Image via Flickr user Hans Splinter
One advantage that living in Singapore offers is affordable domestic help. Some expats – especially singles or couples without children – find that maid service once or twice per week is enough. But for others, especially those with families, a full-time maid to help with cooking, cleaning, shopping, ironing and childcare can be a blessing. Most helpers in Singapore are from the Philippines or Indonesia and are diligent, conscientious women who are working to support their families back home.
Part-time maids are available for between $10 and $20 an hour, and can be hired independently or through a company. Full-time, live-in maids can be hired for as little as $450 per month, although expats often pay them $650 or more, depending on their level of experience. Employers must also pay a monthly levy (currently $265) to the Singaporean government, plus a security bond of $5,000. Employers are responsible for providing accommodation, insurance, food and medical care for their maids, in addition to hiring costs, airfares for bi-annual home leave, transfer costs, and an annual bonus.
Most expats give them every Sunday and public holidays off, plus a two-week holiday every two years to their home country. To counter the instance of maids working without rest, the Ministry of Manpower has mandated that from 1 January 2013, all employers give helpers one day off per week (or be compensated if they choose to, or are required to work).
Fees vary, but from around $400, a maid agency will find you a maid, and will usually give you the chance to interview several. Alternatively, you can source a maid yourself (log on to the Ministry of Manpower website), but the process can be confusing. Some expats who are leaving Singapore help their maid to find work by advertising on notice boards or by word of mouth.
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