Archive for the ‘singapore maid agency review’ Category

PostHeaderIcon “DIY” Maid? Finding a Maid on Your Own?

Since Uber and AirBnB, there are more and more disruptions in various industries. The maid industry isn’t spared as well.

I was told of certain websites helping employers find their own maids. I’ve my opinion on this and it is pretty UGLY!

I suppose it is a really good idea for employers to find their own maids - I will have less headache ;-) They can’t blame me if something goes wrong. They find their own maids, it has nothing to do with the agency! So, if anything goes wrong (which it will, according to Uncle Murphy), the employer has to solve her own problems. No agency will take on the case since the employer did not employ a helper through them in the first place.

But, let me back up a bit.

Employing a maid (I prefer the term “domestic helper” - as my respect for these great women who sacrifice for their families back home) is really not that simple. These websites really over-simplify things. And, in my opinion, over promise and under deliver. Most importantly, they will never tell you the potential problems you may have.

Firstly, any helper who are “unhappy” with their current employer can apply. It is just taking a selfie and uploading their personal details. To what extent does the website vet and check and interview the helper. None! So, how can the employers be sure the helpers are the real deal? Are they really that good in what they say they are?

Secondly, some of these websites tout themselves as “social enterprises” by saying that the helper does not have to pay any agency fee. So, they are doing social good. Think about it - if the helper did not pay any fee, do they have a vested interest to do well in their job? If it doesn’t work out, they lose nothing. Since they have nothing to lose, they may not be that committed. Think changing helpers again and again if you go this route.

Thirdly, the employers have to navigate and do the application by themselves. This is good if the employers are good with paperwork and are okay with all the hassle of it. They can save some money.

But, here is the part which makes them penny wise but pound foolish (in my opinion). When problems arise, no agency will help out in the case unless the employer is committed to getting a new helper through the agency. Think no more saving money!

Agencies are smart. They are in business for profits. Why would they take on a troublesome case for pennies? Worse, when it is not “their” helper. They would rather spend time on an “actual” customer. Not a “cheapo DIY” employer with a problematic helper. In all likelihood, in the agencies’ opinion, such an employer is really not worth the trouble. They will “happily” send such an employer her merry way to another agency ;-)

Of course, some readers may say I’m biased in my opinion. And, I am. However, if you really think through the few points that I’ve brought up - maybe you will reconsider your position.

Will “DIY” maid work out? Yes, it may. If the employer likes going through all the hassle of paperwork and finding the helper. And, the helper is genuine and sincere. Most importantly, the employer is “humane” as well. It’s been my experience that some employers expect the helper to take care of the baby, wash the clothes, cook, mop the floor, bring the older kid to school, “humour” Ah Ma, etc. I bet the Ma’am couldn’t do that either.

So, the starting may be good and well. But if the DIY employer is unreasonable in her demands, it is not going to work out ultimately. Doesn’t matter if it is DIY or not.

In my opinion, such disruptions in the maid industry is over-rated. There is really no real value created by such websites. Talk to the employers who have used such a site, and you’ll know the “real” pain they have faced.

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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 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 The Only Maid Agency I Will Ever Recommend is…

You know the problem of Chinese New Year and working in the maid industry?

I have too many friends and relatives asking me to recommend a good maid agency to them. As you are probably aware, many of them have problems with their maids, much like you do.

But, truth be told, I dare not recommend any agency to anyone, including the agency I work in. This is a trade involving human beings and there is no perfect human beings. So there is really nothing to recommend.

Then, along comes this friend who is a Life Coach, and she started grilling me with some really tough questions.

“If you were to know which is the best maid agency in Singapore, how would it look like?”

I said I don’t know. As far as I am concerned the best maid agency in Singapore would have 100% matching maids for all their clients without any problems. Maybe a robot maid would do that?!

So, she said, “If you were to guess, it’s just guessing, okay, and you really don’t know, just guess, what would be the best maid agency in Singapore? What do you see on their website? What feedback do they get? Etc.?

Well, I guess, the first thing is that they should have lots and lots of positive feedback. People say good things about them and they should have lots and lots of testimonials. And, they do not appear online to be bashed by tons of people like in a blogspot blog.

Then, she went on to say, “What kind of a good experience would you experience with such an agency? Just imagine it, it is not necessary that you have experienced it. Just imagination will do.”

Okay, I imagine that they are friendly, and they write down my requirements of a maid. I also expect them to screen the potential maids such that they meet my requirements closely.

Moreover, I expect them to be honest with me and provide good after sales service. Even if I want my money back, they are very happy to return the money to me.

They are upfront kind of people and tell me the problems of my maid employment process, if any. They must be the kind that is fair and do not discount me as a customer after I have paid them or asked for a replacement.

And, my friend said, “Well done! Is there a maid agency that you are thinking about when you answered my questions? Note, it is thinking about, you don’t have to know any agency like this.”

I said, as if I will know a maid agency like that.

Then, she changed her tactic, and said, “If you were to take a maid for yourself, which maid agency’s service will you try?”

Of course, it would be my own agency because I can twist my supplier’s arms if it doesn’t work out. Heehee!

“No, no,” she said. “Imagine that you cannot twist any arm whatsoever, where would you go?”

That is a tough question. I will go online and do my research and see what turns up, I guess.

“So, what would be your steps? As in step one, what would you do?”

Right, step one, I will visit the list of accredited maid agencies.
These agencies are accredited by the Consumers Association. So, if their service is not up to par, I can complain about them to the Consumers Association and get my money back. Never lose money to unscrupulous money-faced maid agencies is my motto.

Then, I will go through their websites and evaluate them with my checklist above - lots of positive feedback, testimonials, doing a proper matching of my needs, etc. Just click on the agency names in the list of accredited maid agencies and you will see their websites. I think it is a long list.

“That’s great! Only 2 steps to do? And you can find your maid which won’t give you a headache?” asked my friend.

I said that there is no maid that won’t give you a headache. But, at least, make sure that you can get back your money.

Then, she asked her coaching question again, “based on your gut feel, if you were to try only 1 maid agency out of that long list, which would it be? Remember, it is just a feeling and you are just trying out. No commitment whatsoever. So, there is no risk.”

Okay, okay. You’re still trying to push for a maid agency that I will recommend. Fine!

If I were to get a maid for myself without using my own agency, I will try out the service of the maid agency right at the top of the accreditation list. Their name starts with the number “1″. (It is a weird name I must say.)

“Why is that so?”

Before you even asked me these questions, I was actually doing research and poking my nose around when setting up this blog. I have visited many, many agency websites.

The one I recommended seems to have the “mostest” testimonials of all. And, these are not some flimsy testimonials. These are “industrial” strength kind.

Moreover, I have heard some good things about them. As for bad things, none so far.

Now, I hope you are happy with my recommendation.

“Yes, I am happy,” my friend said with a smile.

Life Coach!  #@$%  ;-)

Disclaimer: You use whatever maid agency at your own risk, including my “researched” recommended agency. I am NOT liable for anything. By the way, I’ve never used them before, but, I recommend them based on what I see on their site and what I heard. And, what I heard may be wrong as well. So, you have been duly informed.

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PostHeaderIcon Singapore Maid Agency Review

Actually, I’ve done a Singapore maid agency review already. However, I think I need to make it more complete by providing even more information. There are also questions about using new unaccreditated agencies which I have some thoughts on.

Personally, I have a preference for CASE accreditated agencies because it is accreditated by a third party consumers protection agency which is "government linked".

However, equally recognised are the AEAs accreditated agencies which you can also take into consideration. These are agencies accreditated by the Association of Employment Agencies which is a self governing body of maid agencies.

In addition, here is a list of agencies which have their accreditation revoked by the AEAs. Stay away from them.

Yet another list to check is whether the agencies are accreditated and do they have any demerit points or not.

Here is the MOM list of agencies…

A few points to note about the list:

1. New agencies do not have to be accreditated in their first year of operation. In their second year, they have to be accreditated to continue operations.

2. Demerit points are issued when the agency infringes the rules and regulations of MOM. Any agency with 12 points are placed under MOM’s surveillance. The demerit points are "reset" after 6 months for the particular infringement. However, if there is a severe infringement like maid abuse, illegal worker, etc., the license will be revoked immediately.

3. Many agencies do not have accreditation in this MOM list because they are non maid agencies. They can be HR consultancies, HR placement companies and so on. Do take note.

A question has also been raised about trying the services of new agencies. There are 3 points to note here.

Firstly, the agency may not be new. It can be a way for "old" and "bad" agencies to circumvent the demerit points system. The old agency’s license may be revoked, but the management wanted to get back into business, so they applied for a new license under a new name. However, the MOM will have checks in place to prevent this. So, are these "recalcitrant" agencies worth trying? I think you know the answer to this.

Secondly, an unaccreditated new agency is a "new kid on the block". In other words, there is no track record. My philosophy is this: let them be successful, and once they’ve proven themselves, then put your money in there. I would not let them risk my family’s well-being as they build their business by me taking a risk with them. But, that’s just me. You can always give a new agency a shot.

Thirdly, there are "new" agencies which are actually old, established agencies doing a conversion in corporate structures. You see, a long time ago many agencies are run by individuals in the form of sole proprietors or partnerships. However, over the years, they’ve grown bigger and better. As such, it makes sense for them to corporatize and become a private limited company.

I think this is the only category of "new" agencies which I will go to because they have already proven themselves from growing from a sole proprietor or partnership into a private limited company. They must be doing a good job to be able to progress to the next level of growth.

I hope this helps.

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