In Singapore, there are about 256,300 migrant domestic workers (MDWs) being employed. This means about one in five Singapore households employ a maid to help them with general housework, cooking, and looking 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.
Note: MOM has recently changed the terminology for such live-in household maids from Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) to Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW).
# 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|
If you are employing a younger MDW with no prior experience, it’s possible that they may accept the minimum salary required. Similar to all salary negotiations, this is between the employer and MDW. Do note that the above figures only represent the minimum monthly salary you need to pay if you engage an MDW from one of the countries. You should expect to pay more, particularly if the MDW that you employ has prior experience working in Singapore or elsewhere.
Besides the countries listed above, you can also employ MDWs from the following countries – Bangladesh; Cambodia; Hong Kong; India; Macau; Malaysia; South Korea; Taiwan; Thailand.
Do note that your MDWs need to be between the ages of 23 and 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 around $600. Furthermore, the specialised skills acquired by MDWs also matter. A trained and experienced MDW with skills in caregiving for the elderly can command between $1,000 and $1,500.
In general, the cost of hiring a maid who has worked/ is working in Singapore (also known as a transfer maid) is more expensive due to their experience. Additionally, the limited supply of new MDWs due to pandemic imposed border restrictions have also increased the desirability of transfer maids. It costs about $800 to $1,000 to hire a transfer maid, up from $650 to $800 prior to the pandemic.
Estimated Cost: About $600 to $1,500.
# 2 Maid Levy
As of 31 Jan 2023, the current maid levy in Singapore is $300 per month. For subsequent MDWs, 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 days of salary for the month.
MOM would be implementing at least one mandatory rest day a month for MDWs. This cannot be compensated away and is intended to improve the well-being of MDWs. This mandatory rest day policy is expected to take effect in end-2022.
Assuming her salary is $600 each month, the two additional days would cost $46 ($600 divided by 26, multiplied by 2).
Estimated Cost: $46 (assuming two additional working days)
# 4 Living Expenses
Living expenses are 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 participates 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 the concessionary levy.
# 5 Medical Costs
As an employer, you must bear the medical obligations of your MDW. These include recurring fixed medical costs from insurance and ad hoc costs like getting treatment for common colds and flu or toothaches.
Employers are required by MOM to buy medical insurance with a minimum coverage of at least $15,000 per year to cover the inpatient care and day surgery of the MDW.
Additionally, you are also required to buy personal accident insurance for your MDW with a minimum coverage of at least $60,000 per year to cover any sudden, unforeseen, and unexpected incidents that result in permanent disability or death.
Based on the quotes given by various insurance companies, you can expect to pay around $250 to $400 under the current medical requirements.
Lastly, MOM requires you to send your MDW for a six-monthly medical examination (6ME) to detect signs of abuse. All 6MEs must be conducted in clinics without the employer’s presence. You can log on to MOM’s MDW eservice to check the previous 6ME date and the MDW’s medical results. A basic 6ME can cost between $60 and $80 per year.
|Medical and Personal Accident Insurance||$250 to $400|
|Basic 6ME (twice a year)||$60 to $80|
|Total||$310/year to $480/year|
Estimated Cost: About $580, factoring for a higher medical insurance cost from end-2022
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 you know whom you wish to hire, then, the easiest way to find suitable help will be to engage a maid agency. The right maid agency will help you source 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 $2,500 (inclusive of insurance, airfare and application fee) for your MDW.
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. However, do check for the reason for the transfer. You can also consider getting your own maid insurance policy for your MDW if you prefer, or if you are not intending to find a helper through an agency.
Estimated Cost: $3,000 for typical airfare, insurance and application fees (we assumed a higher fee due to the increased difficulty of the entry application process and difficulty in securing flights due to the tightened border security caused by the pandemic).
Additional COVID-19 Related Costs
Due to additional COVID-19 travel restrictions, safety measures and additional work in administration and coordination, there may be additional costs.
From 29 August 2022, all pass holders entering Singapore no longer need entry approvals. However, COVID-19 vaccination is still a requirement for approval of work passes. For overseas vaccination records, these need to be verified by a serology test or by getting a digitally-verifiable vaccination certificate (DVCs) verified at a local clinic.
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 that you loan 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.
According to 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 that 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.
Update: The proposed implementation of the policy exempting the placement fee has been delayed. The original intent of the Indonesian authorities was for employers hiring new Indonesian MDWs to pay the placement fee so that the MDW could come to Singapore debt-free. This new ruling was meant to be implemented on 15 January 2021 but the “zero placement fee” policy has yet to be implemented in Indonesia.
This placement fee is estimated to be around $1,500 to $4,000 for an Indonesian maid.
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 $3,000), 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 MDW’s work permit, you will need to purchase a one-way ticket back home for her. This may cost you a few hundred dollars.
– You need to set aside a $5,000 security bond for each non-Malaysian maid you employ. While this is a cost that will be recovered at the end of her employment, you still need to foot the upfront cost. However, employers no longer need to pay a performance bond of $7,000 for Filipino maids as of 7 September 2022.
From 1 June 2022, MOM requires maid employment agencies to provide a refund option of at least 50% of the service fees paid by the employer. This activates if the MDW’s employment is terminated within the first six months of employment. The policy is applicable only up to the first three MDWs placed by the employment agency with the same employer.
Read Also: Guide To Buying Maid Insurance In Singapore
This article was originally posted on 20 March 2019 and has been updated to provide the latest information.
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