Need a little help at home? A domestic helper can help you to keep your home in order and look after your children, allowing you to focus on your career and other life goals. That said, not all prospective employers are lucky enough to find a helper who fits their requirements. If you’re looking to hire a domestic helper yourself, read on for pointers on how to make the right choice for your household!
Before you begin
The rights of these foreign domestic workers are protected by the Ministry of Manpower. By law, domestic helpers in Singapore must live with their employers, and so begin your preparations by ensuring that you can provide basic amenities for your helper in your home, such as a comfortable place to sleep and a fair amount of privacy. You can also start to make a list of your expectations of a helper and what skills you’d prefer candidates to have. This will streamline your selection process immensely!
As you begin to interview and consider candidates for the role, check with the maid agency how experienced each candidate is with domestic work. If you need someone to take care of your young children, candidates with experience caring for children (or with children of their own) would naturally have an advantage over those who do not.
Ask those with previous employment in domestic work for their reasons for departure. This not only gives you an idea of each individual’s relationship with her previous employer, but also could flag any warning signs. It’s important to choose a maid whose work ethic you agree with – this is one of the first steps to a harmonious employer-employee relationship. You may also enquire what they liked and didn’t like in their previous jobs, so as to better understand their expectations of their new role in your home.
Conflict resolution style
To gain a better understanding of each candidate’s communication style, invite the candidate to explain what they would do if dissatisfied with you. This functions almost like a verbal contract pending hire, and should also be accompanied during the employment term with a conducive environment for mutual feedback.
While not always the most important criterion, language is a crucial component to your communication with your maid. Misunderstandings can lead to uncomfortable situations that nobody wants in their own home! In order to minimise such chances of conflict and make for a more conducive working environment, it would be best if your helper can speak a common language as your household members and you. Those of you who live with your elderly parents may require that the helper take care of their needs. Caring for the elderly is meticulous work, so it’s important that you can communicate well with your helper, even if your parents cannot.
Priorities of candidates
Having come from another country, these foreign domestic workers usually have commitments and obligations to fulfil back home, which in some cases could disrupt her work in your home. It is important that you understand the background of each candidate to have a better idea of her priorities for the immediate future, such as if her parents require frequent medical treatment, why she wants to work overseas and if she has other family that may demand her attention at any time.
Health of candidates
Hiring a maid in good health could save you some money on medical expenses (which as an employer you are obliged to shoulder) and also promote higher productivity at work. Nevertheless and with all things, unforeseen circumstances can arise at any time during employment, regardless of your maid’s initial state of health. To ensure that you are prepared to face any such unexpected circumstances, consider purchasing an insurance plan for your domestic helper to cover your expenses should any accidents occur, of even if you have to terminate your contract prematurely.
Agencies for foreign domestic workers usually require that employers pay a list of fees, the most sizable being a security deposit at the point of hire, usually around $5,500, and the next being agency fees, which can swing wildly in the range of a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. With careful calculation, you could save quite a lot with your choice of agency, but choose wisely! Look out for the turnover rates of each agency – higher turnover rates may indicate lower customer satisfaction.
Knowing that turnover is a consideration for many employers, Etiqa’s ePROTECT maid insurance plan offers an add-on security bond to the Ministry of Manpower that limits your liability from S$5,000 to S$250. Planning ahead can pay off handsomely in unexpected situations, so make sure that you cover all bases while hiring a maid!
Check also with the agency if any base rates have been set by your maid’s country origin – as protection, some countries require that their citizens be paid a minimum sum for full-time work done abroad.
Peace of mind
Hiring a domestic helper may not be the easiest of processes, but finding the right domestic helper can bring the peace of mind that your home is well cared for while you are busy building your future. If you’re looking to welcome a helper into your home, we hope you now have a better idea where to start, and wish you all the very best in your selection!
Information is accurate as at 23 April 2019.