This article was originally posted on 20 March 2019 and has been updated to provide for the latest information
In Singapore, there are about 250,000 foreign domestic workers (FDWs) being employed. This means about one in five Singapore households employ a maid to help them with general housework, cooking, and to look after the elderly, young children or family members with disabilities.
If you don’t already know, hiring a maid in Singapore goes beyond just the salary that you need to pay. In this article, we will help guide you through the various costs that you incur when employing a maid so that you can accurately budget for it.
# 1 Salary
Salary is the biggest monthly recurring cost that you will be paying.
Depending on which country your maid comes from, the salary that you can expect to pay may differ.
|Country||Minimum Monthly Salary|
Do note that the above figures only represent the minimum monthly salary you need to pay if you engage a FDW from one of the countries. You should expect to pay more, particularly if the FDW that you employ have prior experience working in Singapore or elsewhere.
However, if you are employing a younger FDW with no prior experience, it’s possible that they may accept the minimum salary required. Similar to all salary negotiations, this is between employer and FDW.
Besides the three countries listed above, you can also employ FDWs from the following countries – Bangladesh; Cambodia; Hong Kong; India; Macau; Malaysia; South Korea; Sri Lanka; Taiwan; Thailand.
Do note that your FDWs need to be between the age of 23 to 50 at the time of application. They must also have a minimum of 8 years of formal education with a recognised certificate. Find out more about their eligibility requirements here.
In general, if you are employing a maid with experience, you should expect to pay more than the minimum. HelperChoice, a platform that helps connect employers to helpers, found that the average salary of a maid in Singapore is $597.
Estimated Cost: About $600
# 2 Maid Levy
As of 1 April 2019, the current maid levy in Singapore is $300 per month. For subsequent FDWs, it’s $450.
If you qualify for a concessionary levy, this will be reduced to $60. The concessionary rate applies to families who have family members as stated below.
- Child or grandchild below 16 years old.
- Elderly family member who is at least 67 years old.
- Family member who needs help with at least one daily activity.
However, you stop qualifying for levy concession when the:
- Child or grandchild turns 16 years old.
- Person needing care (young child, aged or disabled family member) has passed away.
- Person needing care no longer stays with you.
- Person needing care is no longer a Singapore citizen
Estimated Cost: $60 (with concession) or $300 (no concession)
# 3 Working On Rest Days
Your maid is entitled to a weekly rest day. This means about four days each month.
If your maid agrees to work on her rest day, you should compensate her with at least one day’s salary, or a replacement rest day taken within the same month. For example, if your maid only takes two days off each month, and works on the other two off days, you should compensate her with two additional day of salary for the month.
Assuming her salary is $600 each month, the two additional days would cost $46 ($600 divide by 26, multiple by 2).
Estimated Cost: $46 (assuming two additional working days)
# 4 Living Expenses
Living expenses is one of the unseen costs that you should not ignore.
Employing a maid is like having an additional adult living in your home. At the very least, you should account for the additional utility, groceries and public transportation costs incurred.
There may be other costs you incur. If your family eats out often and you do not wish to leave your maid behind, you should expect to spend more on these family outings. Also, some employers may wish to pay for items such as telecommunication bills and other leisure activities that their maid participate in. This will add up.
Estimated Cost: About $200 (low estimate, likely to be higher for many families)
Total Recurring Costs Each Month*
|Working On Rest Days||$46 (assuming two days a month)|
|Total||$906/month or $1,146 (with no concessionary levy)|
* Assuming a salary of $600 per month, working on two rest days and with concessionary levy.
One-Off Lump Sum Cost
Besides the monthly recurring cost, you also need to pay for other one-off expenses when employing a maid, namely insurance, airfare, medical screening, employment agency fee and application fees.
If this is the first time you are employing a maid, and you don’t have anyone that you know whom you wish to hire, the easiest way to find a suitable help will be to engage a maid agency. The right maid agency will help you source for the right helper based on your requirements.
An agency will also handle most of the applications or guide you through them such as work permit application, medical screening, airfare and insurance requirements. Most maid agencies will charge a fixed cost for their services. In general, you can expect to pay between $1,000 to $3,000 for their services with an average of about $2,000 (inclusive of insurance, airfare and application fee) for your FDW.
To lower your cost, you can consider opting for a maid transfer. This is when you get a maid who is already employed by another household in Singapore, as opposed to one who is flying in from her home country which costs more. Do check however for the reason for the transfer. You can also consider getting your own maid insurance policy for your FDW if you prefer, or if you are not intending to find a helper through an agency.
Estimated Cost: $2,000
Placement Fee/Maid Loan
Most maid agencies will have this component called a placement fee, sometimes also known as a maid loan. This is basically an amount which is a loan that you pay to the maid agency on behalf of the maid. Think of this as what the maid is paying the agency in order to work in Singapore.
As written in a Straits Times article, maids coming to Singapore from the Philippines should be using only up to half of their monthly salary to repay a loan, up to an amount of $1,100. This covers her pre-employment expenses such as training and medical examination.
Placement fee/maid loan are not considered as part of your expenses since you will be receiving the loan back through deductions made from the maid’s salary in the initial months.
Some maid agencies charge a placement fee which is higher than two months of the maid’s salary. This is not allowed and as a responsible employer, we need to be aware that our prospective FDW should not be paying more than two months as a placement fee to Singapore maid agencies.
Do note that unfortunately, MOM cannot regulate the fees charged in the workers’ home countries. So it’s still technically possible that while the Singapore agency only charges two months of salary as placement fee, the FDW may have already agreed to pay more to the agency in her home country. Employers can check with the Singapore maid agencies to ensure that their FDW isn’t paying more than what’s stipulated.
Total Cost Of Engaging A Maid – Over A Period of 2 Years
If you add up the monthly recurring cost ($906 per month) to the one-off lump sum cost (about $2,000), you should expect to spend at least $24,000 over a period of 2 years, or about $1,000 per month. This should be taken as an estimate on the low-end.
This is an amount that you and your family should carefully budget for before you proceed to engage a maid.
Remember the costs can increase. For example, you should consider the following costs after two years
– If you are no longer intending to extend your FDW, you will need to purchase a one-way ticket back home for her. This may cost you a few hundred dollars.
– Your maid would need to go for a medical check-up every six months. This is mandatory.
– If you intend to renew your FDW work permit, you will also need to buy her a new maid insurance policy. This would cost you about $200 to $300 for a period of 26 months. You can compare some of the best maid insurance policies on SingSaver, and receive some additional discounts, cash back or special promotions. Find out more here.
Read Also: Guide To Buying Maid Insurance In Singapore