end June 2015, and she needs 3-4 months to renew her passport (which takes us to September or October 2015), and her work permit is expiring in August 2015, it is an impossible deadline to meet. Even if the current employer is willing (but, in this case, they are probably not), they can request to extend her work permit for up to 2 months. Even with that, the deadline is still very tight.

    4. Since her current employer already has a girl coming, it is very likely that the girl will be cancelled and sent home. Given the passport expiry and the impossible deadline, I’m afraid there is nothing that can be done to help her.

    From the looks of things, the current employer has no intention of keeping her right from the outset. Moreover, whether the FDW can seek re-employment is also very much dependent on the “approval” of the current employer because without it, the FDW’s work permit can be cancelled, and she will still have to be sent home.

    I’m sorry, this case is really heart-breaking and pitiful, but there really is nothing much we can do about it.

  • Srini says:

    Hired a maid through agency named xxxxx Employment services (Hope name gets published… so that other employers will be aware). Agency cheated by arranging interview with someone else not the one that we hired, for whatever be the reason. The maid came home and left to agency in one day. We paid two months maid loan. Now agency placed the maid with some other employer and refusing to repay the maid loan that we have paid. This agency is a cheating agency, we have already complained to CASE.

  • admin says:

    Hi, I am sorry, I cannot have any rogue agencies’ names here because I cannot verify any information given by the reporter.

    For your case, it is a bait and switch. Did you tell the agency that they have gotten the wrong girl for you? Do you have a replacement maid if the first maid has left your employ?

    No matter what, it seems to me that the agency is out to cheat consumers because, generally, no girl come and go in one day and there is no refund given to you. It is just not right. To “pin” them to their crimes, it is very important that you have your service contract because that is the proof to any breaches. Hope this helps.

  • Rishi says:

    Hi,

    We hired a maid in Oct’14 when she was already there in Singapore for two months but we paid full agency fee. The time of hiring agency told she is here for less than a month but we recently came to know she was employed for two months. So we want to know are we eligible to get some agency fee refund because she was in transfer and stayed in Singapore for two months ? What I know in Singapore if you hire a new fresh maid then only you pay full agency fee but if she is already here then you pay half or less.

    Please advise.

  • admin says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for your question. I am not too clear on your definition of full agency fee. If you’re talking about the agency fee per se, then the agency fee will differ based on whether the girl is a transfer girl or a new girl.

    If you are talking about the maid’s loan, then the maid’s loan component should be reduced by the amount the girl has paid off via salary deduction when she has worked with her previous employer. In your case, I presume you are talking about the maid’s loan. So yes, if she has worked here for 2 months and her maid’s loan is, say 8 months, then you should only pay 6 months and not 8 months.

    If you’re made to pay 8 months, the agency is cheating you. And, you should approach the Consumers Association of Singapore for help.

    Thank you.

  • carrie says:

    Hi,
    Our maid’s work permit is rejected by MOM, our maid agent help us to appeal for 2 times but the result still rejected. We have a deposit with the maid agent. So I would like to know can we get back the full amount of our deposit with the agent?

    Please advise

  • admin says:

    Thank you for your question.

    For this, you will have to check the contract with the agent. Generally, you should be able to get a certain percentage of refund, net of any admin charges for the 2 appeals. Since the helper has never been approved, you shouldn’t be charged any maid’s loan, agency fee, etc. But, you will probably be charged some admin fees for the 2 appeals. Just to clarify further.

    Hope this helps.

  • Mdm Tan says:

    Hi,

    Recently, I was a recommended a maid by an agent. My request was that she should be married and indeed her bio stated so.

    However, 2 weeks after the maid came, she was easily depressed and cried to me, saying she is a divorcee and her ex husband beat her.

    It gave my family a traumatic time because she was unable to adapt and she left after less than 2 months. She fired us.

    We sent her back but I checked online that the agent renew her work permit the very next day, as if she already has a job awaiting her.

    My questions are, how can we take action since her bio was untrue? And are there common cases where the agent actually have ready employer for her but make use of walk-in customers like us to pay for her administration costs to come to Singapore?

    Thank you.

  • admin says:

    Hi Mdm Tan,
    Thank you for your question. It is indeed an unfortunate case. This may be a genuine case of a maid being unable to adapt. I am not too sure about her bio being untrue. Let me explain.

    Based on the bio, she is indeed married (although thereafter, she was divorced). Sometimes, there are communication issues with overseas centres and sometimes, the girls are willing to tell part of the story and not the whole story. It is difficult to say whether the agent, the overseas centre or even the girl is lying about her marital status. They may even argue that you said she is married, but never say cannot be divorced thereafter. So, we can’t say for sure in this aspect. I suppose you have your reasons for employing a married helper. Maybe they are more stable, but it is really difficult to judge. It really depends on the girl herself and what her previous experiences were. I am not sure what action you can take in this regard. You may wish to check with CASE to help get some sort of refund or replacement, depending on your contract with the agent.

    For many of the agents, it is very expensive to simply send the girl back home (unless you cancel the girl, but normally, their contract with you will prevent that). Therefore, it is not surprising that the agent will “re-sell” the girl as a transfer girl to another family. My concern would be this girl is not likely to work out for any family because of her “drama”. But, the agent is likely to “sell and re-sell” her until they have no choice but to “sell” her to another country if Singapore doesn’t work out.

    As for the part of “making use of you”, it is a possibility. If you look at the state of the maid industry now, you will realise that the quality of the girls now are not as good as before and the embassies are coming in with a lot of demands. Supply can be an issue for many agents if they are not “selling”. So, for many, they just have to push the sale first and then transfer them later or “re-sell” them to other countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Saudi after “stamping Singapore” (meaning better girls since they are trained in “fussy Singapore”). You can read my article on “Maid Industry Scams” for more details. In short, I am really not sure how you can prove they are “doing the scam”. It can be a genuine case of “doesn’t work out”.

    Nevertheless, consumers can always protect themselves to a certain extent.

    To prevent consumers from “falling into” such schemes, the MOM has come up with the EA Directory to show the retention rates of the helpers staying with an employer for more than 1 year (among other things - demerit points, years in the industry, etc), and there is also an Accreditation Scheme for Good Business Practice by the Consumers Association of Singapore. Unfortunately, not many agents are accredited because it is a rigorous checking process on the agents’ practices.

    To protect yourself, maybe you should only deal with CASE accredited agencies (you can check CASE website) and then shortlist them and do further research at the MOM EA Directory on their retention rates, demerit points, etc.

    Hope this helps.

  • Ms Li says:

    Hello, I have a question regarding which regulatory/government agencies I can contact regarding a complaint against a FDW agency.

    A few weeks back, our FDW of about 4 months ran away with another FDW (presumably her friend). After some drama, we settled it and returned her to the agency. We decided not to accept a free replacement from the agency (as we realized the standards of their FDWs were quite atrocious, bio-datas did not tally and they were not honest, always telling us the FDWs spoke basic English when in actual fact they couldn’t even tell a chair from a fridge).
    Recently we discovered that this FDW had previously made long distance calls from our house phone back to her home country and the cost amounts up to $150-$200. We contacted the agency with the intention of claiming back this sum from the FDW (this FDW is still in Singapore, we had signed a transfer as we did not want to forgo the balance loan), however the agency is stalling with excuses like the FDW may not have money to pay and etc. We have good reason to believe that the agency does not want to let the new employer know how problematic this FDW was, or that she actually conspired to run away with someone else, hence the excuses, however we find this practice rather morally unsound and unprofessional. The agency has also become rather rude in their replies to us. Is there any regulatory office with which we could lodge a complaint against the FDW agency? It’s not so much a matter of the money but rather the principle and the fact that the agency has not been helpful during the whole drama saga and now. They have been nonchalant and displayed a whole “hands off” attitude despite the fact that this FDW was supplied and recommended by them.

    Would greatly appreciate your answer, thank you!

  • admin says:

    Hi Ms Li,
    I’m so sorry to hear of your case. I can understand where you’re coming from. The principle is very important in business and in life.

    I will provide a point of view from the different parties and then give you my recommendations.

    Firstly, the FDW is probably home sick and not ready to work here in Singapore. Yet, at the same time, she is too ashamed to return home (probably due to the loans owing to the home country maid agency). I would say she is very irresponsible and immature. Not someone whom you would want to employ. And, she is probably not suitable to be transferred to another employer.

    Secondly, the maid agency doesn’t want to lose any money on the FDW. This explains why they would want to transfer her to another employer. It’s about the money. However, I feel that they could have done better. If they choose to, they can repay the phone bill for the FDW first and then claim from her or write it off. But, it is up to them.

    I am not sure if you have any other claims against the agency. Like a free replacement (which you didn’t want) or some sort of refund (not likely), etc. You can check your recruitment contract with them. It would seem like you have fulfilled your part of the contract and they have also fulfilled their part of the contract, except that the girl didn’t work out. However, they wanted to give you a free replacement which you rejected. So, it would seem that there is no obligation from either party. However, there should be a “balance loan” which the FDW has not paid off which you can use for the free replacement. I’m not sure if your recruitment contract allows a refund on this. Typically, it is not refundable because it is very risky for any maid agency to do so. The cost of bringing a FDW from overseas is very high.

    Next, is the cost of the long distance calls. That would have been owing to you from the FDW. And, it doesn’t have anything to do with the agency. But, if they choose to, the agency can repay you on the girl’s behalf as mentioned earlier.

    I can see why the agency couldn’t care less because it would seem like legally they have done no wrong in your case. There are basically 3 things you can do.

    1. You can suggest that the agency pay on the girl’s behalf first and claim from the girl later, and then, you will close the case (if you choose to). If they refuse, you can “threaten” them that you will bring the matter up to the MOM and the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).

    2. Call either the MOM or CASE first and see if they can assist you and give you any other advice. It would be good if you have some sort of black and white proof of the agency’s wrong doings.

    3. Probably get CASE to do a mediation (generally, MOM doesn’t get involved in this sort of mediation). You will have to join CASE as a member for a small sum and they will arrange for a mediation session between you and the agency.

    I hope this helps. Thank you.

  • Rudy says:

    Hi, I would like your advice on the following matter.

    I previously changed maids after having tried for nine months. In the contract with the agency I had the option for one replacement. I found the replacement myself and the agency helped with the paper work. However, the agency did not help me with a contract between me and the new maid. As a reason the agency shared with me that I found the replacement myself and didn’t choose one of the agency’s candidates.

    Besides the above, my new maid is asking for a paper sealed by the Philippines’s embassy, which is required by the maid when she is travelling to her home country. I didn’t receive such a document for the first maid.

    My questions are:
    1) To what extent is the agency helping with the paperwork responsible for the contract between maid and employer in the case of a transfer with the new maid found by the employer.

    2) Should the agency as part of the service provided also arranged for the sailed document required by the maid to travel to the Philippines?

    Thanks a lot.

  • admin says:

    Hi Rudy,
    Sorry for the late reply. After the MOM come up with the Trustmark project, I’ve been busy, busy. To answer your questions:

    1) Generally, if the agency is helping with the transfer (even if you’ve found the replacement), they should provide the employment contract between you and the maid. However, it is not likely they will provide a guarantee on the girl you found on your own (depends on your agreement with them).

    2) I suppose that the document is for home leave. Generally, home leave is not part of the maid employment package. You will have to make payment separately for the home leave.

    Hope this helps. Thank you.

  • Wilson Chua says:

    Hi, our Burmese maid who has worked with us for 1.5 years returned home last year as her mother fell ill. Since her mother has recovered, she has requested us to bring her back here without going through an agency. We are happy with her working attitude.

    Kindly advice the procedures/steps for bringing back our ex-FDW.

    Thank you!

  • Wilson Chua says:

    To add-on, i mean the procedures/steps at MOM and also if i need to register my ex-FDW at Myanmar Embassy?

  • admin says:

    Hi, thank you for your question. I’ll advise that you seek the service of an agency. It can get messy if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of the embassy and immigration. You can find some good agencies on CASE website. If something goes wrong, you can go to CASE for help. If you use MOM website, go for zero demerit points, more than 10 years experience, etc.

    Make sure that the agency does not charge your helper any maid’s loan, etc. It is not right to do so. Further, the agency should only charge you for direct hire fees and related travelling expenses, WPOnline fee, etc. You shouldn’t be making any salary deduction, etc. Any fees charged to you should be one-time and relate directly to your “direct hire” of your helper.

    Thank you.

  • Joy says:

    few questions seek your advice:
    1/ the agency that we are going to engage, requested upfront helper loan for 7 mth. is this make sense to you?
    2/ the current helper requested to go home after 1 year working with us. Why do i need to cover the airfare for her since she is one requested go homer herself before the 2-yr contract term end?
    3/ Do the agent has the right to retain the upfront load should the maid leave before 7 mths loan period or i can get back the refund should i not request for the replacement from them?
    4/ i see that most ppl only pay for 2-3 mths upfront loan, do you have the contact of those agency that you can share with me privately to my email. I would like to go with those agency instead with the one that charge for 7-8 mths upfront loan.
    thank you

  • Ami says:

    Hi, (Ami’s Case)

    We like to employ a helper who is still currently under contract with another employer. Her current employer said that they will release the helper only if we (the new employer) pay them half of what they paid to the agency.

    If we do not agree to that, the helper will choose to go home instead but then her current employer will not pay for her air ticket. The employer reasoned that they have already paid for the helper’s air ticket last Chinese New Year and so they will not pay for the helper’s air ticket now.

    My questions are:
    1. What are the rules regarding release of helpers? Employers can choose not to release their helpers for transfer?
    2. Should the helper pay for her own air ticket or this should be shouldered by her employer, even though the employer paid for her air ticket for vacation last Feb?
    3. If we do not want to pay her current employer, what else can we do now as we really want to hire this helper?

    Thanks!

  • Paddy says:

    Dear Sir,

    I had booked a fresh maid from Bangalore (India) thru XYZ Agency (Edited). They did not do any due diligence on the maid and the maid happened to have been in Singapore and was deported back due to a theft case. However, this maid had changed her passport and had applied back and as layman, we did not know this information, Our agency did not find out this information either. However, Ministry of Manpower called us to inform that this maid was in Singapore and was sent back as she stole valuables from her previous employer’s place. The maid agency had collected from us SGD 1346/- for processing this maid for us. After knowing that we dropped this maid, they refused to return the amount we had paid them towards processing. Neither did they find a replacement maid for us. They have been dodging us for 3 months now. Also, I have a very bad feedback about this agency. They don’t have good maids and they don’t do even scrutinize the maids before getting us to interview them. Previous to this, they had given us a transfer maid stating she is an excellent worker and when this maid came home, she did not even know basic cooking nor she knew how to keep the house clean. We tried her for 2 months but, she did not learn and was not willing to learn. We had to spend money to send her back home and the Agency did not help us in any way to replace either. This is the third maid with them and the previous 2 maids they sent were useless. Such agencies should not exist and their license (Edited) should be cancelled. They are only cheating innocent people by taking their money. Please let me know how I can recover this money from this agency.

    Thank you,
    Paddy (Edited)

  • admin says:

    Hi,
    So sorry for the late reply. To answer your questions:

    1. The release of a helper to a new employer is subject to the previous employer signing the release letter. If the previous employer does not agree, the helper cannot change to a new employer and has to return to her home country. This is a MOM requirement.

    2. The employer should always bear the cost of repatriation. This is a MOM requirement.

    3. There is no rule on your having to pay the previous employer anything. They are just trying to minimize their losses (I suppose). It is up to you whether you want to do so or not. My advice is you are probably better off choosing another helper. This helper’s previous employer is giving you too much trouble. You probably wouldn’t want to deal with people like that. It is possible that they may cause further trouble after the helper has changed over and work with you.

    Hope this helps.

  • admin says:

    Hi, (Paddy’s Case)
    So sorry for the late reply. To answer your question:

    It is unfortunate that there are unscrupulous agencies out there tainting the industry. MOM is aware of the situation and has, as such, implemented the TrustMark Scheme to “weed out” the bad agencies. Consumers will be asked to rate the agencies helping them with their cases. It would be advisable for consumers to stay with the highly rated agencies. If possible, only stay with A Grade agencies. This grading system will probably be implemented later this year. The full scheme will be implemented by late 2017.

    Whether you can recover the money will really depend on your contract with the agency. What are the conditions for refunds and replacement of your helpers?

    Since you’ve been misrepresented by the agency (the helper is unable to perform and another has committed a crime), you can bring this up to the Consumers Association of Singapore and seek their help to recover the money. You can call CASE Consumer Hotline: 6 1000 315 (Hotline Operating Hours: Mon - Fri: 9am to 5pm, Sat: 9am to 12pm) for assistance.

    Hope this helps. Thank you.

  • admin says:

    Hi, (Joy’s Case)
    I’m sorry for such a late reply. There was a lot of changes in the industry that kept us so busy. To answer your questions:

    1. The helper’s loan amount will differ from agency to agency. Part of it is to cover the overseas centre’s cost. 7 months would seem within the range.
    2. Unfortunately, this is a MOM requirement. The reason is because she is working in Singapore due to your wanting her service. If she leaves, whether it is due to you or due to her own reasons, you will have to bear the cost.
    3. This will depend on the contract between you and the agent. Generally, most agent will try not to give any refund because they have already paid the overseas supplier.
    4. It depends on the type of helper you are employing actually. Normally, new helpers will cost quite a few months due to payment to overseas supplier. If it is a transfer helper, then the maximum is 2 months of their monthly salary for a 2 years contract (MOM rule).
    Hope this helps.

  • TULIP says:

    Hi,

    Recently i had engaged a maid agency and through the recommendation, i had hired a maid that is 44 years old. However, after a day, the maid suddenly told me that she is shivering all over and she thought she could work but she can’t. As usual, i talked to the helper and asking her if she was aware that she can’t go back to her country without paying off the loan that i had paid to the agency. She answered she was not aware and her family don’t get a cent of the loan that we paid for. She then further told me that she had wasn’t told by the philippines agency much abou the loan or contract she had signed. She then said she paid for her own medical tests expenses, passport, air tickets just to fly to Manila as and when the agency called up as she doesn’t want to just stay there for months.

    Subsequently, i called the agency and told her that the maid was complaining shivering all over after a day and thought she could work but can’t and wanted to go back. Further added that she told me she wasn’t aware of the contract that she had signed being the philippine agency didnt explain to her. The local agency staff then talked to her and asked her on speaker and she also said that she wasn’t told clearly on her job contract her. The local agency staff was so mad and didnt want to continue the conversation with her.

    The next morning, the helper knew that the agency had agreed to resolve the issue next morning, she actually showed her true colours by not doing the task of getting the children to school. After i sent the children and back home the luggage was packed whereby i didnt even told her to pack nor tell her when we are leaving as i also wasn’t told by the agency on the timing.

    Subsequently later afternoon, we sent her back since she was all packed up since morning. We went down to the agency and told the boss we want our loan back and the agency fees. He agreed to proceed within 4 weeks but it was too long so we requested for 2 weeks. We told him what happened with the maid around and also the other maids in the agency. The boss was kind of worried when i told him that she told me she wasn’t paid a single cent out of the 5.5 mths loan we had paid to the agency and the worst is she paid all her expenses incurred to come her to work without being explained on the loan thingy she had signed.

    Now, 2 WEEKS passed and the boss didn’t answer my call and just text to call his partner. The partner whom was not there when we were there about the refund and just tell us off that they will based on refund for only 50% of the loan we paid with the helper only in the house for only 1 day plus. I was so pissed and i need help to resolve this dispute and get back my loan.

  • admin says:

    Hi Ms Tulip,
    I am so sorry to hear of your case. It is unfortunate that cases like yours are quite common. Sometimes, the Singapore agency is a victim themselves.
    I am not protecting anyone but speaking it as I know it. The trouble maker here could well be the helper herself. The Philippines agency is probably only interested in money, that’s all.

    I will explain what could have happened first and then explain what you can do to recover your money.

    As I understand it, the Philippines embassy does not allow the helper to be charged a cent by the Singapore agency. As such, all charges by the Singapore agency are mainly paid by the employer of the helper. The Singapore agency will then remit whatever charges to the Philippines side. Some Singapore agency may even ask the employer to pay off the Philippines side directly.

    Whatever the Philippines agency does or charges the girl, the Singapore agency is probably not informed of it.

    The thing is the helper may have changed her mind (there can be many reasons which we cannot imagine! I’ve seen more than my fair share of reasons.) and decided to go home. It can be home sick, whatever. We don’t know whether the shivering is real, unless we send her to the doctor for an examination. I’ve sent helpers to the Mental Hospital for examination, and even the doctors cannot say whether they are pretending or whether they are really mentally unsound!

    My best advice is to let the helper go home before she causes more trouble for you and your family. Yes, you will lose some money. But, I always advise my clients that money and your life - which is more important?

    As for getting back the money from the Singapore agency - it is best to look at your signed contract and see what is written there. You can bring the matter to CASE and ask them to help you. You will need to pay some money to join as member and they will assist with your case. Generally, the standard contract will provide for a 100% refund of the loan amount (you have to check your contract), especially for girls who worked very short period of time, like your case. But, some agencies may not provide for that (again, you have to check your contract). Things like agency fee, insurance, etc. should also be covered separately in the contract.

    I hope this helps. All the best in resolving your case.

  • Johnson says:

    Hi, we have gotten a maid (pinoy 1st timer in SG) from an agency in Katong Shopping center sometime in June this year. We waited for more than a month on the processes for her arrival. She arrived around end July. As she is new to SG, my wife had to teach and guide her along as we were also in the midst of moving to a new place (we moved in on 1st Aug). 1st couple of weeks was OK. One night she requested from my 8yr old daughter to ask me for the WiFi password as she needs to contact her family via FB messenger. I rejected initially as we were informed by the agency not to. However, that night, she cried in my daughter’s room (we let her sleep all by herself). My wife asked what was wrong and she said she doesn’t have money to top up her phone card and she misses her children. I gave in but with specific instructions on the usage which is only at night after she finishes her chores. Here comes nightmare. She was an avid fan of FB. We didn’t know she took selfies in our house when she’s eating. Selfies when she was out to 7-Eleven to buy bread. She spends more than 30mins to come back though it’s less than 10mins walk away from where we stay. We managed to find out she took selfies in our hall dressed up sitting on our sofa too. We kept quiet for some time and asked her to surrender her phone and only pass it to her at night. There were a few times she didn’t perform her duties well (forgetting to pick up my daughter from school). There were also times whereby my kids saw her on her phone numerous times during the day when we forgot to get the phone from her. Around 2 months later, final straw came one day when we decided to remove the password from her phone. She gave a “black” face. Less than 1hr later, she came out and said she doesn’t want to work anymore. We thought for a while and agreed to let her go since she said so.
    New maid was selected (also read bio data) via Skype interview. General questions both my wife and agency asked. We were sure she was the one as she presented herself well. She worked in Kuwait with the same family for 6 years (2007 to 2013) straight. She left for home after contract as her teenager sons missed her as she quoted. We paid the agency another fee for her employment. Process took a while, she came on 22nd Oct (even took her out for Pizza hut). We were kind of dumb founded when she didn’t knew much what to do on house keeping, cooking was bad (tasteless) and was quiet most times. It was fine as we told ourselves she’s new in SG and to our culture and that she admitted that she’s shy. With guidance from my wife, certain things need to be repeated. We even got our in-law’s Indon helper to teach her how to cook. Taught her how to mingle with our kids (8yrs girl and 10yrs boy). She watched TV with them instead. One day she was told to meet up my wife to bring back some groceries from NTUC while she needs to go pick up the kids from tuition. Wife waited for more than 20 mins for her to arrive and she was late on picking the kids due to this. She had to rush to pick them up. Helper reached but did not wait at designated place, she said she didn’t see my wife. Wife was pissed off for the wait and told her off (without raising voice). She was asked to go home first after this. Upon reaching home, wife was greeted with the helper and her luggage prepared. The reason she gave was she cannot take it that my wife told her off in public. Also that our kids don’t listen to her (that our boy told her to “go away” and answered “whatever” to her).

    We counseled her as well as gotten the agency to talk to her. She agreed to stay and continue. Also suggested to send her to the agency for training which she agreed. We made effort to speak to her that night about her job in Kuwait. Guess what? She said her job was to take care a new born for first 2 yrs. For the third to sixth year, she only needs to do cooking and nothing else, not even sweep or mop the floor!!!
    OMG! We were shocked! No wonder she does not communicate much and not even know much what to do on house keeping. Despite all these, we still thought she can be trained. The day came for us to send her to the agency for training, next day, agency called and informed she does not want to work anymore and would like to leave ASAP. Do know that is even after counseling from agency.

    Right now we’re stuck, we have to let her go in less than 1 month. Yes we may get certain amount of the loan and pro-rated insurance. But the agency fee we paid was “burned” for our case and do know we’ve already paid for the first who worked less than 2 months.
    We’re looking at aeas.org.sg and small claims tribunal to retrieve this.
    What other avenue do we have? We have spoken to the agency but they refuse to refund citing that we have already signed the agreement.
    But both times were chosen by helper that they don’t want to work anymore.

    Apologies for the long story.

  • admin says:

    Hi, I’m so sorry to hear about what had happened to your family. It is most unfortunate.

    I’ve had employers (and they are nice people like yourself) who just don’t have “luck” with the helpers. I know because I handled their cases. And, we’ve always been honest in our dealings. Whatever we know we tell so that the employers are well-informed.

    However, that is the Singapore side. We don’t really have the full story on the other side. The helper may not be telling everything you need to know. Not that she is lying, but she just tell whatever she feels like telling. It is the same for the training centres.

    Further, the helpers now are very different from 1-2 generations ago. These are the Internet, FB kids. The moment they meet some hardship or just a little thing they didn’t like, they will just pack up and go. Although their home countries may not be as advanced as Singapore, economically, they have also improved. As such, they still have a minimum standard of living acceptable to them. It is very easy for them to just back out.

    As for the maid agency, I can tell you that we’re all suffering because of the above. It is not that I side with the maid agencies. The honest ones are probably hurt by these irresponsible helpers more than ever. Unfortunately, we cannot tell who are the resilient helpers who will stay on and work things out.

    The agencies would have incurred a lot of costs to bring the helper over. Moreover, a lot of money has to be paid to the overseas suppliers. The overseas suppliers are not going to refund those money either. To be fair, the real trouble maker here, is the helper. But, she has no money to return to you. So, all of us are caught in a mess!

    I understand that the employers will have no choice but to go to CASE, small claims, etc. to try to get a refund. But, it really boils down to the contract you’ve signed with the agency. Please understand that there is a risk in all things in life (even handphones can explode!) So, good agencies will always try to work out a win-win as much as possible. But, in this situation, everybody loses except for the helper. We may want to consider cutting our losses and just move on in life… Sorry, I couldn’t give you a better solution.

  • Mrs Ng says:

    Hi I am interested in employing a new maid to replace my present one who is going back to get married. However, I have had bad experiences with some agencies before regarding replacement. The present maid’s agencies has also changed some policies and will not guarantee replacement now.

    After reading about your agency’s policies in the blog, could you please let me know which agency u are from so that I could get a maid from you.

    Your early reply appreciated as my maid will be leaving end of June. Thank you

  • Candy says:

    Hi,
    I just hired my 3rd Indon FDW from a small agency in Bkt Timah Plaza, previous 2 was from a reputable agency, the reason being their maid salary is lower and their agency fees is also lower. I paid $3xxx placement fees and $1xxx services fees and misc fees to hire this new maid. Well, this new Indon maid is very pleasant, polite and speaks good English as she has worked in Malaysia for 6 years.
    After 1 month of training, she is able to work independently, cook the good meal and handle the kids. Out of sudden, after dinner last night, she told me she wants to go home as her family has some issues. Her story seems to be ridiculous, her mother, who is the only caretaker of her daughter, is being chased out of the relative house and now she has to temporary staying in a neighbour house… I spent hours to understand her family issue and trying to convinced her that she still owed me $3000 loan and no salary has been earned so far, no point returning home now. But she said she must go home to take care of her daughter and mother as all other siblings are not willing to help.
    This morning while I was away, she called her agent in Jakarta, telling them her intention to go back and get scolded by the agent, they doubt her and refuse to help her, so my maid threaten them that if anything happened to her family, she will call the police and report that this agent don’t allow her to return home. She’s even more determined to return home after talking to her agent.
    I ask my agent’s advice, she said will try to discuss with the indon agent before she can give me any solution. In my mind, I think there’s no point keeping her since she’s so stubborn, it’s better for me to send her back to the agent since I’m entitled for 2 free replacement. But after reading your comments and some of the reader’s sharing, I suspect this might be a scam, the agent may ask me to top up more fees if I were to sign the transfer and get a new replacement. And I just checked from MOM website that this agency has 6 demerit points and very low retention rate, only 34%, so I doubt that they are able to provide a good replacement. My question is: if I want to stop using them, how likely that I can get back my refund for the $3xxx placement fees? It was stated in the contract that in the event the FDW cannot be transfered, and I canceled the work permit after the waiting period of 21 days, I can get back 50% of the placement fees. Should I just buy a tix for the maid to return home and cancel the work permit then bring this to CASE to fight back my money?

  • admin says:

    Hi,
    Sorry for the late reply and hearing about your case.

    I would give the helper the benefit of doubt. It is possible that her family really has a problem. Some helpers do have “troublesome” family backgrounds. As you’ve mentioned since she is bent on going back, it is better to just let her go. (Ensure that the agency really sends her back to her home country and not transfer to another employer. If they transfer her, then the girl is probably lying.)

    I will advise that you read your contract with the agency carefully and do not cancel the girl because it may result in the forfeiture of any possible refund. I suggest that you talk to the agency first and try to resolve it amicably. You’re better off that way since the agency will help you 1) send the current girl back and 2) find a new replacement. You should also emphasize that it is not any of your fault but it is their girl’s fault that cause this trouble for you and them. Hopefully, they are nice enough to “play” nice with you as well. Try asking for not being charged anything since the girl was with you for only 1 month which is a very short period.

    Only in a worst case scenario do you bring it up to CASE.

    Hope this helps. All the best.

  • caregiver says:

    Hi Admin of Singapore maid Blog,

    my caregiver maid is going homeleave for a month soon in july. i hope to get a temp maid like one month to look after my mum who need daily assistance. Can you please advise any agency, experience, the procedure for hiring a maid for just a month, or 3 weeks ?
    i thinking not to send my mum to respite care as FDW maid at home is still a better choice for my mum. Any input appreciated.

  • Mrs Ng says:

    Hi

    I have chosen a maid from [blank] Employment Agency. They will be sending me
    papers to sign etc. However, my daughter was checking through MOM website and found that they have 5 demerits points. What does this mean? Should I sign or should I reject? Your urgent reply needed. Thank you

  • Matt says:

    Hello, thanks for your work!
    I currently have a FDW with me which she is tasked to take care of my 10 MO baby at home primarily; However things do not work out as she is constantly lacking consistency in taking care of the baby.

    We are sending her back to the agency and without asking for a replacement - I understand we will be limited by choice; What is surprising to us, the Maid agency is refusing to take her back but ask us to repatriate her back to indonesia, this is due to their ‘Professionalism’ and ‘Integrity’ as an agency. We are against this as we think she could have better fit in dealing with other chores such as cleaning and such.

    Question is -
    1. Do they as an maid employment agency reserve the right not to take back the maid that they solely sold to us?

    2. If they insist, where can we get help on this matter?

    Thanks for your help!
    Matt

  • Jeevan says:

    Hi there,

    We have moved to Singapore a year ago and tried two maids, an Indonesian and one Filipino (currently employed). But we do not find them suitable so far. We had a Chinese mainland maid with us when we were in Beijing and subsequently in Germany for about 8yrs. I am thinking to bring her down in Singapore.
    I read in one of your posts that it is not impossible to do so and also that you helped some families before.
    Can you pls give me advice on steps to get this process going and some tips that can help the process.
    Thank you.

  • admin says:

    Hi, sorry for the late reply. The MOM does not allow short-term employment like 1 month. Normal employment is for a 2 years period. For such short-term arrangements, you may wish to ask for local “ah mas” or “aunties” who can assist. Sorry, I cannot offer any better advice.

  • admin says:

    Hi, you may first wish to ask them the reason for the 5 demerit points. Sometimes, it is an operational issue in that they may have missed certain things that MOM require from them. Sometimes, it can be a more “serious” offence but it does not mean that the MOM will close them down since only demerit points were given. For very serious offence, MOM will stop their operations immediately. So, it really depends on you whether you are comfortable with their service and the helper they recruited for you. It is hard to say whether to reject outright or to accept. You will have to decide the best course of action.

  • admin says:

    Hmm… your case is interesting. Generally, the agency will “accept” the helper and help her find new employment. At the end of the day, it depends on whether the helper wants to find a new employer or return to her home country. If she wants to go back, the issue is solved. If not, you may wish to check your recruitment agreement with the agency to see what has been agreed when a scenario like yours arises. Generally, the agency wants the helper back. If they don’t, then it may be better to send the helper back to the home country and close the matter. But it is really up to you. You may wish to bring the matter up to CASE or the MOM and see what they say. But, ultimately, they will still go back to your recruitment agreement. Hope this helps.

  • admin says:

    I am aware that it is very difficult since China is not a traditional source country. But, not impossible. MOM does consider it on a case by case basis. However, you must have a strong case, or else, MOM would want you to consider the available resources here. You may either reconsider the available resources here or Google for good agencies who can assist with your case. This is considered a “special case” direct hire. It is best that you seek the help of pros to do this. Thank you.

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