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[2022 Edition] How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Maid In Singapore?

Did You Know: MOM will look at your household income when assessing whether to grant you a work permit to employ a FDW. This is to ensure that employers have the financial means to afford to hire.


In Singapore, there are about 246,000 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 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.

Note: MOM has recently changed the terminology for such live-in household maids from Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) to Migrant Domestic Worker (MDW).

Read Also: How Much Does It Cost To Hire Part-Time Cleaners/ Maids/ Housekeepers In Singapore?

# 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
Philippines $570
Indonesia $550
Sri Lanka $497
Myanmar $450

 

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 employer and MDW. Do note that the above figures only represent the minimum monthly salary you need to pay if you engage a 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 $597. 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.

Read Also: Are There Cheaper Alternatives To Hiring A Domestic Helper?

# 2 Maid Levy

As of 1 April 2019, 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 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.

Utility $40/month
Grocery $120/month
Transport $40/month
Total $200/month

 

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*

Salary $600
Maid Levy $60
Working On Rest Days $46 (assuming two days a month) 
Living Expenses $200
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.

Currently, 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. From end-2022, the requirements will be enhanced to require a minimum coverage of at least $60,000.

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 $300 to $500 under the current medical requirements. However, the estimated insurance costs will be higher from end-2022 as the coverage will be increased.

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 $300 to $500
Basic 6ME (twice a year) $60 to $80
Total $360 to $580

 

Estimated Cost: About $580, factoring for a higher medical insurance cost from end-2022 

Read Also: Mandatory Medical Insurance Coverage For Foreign Workers: What Are The Minimum Requirements For Work Permit (including Migrant Domestic Workers) And S Pass Holders 

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, the costs you have to pay have increased significantly.

To bring in a new maid to Singapore during the pandemic, there are new safety measures that must be met: e.g. entry approval from MOM, valid COVID-19 swab tests prior to the maid’s departure, Stay-Home-Notice (SHN) period served at an approved facility, etc. All these costs add up even if you are not using an agency (e.g. SHN dedicated facilities cost S$1,050 for 10-day SHN while COVID-19 tests cost about S$125 to S$160 each). Thus, agencies have increased their service fees to account for the additional work needed to coordinate all these new time-sensitive requirements while airfare costs may have also increased due to limited flight availability.

Additionally, from 1 January 2021, employers must buy additional medical insurance for the maid before her arrival to cover any COVID-19 related medical expenses. This insurance must have a coverage of at least S$10,000 for the workers’ medical expenses if they develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive within 14 days of arrival in Singapore.

Update: From 1 April 2022, fully vaccinated MDWs do not need entry approvals to enter Singapore. However, they need to comply with the travel requirements. Two days prior to departure, MDWs must have taken either a PCR test at an internationally accredited clinic or ART by a trained professional. Upon arrival, you must pick-up your MDW using private transport within 1 hour of arrival from the checkpoint.

The MDW needs to be self-isolated and is required to take an unsupervised self-swab (USS) ART within 24 hours. You can submit the test results here. Once, the MDW gets a negative test result, they can go about their activities in Singapore.

Latest Update: From 26 April 2022, all fully vaccinated travellers entering Singapore via air or sea checkpoints will no longer need to take the pre-departure test. However, MDWs are still required to take a serology test within 30 days of arrival in Singapore, which costs around $100.

Estimated Cost: $1,00 to $150 for additional COVID-19 related costs.

Read Also: 4 Additional Things To Know When Hiring A Foreign Domestic Worker During COVID-19

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 from 15 January 2021 but the “zero placement fee” policy has yet to 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 $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. With the additional lump-sum costs due to COVID-19, this will work out to about $1,100 per month or an additional $100 over a 2-year period. If you are hiring an Indonesian maid and paying for the additional maid placement fee, this will work out to be around $1,170 per month over a 2-year period.

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, 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.

Update: 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. Additional reporting by Shashi Kumar.

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