Hiring a Part-Time Helper vs Foreign Domestic Worker in Singapore

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household chores by maid in singapore

Is your housework piling up? Or do you need an extra pair of hands to take care of your little ones? We could always use some help around the house (especially when you’re deadbeat after a long day at work!). If you are planning to hire a maid in Singapore, the question is: do you need a part-time helper or live-in foreign domestic worker?

If you require someone to be at home to care for your children or elderly parents, then hiring a foreign domestic worker would be worthwhile. Conversely, if you only require help with cleaning from time to time, a part-time helper may be the way to go!

Let’s have a quick look at the general pros and cons of each choice!

Part-Time Helper vs Foreign Domestic Worker

Factors to Consider Part-Time Helper/ House Cleaning Services Foreign Domestic Worker (live-in help)
Frequency of Cleaning Sessions
  • One-time session

Sessions below usually require a commitment period (e.g. Weekly for 3 months)

  • A few times a week
  • Weekly/ fortnightly sessions
  • Monthly sessions
  • Customisable (since your helper is living with you)
Monetary Cost
  • Rates are dependent on: Size of your house, frequency of cleaning, extensiveness of cleaning, duration and number of cleaners
  • May include surcharge for peak periods (e.g. weekends and public holidays)
  • May or may not include admin/agency fee

Here’s a rough guide:

  • Hourly rates: $18-$30/hour
  • Monthly rates: $230-$660/month
  • Helper’s salary: Minimum $550/month
  • Foreign domestic worker levy: $60-$300
  • Work Permit: $70
  • Agency fees: Approximately $1000
  • Maid Insurance: Approximately $327 for a 26-month plan
  • Settling In Programme (SIP): $75
  • Medical Examination: $25-$45 per visit
  • Performance Bond: $40-$70
  • Miscellaneous expenses (more on this later)
  • Agency (with trained and certified cleaners)
  • Freelance helpers through word-of mouth
Availability of Service
  • Wide choices of housekeeping services in Singapore
  • Service is available 1-3 days upon request (subject to availability and agency requirements)
  • Limited availability due to COVID-19 border restrictions
  • Service is available 1-4 weeks upon approval of hiring
  • Dependent on the working experience of the foreign domestic worker you’re hiring
Job scope
  • Most regular house cleaning packages provided by agencies do not include the following: Cleaning of ceiling and wall fans, high windows and grilles, washing of dishes, laundry and packing of personal effects.
  • However, the same agencies might provide the above-mentioned cleaning services based on separate charges
  • Job scope is up to employer (with the safety and welfare of the foreign domestic worker in mind at all times, of course)

*All prices stated are in SGD (may not be inclusive of 7% GST) and for reference only.

Besides the general concerns listed above, here are other considerations that you may want to take note of:

Part-Time Helper

1. Flexibility

We’re not just talking about the flexible number of hours or cleaners here, you can even customise the area of your home that you wish to clean! Stubborn stains on rugs or accumulated dirt from a year ago? No problem!

As some agencies charge by the hour, they provide a rough duration of how long it would take to clean each area of your house and the type of cleaning included (e.g. 1 hour for the living room, which includes mopping, vacuuming, and wiping of furniture and windows).

Based on that, it is up to you to choose the area and duration! Or if you just want a specific part cleaned, such as your windows, that’s possible too!

2. Privacy

How can we emphasize this more? Your part-time helper will only be at your house for a maximum of half a day, hence you’re mostly free to enjoy the privacy of your own home! This is a point to note for those who are still working from home since the COVID-19 outbreak.


1. Availability

Imagine this: Your in-laws are visiting tomorrow morning. Both your husband and you have to work overtime tonight. Who’s coming to your rescue? Not likely to be part-time helpers. Even the most efficient agencies can only promise to offer their house cleaning services 24 hours from the time you place your request. If you have a live-in helper though, that would be a different story… …

2. Miscellaneous Work Allocation

While some home cleaning packages might even cover tasks such as ironing your clothes or packing your wardrobes, there are just some work that they cannot accomplish. For example, your part-time cleaning auntie would not be cooking for you and your family, be a companion to your elderly or fetching your kids from school on your behalf.

This means you’d need to think of alternatives such as engaging food delivery services and home care services for the elderly at home, which translate to additional costs.

Foreign Domestic Worker

If you require more help in your household, choosing a full-time maid might be for you. Nevertheless, there are still pros and cons that you need to consider. Due to the COVID-19 situation and border restrictions, getting a maid in Singapore is not as easy or affordable as before.


1. Reliability

Hiring a foreign domestic worker to assist you with the endless household chores and play the role of the main caregiver for your loved ones – this is something that a part-time helper cannot offer. When you are too caught up with work, your live-in helper might even be a companion to your children or elderly parents.

While our hopes for going overseas in 2020 are pretty much dashed, some of us may still need to go on overseas business trips, and during this time, your maid can take care of the house. Having a home insurance (Tiq has a comprehensive plan for you!) contributes to our peace of mind should anything happen, having someone to take care of your loved ones and be the first responder in case of an emergency would be even better.

2. Long-Term Benefits

Having a live-in helper means she would be able to familiarise herself with the daily routines of household chores. Perhaps she might even be able to manage the chores independently after some time! On the other hand, a part-time helper is not assigned to you on a permanent basis. If an issue does crop up, there is no guarantee that the solution will be conveyed to the temporary helper allocated to you.


1. Employer-Helper Disputes

Living under one roof is not that easy, especially when there are cultural differences and possibly language barriers. The fear of COVID-19 has also caused friction between employers and their FDW. Coercing them to stay indoors and preventing them from returning to their home country can only be described as maid abuse. However, there’s a better solution to ease unnecessary distress for both parties: how about building greater mutual understanding and trust in your employer-helper relationship? Check out this article for 3 simple tips!

2. Higher Short-Term Costs

If you’re just looking for short-term house cleaning services, hiring a live-in maid in Singapore would cost you more than a part-time helper. The miscellaneous expenses mentioned in the above table could be travel expenses (i.e. airfare to and fro your maid’s hometown as well as travel insurance) and provision of basic necessities and healthcare. Read this for the costs of hiring a maid in Singapore.

Speaking of healthcare, it is important that you are mindful of your foreign domestic worker’s welfare. While your maid insurance can cover a portion of medical expenses, you should also ensure that she’s not overworked by keeping her health in check.

3. Extra Room/Space Required

Having a live–in helper means having to share your home and set aside a room for her. Conversely, that space may be used for other purposes such as a study room, or for storage if you choose to hire a part-time helper instead.

Hiring a part-time helper or maid in Singapore?

We hope the above guide on the pros and cons of hiring a part-timer helper or foreign domestic worker has given you some useful insights. Having a helper is indeed an invaluable asset to the household, but having sufficient protection for your home, family and yourself is also essential.


Information is accurate as at 7 November 2020. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K). Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.

Tiq by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd.

A digital insurance channel that embraces changes to provide simple and convenient protection, Tiq’s mission is to make insurance transparent and accessible, inspiring you today to be prepared for life’s surprises and inevitabilities, while empowering you to “Live Unlimited” and take control of your tomorrow.

With a shared vision to change the paradigm of insurance and reshape customer experience, Etiqa created the strong foundation for Tiq. Because life never stops changing, Etiqa never stops progressing. A licensed life and general insurance company registered in the Republic of Singapore and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Etiqa is governed by the Insurance Act and has been providing insurance solutions since 1961. It is 69% owned by Maybank, Southeast Asia’s fourth largest banking group, with more than 22 million customers in 20 countries; and 31% owned by Ageas, an international insurance group with 33 million customers across 16 countries.

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