Latest News: You can now learn How to Find a Good Maid in Singapore (click to open in new window) - finally, MOM has provided a way for employers to find a “good” maid using their database…

The purpose of this page is to give you some recommendations on where to start and what to watch out for when engaging the service of a maid agency in Singapore and employing a maid.

I would also like to share some ideas adopted by other agencies and employers in the maid hiring process. In addition, I will also be sharing some useful resources I found online for your reading pleasure.

New: Remember to read about this new Singapore maid agency scam

This is how I normally advise my clients or friends when they are searching for a maid:

  1. Objective of hiring a maid - why do you need a maid?
  2. Ask around for a good maid - no need to go to any agency if you have friends who are giving up their good maid. (New: be careful, some friends may lie… read below for more…)
  3. If not, you need to shortlist a few agencies to check out their bio-data and reputation.
  4. Evaluate the candidates the agencies short-listed for you or you short-listed yourself.
  5. Read the paperwork and fine print in anything you sign. Understand the rules and regulations. Make sure you know what you are signing.
  6. Train your maid to do things your way.
  7. Hopefully, things work out your way.

1.  Objective of hiring a maid

This is an important part of the process. Given a choice, all of us would want a perfect maid. But, it’s simply not possible because we’re dealing with human beings here. As such, you must prioritize what are the most important tasks you want your maid to perform.

It can be taking care of your baby, dogs, or cats; super cleaning with zero speck of dust; fantastic cuisine gourmet cooking; or even a tutor for the children, etc.

For your information, I even had an employer asking me whether the girl can drive or not. When I told my colleague about it, she couldn’t stop laughing.

But, before you even start the process of getting a maid, ask yourself whether you really, really, need a maid? Are there better solutions to your needs apart from employing a maid?

For instance, sending your children to childcare or getting your in-laws to help out, etc.

2. Ask around for a good maid

This is the best solution of all, in my opinion. Get a good, experienced maid who matches your needs from a friend, neighbour or colleague. At least, your friend, neighbour or colleague can vouch for the girl.

This way, you save on agency fee and maid’s loan. Your expenses in this case, would be insurance cost and processing fee, if you choose the service of an agency.

New: A customer shared her experience with me. Her maid was highly recommended by her colleague. But, the girl was actually not that good. It was later that she realized from the agency that her colleague had asked for a replacement for the previous maid and didn’t want to pay for the air fare to send the previous girl back. So, her colleague recommended that maid to her.

Not only that, it seemed that the maid had also been telling her colleague about my customer’s daily schedule and life style. Talk about a “kay-po” maid!

Conclusion: choose your friends and their recommendations wisely…

3. Short-listing a few good agencies

If you have no luck with #2. Then, you’ll have to deal with this headache and heartahce for some.

I don’t have a hard and fast rule for you here. Some employers and agencies think that getting a good maid depends on how lucky you are, and it doesn’t really matter where you go. As such, it’s a good idea to go “cheap, cheap, cheap”.

I beg to differ. It is important to “increase your luck” factor, so that if it doesn’t work out, you still don’t have too much of a headache. As such, finding a reputable agency is important.

I don’t know about you, between cheap and zero headache, I’ll choose zero headache any time. Let’s face it, we’ve enough headache at work already!

Here are a few things to watch for:

1.  Ask around for a good, reputable agency. If many people say they are good, you should have a good chance with them.

2.  It would be a plus point if they have real “live” testimonials from real employers. Forget the TV advertisements with the TV stars - you need real testimonials from real employers.

3.  Make sure the agency is accreditated either by CASE (Consumers Association of Singapore) or AEAs (Association of Employment Agencies).

If I were you, I will go for CASE because they are a consumer body that protects consumers. Click here for a list of CASE accreditated agencies. For Accreditation Type, choose CaseTrust for Employment Agencies. As at May 2015, there are only 21 CaseTrusted agencies, but there are about 1167 employment agencies (including agencies other than maid agencies).

4.  Check whether the agency has any demerit points with the MOM (Ministry of Manpower). Hit 12 points and the agency is out. Click here to check the list of valid agencies. Note that many are not accreditated because they are not maid agencies. Just watch for those who are accreditated by CASETrust.

5.  Google the name of the agency and see if there is any bad news about them.

6. Check out this list of maid agency reviews. While there are many bad things being said about various agencies here, look at it with an open mind. Things may not be what it seems.

7.  You can also try the following online maid databases. Please note that I am NOT recommending them nor am I saying that they are good or bad, so use them at your own risk.

Here are some points to note while using these databases. Please ensure that the agencies conform to the criteria above; and do note that (from users’ feedback), some of the databases will have the “perfect” maid profile to attract customers, but the maid is no longer available. Here are the databases to try…

Net Maid
Maid Library
Maid Agency

4. Evaluate the candidates

There is an important point I want to highlight here.

Have you ever wondered why many agencies do not bother to match the right maid to your family? Here’s the industry “secret”…

It’s called the “money multiplier effect” in economics 101.

You see, when a maid doesn’t work out with you, you’ll have to find a replacement. The agency gets to charge the replacement maid maid’s loan. The first maid that you “fire” will be charged a transfer fee. The agency earns 2 times over on your problem, and that is assuming that they don’t charge for replacements.

Let’s say, your replacement maid doesn’t work out. You’ll have to get a third maid. The agency can charge the third maid a maid’s loan and charge the second maid a transfer fee, and so on, and so forth. Here, the agency earns 4 times over with the same customer.

So, can you see how by having you as a customer with replacement problems, the agency gets to multiply their income many times over? This, obviously is bad news for us as consumers.

But, there are still a few ways to deal with this:

1. Observe what is the intention of the agency. For agencies who intend to “multiply you out”, they will just “throw” any candidates to you, and ask you to take your pick.

The honest agencies will probably ask you for your needs and shortlist candidates who are close to your needs. It will be good if they document down your needs instead of just asking you verbally. After all, how much can you remember without writing things down?

Needless to say, even if the honest agencies bother to match you up with the right maid, it may not work out. However, their intention has been trying to match you with the right girl from the outset, and NOT to “multiply you out”.  It is important to observe the intention of the agencies.

2. Ask for the employment history of the candidates. Forget the 1 or 2 lines “work in Jakarta 2 years”. You want the full details. What did they do on a daily basis, how many transfers did they have, are there any reference letters from previous employers? Can you even interview their previous employers about them?

3.  Interview the candidates over the phone or Skype. Evaluate their level of English. Do they sound like they don’t understand what you’re asking? Don’t count on the interview to be fruitful unless you’re interviewing girls from “English speaking” countries.

4.  Ask their training centre teacher about their strengths and weaknesses. It may not be very useful since they will probably say that the girl is good, but it will at least give you some indication whether they are good with babies, or in cooking, etc.

5.  Understanding the paperwork, rules and regulations

I will share with you some resources that I’ve found online. They are being listed below.

In addition, I will also highlight some important points that you need to watch for so that you’re “not cheated” by any agencies.

1.  I’ve found 2 pdf files from an agency which I thought are pretty useful - they give a good overview of things.

Right click here and choose “save as” to download the first file, and right click here and choose “save as” to download the second file. (Please note that the pdfs say that it is okay to circulate the files, so I am not breaking any rules.)

Please note that I am NOT recommending this agency, if you want to use them, you use them at your own risk. However, I must say that they have the most testimonials that I’ve ever seen for an agency. Are the testimonials real? I don’t know. Maybe you should ask them.

2. Make sure that the agencies use the Standard Agreements stipulated by the Consumers Association. Click here to download and read the agreements.

3. Want to know all the nitty gritty about employing a maid? Check out this official resource…

4. Do note that if you’re a first-time employer, you’ll have to attend an Orientation Course and pass the test. Click here to do the course online.  You’ll need pay $30 and have Singpass to access the course. No Singpass? Get one here…

Okay, here are a few more things to note:

1. Under the standard agreements, you’re entitled to pro-rata refunds of the maid’s loan if your maid doesn’t work out. Make sure it’s in your agreement.

2. No maid agency has the right to “force” you to go back to them for all your maid agency needs, whether it is stated in the agreement or not. In other words, you should be able to have a free choice whom you want to go to. When in doubt, check the standard ageements and with the Consumers Association.

3. When your maid doesn’t work out, you should also be entitled to pro-rata refund of your maid insurance. The percentage of refund is dependant on the time period of return of the maid. Check with the agency on this.

4. Check what are your rights if the maid doesn’t work out. Make sure what is being said is the same as what is being written. Black and white is what counts, so take note.

5. Do NOT sign blindly. Understand what you are signing for. If you’re signing the CASE Standard contracts, you should be “safer” than others who don’t. But, you must still read and understand the contracts.

6. Find out what are the lodging expenses if you have to return the maid. It can be free, $10 per day or $20 per day, depending on the agency.

7. Make sure there is a guarantee period for a free replacement maid. Ask how many replacements you can get within the time period. Obviously, the more free replacements you can get within a longer time period, the better.

6. Train your maid

As most employers of maids would know, the training in the training centres are really questionable. Most of the girls have been there for a very short period of time - anywhere from 1 week to perhaps 3 months. Some of them don’t even have their passports ready!

Anyway, after your maid join your family, you’ll have to get your mother, your mother-in-law or yourself to train the girl to do things your way. Forget the men, they’re just terrible with housework ;-)

You may also want to lay down some ground rules. Get your agency to tell the girls so that it sounds “official” to them.

Here are some points to note:

1. Make sure that you give the girl sufficient sleep and sufficient food.

2. The MOM takes a serious view on both physical and mental abuse. So don’t think that scolding the girl really hard but not caning her will absolve you from abuse.

3. Treat the girl like a fellow human being. Let it be okay if she makes mistakes. You don’t have to fly off the handle every time she did something wrong. She is human after all. Be cool about it. (I know it’s hard, but think about the wrinkles and the white hair if you get angry too frequently.)

4.  Ask the agency whether they have some sort of ground rules checklist for the girl. It will be good if the agency have something like this because some girls just don’t know how to behave.

5. Note that the girls are “well educated” by the authorities and their embassies of their rights, so do NOT push your luck in any way or form if the girl is not performing to your expectation.

It is better to give yourself and her some time to work out the kinks. I think 2-3 months is more than enough time. Some employers thought that 1 day is more than enough. Well, job probation is generally 3 months for office workers. So, let’s be fair, shall we?

I think I’ve covered as many points as I can here. If you’ve any questions or comments, do let me know.

Thanks for reading.

Update: read how a friend twisted my arm for “The Only Maid Agency I Recommend…”

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