Singaporean's Ultimate Guide: How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Maid/ Domestic Helper?
 
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Singaporean's Ultimate Guide: How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Maid/ Domestic Helper?

Ming Feng
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So… How Many Maids Are There Really In Singapore?

Ever wondered how many Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) are there in Singapore?

As of December 2018, a grand total of 253,800 work permits were given out to Foreign Domestic Workers – or more commonly known as ‘maids’ or ‘domestic helpers’ to the majority of Singaporeans. That is actually quite a HUGE number of permits dispensed for a relatively small population of 5.6 million in Singapore…

Maid Carrying NSF's Field Pack
Source: Straits Times

We know what you’re thinking!

The Singapore Armed Forces are NOT responsible for the number of maids hired in Singapore!

In fact, maids play a big role in ensuring their Singaporean employers’ success in their respective workplaces. Just think about it. Having an extra pair of helping hands around to take away the constant worry and burden of housework really allows us to focus on getting better at work in order to contribute to our growing economy. And maybe even create capacity for Singaporeans to have babies. #justsaying

Naturally, this luxury comes at a cost…


TL;DR – How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Maid (Domestic Worker) In Singapore?

Cost Of hiring a maid in Singapore

As most maids are on a two-year contract in Singapore, here’s how much you need to be able to afford to hire a maid:

Factors

Cost

Total Cost Of Hiring A Maid Over 2 Years

One Time Payment

Agency CostAround $1,600$1,600
Air Ticket$400$400
Settling-In Programme (SIP)$75

(For New Maid)
$75
Work Permit Application$35$35
Issuing Of Employment Pass$35$35
Maid Insurance$225 to $330

(For 26 Months Coverage)
$225 to $330
Security Deposit$5,000$5,000

Monthly Recurring Cost

Cost Of Levy$60 or $300 per month

(Depending On Your Eligibility For Levy Concession)
$1,440 - $7,200
Monthly Salary$450 - $570 per month

(Depending On Country)
$10,800 - $13,680
Daily Expenses$300 per month$7,200

TOTAL

$26,810 - $35,525


What Is The Monthly Salary Of A Maid In Singapore?

The monthly salary of a maid is pegged to their nationality.

The majority of our maids are from countries such as:

  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • The Philippines
  • Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand

Here are the minimum salary rates, depending on the country which they are from:

CountryMinimum Monthly Salary
Philippines$570
Indonesia$550
Myanmar$450
Sri Lanka$497
  • Maids from the Philippines have a higher minimum monthly salary due to their fluency in English (read: easy to communicate with employers and other members of the family)
  • The average salary that Singaporean employers are paying their maids is actually above average at $597 – as compared to the rest of the world. This is according to HelperChoice, a platform that connects domestic helpers to employers.

Maid Levy Cost

Dollar Bill And Coins

To cope with Singapore’s insatiable demand for foreign maids, the levy for a household’s first foreign maid hired has been increased from $265 to $300 per month starting April 2019.

Do you qualify for concessionary maid levy?Cost Of Levy
Yes$60
No$300
  • The current levy for a domestic worker is at $300 per month
  • If you are hiring more than one helper, the levy increases to $450 per month each for every additional helper you hire
  • If you are eligible for levy concession, the amount you need to pay every month reduces to just $60 per month

How To Be Eligible For Levy Concession For Maids?

To be eligible for levy concession, you will need to be under any of these schemes:

SchemeRequirements
Young Child SchemeYou are eligible if your child is:

  • Below 16 years old.

  • Is a Singapore citizen.

  • Staying with you.


  • If your child is a Singapore citizen, you qualify for the concession automatically. Singaporean child born overseas included.

    The concession starts from your child's birth date.
    Young Grandchild SchemeYou are eligible if your grandchild is:

  • Below 16 years old.

  • Is a Singapore citizen.

  • Staying with you.
  • Aged Person SchemeYou are eligible if you or your spouse is:

  • Is a Singapore citizen or permanent resident married to a Singapore citizen.

  • At least 67 years old

  • Staying with you.
  • Persons With Disabilities (PWD) SchemeIf you have family member with medical condition which requires help with at least 1 activity of daily living (ADL) in your household.

    Examples of ADLs are showering, feeding, dressing or toileting.

    How To Apply For Levy Concession?

    If you are eligible for a levy concession, here’s how to apply for it:

    Oh, and in case you’re wondering. Here’s what you’ll need for the application process:

    • Your Foreign Domestic Worker’s work permit number
    • Your NRIC or FIN number
    • The personal details of the person you are applying the levy concession for

    Agency Cost For Maids

    money bag and hand

    With the increase in demand for maids, it’s natural that we would see an increase in maid agencies too.

    The best thing about this is that with all this competition, the agencies are constantly engaging in a price war by marketing their prices as the lowest in the market in a bid to get more business.

    While the prices are not easily available online, I spoke to a couple of maids and some agencies (who prefer to remain anonymous) and found out that the prevailing agency fee can range from as little as $0 to $2,000!

    If you’re looking to engage an agency which charges $0 maid agency fee, take note that they may be getting their cut from other miscellaneous costs that are factored into your hiring costs of a maid.

    Let’s go with a mid-range agency and peg the agency cost to be around $1,600.


    Air Ticket Cost To Repatriate A Maid

    Air Ticket

    Once their two years are up, the maids will naturally have to return to their home countries – if you’re not extending their tenure of course.

    The stand with most maid agencies is that the agency fee does not include the cost of air tickets for the maid’s journey home.

    This means that you will need to pay for the air tickets and depending on the home country of the maid, the price of the air ticket will vary accordingly.

    Based on my personal experience, setting aside $400 for air tickets is a safe amount.


    Settling-In Programme (SIP) Cost For A Maid

    Graduate Diploma

    If the maid you are engaging is working in Singapore for the first time, there is a compulsory Settling-In Programme (SIP) to help adjust the domestic helper to what living and working in Singapore would be like.

    Some of topics covered will be:

    • Introduction to Singapore
    • Conditions of Employment
    • Home Safety
    • Stress and Relationship Management, and etc…

    The SIP costs $75 (inclusive of GST). This cost is borne by the employer of the foreign domestic worker.


    Total Cost Of Work Permit Application For A Maid

    Contract And Stamp

    For the application for a work permit for your maid, the process can either be done by the maid employment agency or by you.

    Here’s how much it will cost in total to apply for a work permit for your maid:

    ProceduresHow Much Does It Cost?
    When your submit for application of work permit$35
    Issuing of employment pass$35
    Total$70

    Maid Insurance For Medical And Personal Accident

    Life Insurance

    It is compulsory for your maid to have medical and personal accident insurance. This is a requirement stated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

    The requirements are as follows:

    Type Of Maid Insurance CoverageAmount Of Coverage Requirement
    Medical InsuranceCoverage of at least $15,000 per year for inpatient care and day surgery.
    Personal Accident InsuranceSum assured of at least $60,000 per year.

    Policy must cover sudden and unexpected incidents that result in permanent disability or death.

    Policy must not contain extra exclusion clauses.

    Given that most maids are on a two-year contract, most insurance companies provide 26-month maid insurance coverage.

    The price of maid insurance is around $225 to $330 for 26 months.


    Semi-Annual Medical Check-Ups

    Medicine

    It is a must for maids to undergo a medical examination every 6 months. As an employer, you will receive an email or letter to remind you to bring their maid to the nearest clinic to do so.

    Depending on the clinic, this simple medical examination costs around $30 each visit. So a twice-yearly checkup will amount to $60 per year.

    If you are looking to extend the stay of your maid for more than 2 years, she will need to undergo an HIV and tuberculosis medical examination, which costs $30 and $40 respectively.


    Other Daily And Necessary Expenses

    Healthy Food

    Based on my personal experience, we had to prepare stuff like:

    • A new set of mattress, pillow, and blanket
    • A personal cupboard and closet for her clothes

    Basic stuff for her to settle in. And all of these necessities cost us around $300.

    On top of that, a domestic helper is like an additional family member. Meaning, that’s another mouth to feed as well. So naturally, there’re certain monthly recurring expenses that you’ll need to factor into the overall cost.

    Here’s a simple breakdown of the costs:

    Living ExpensesHow Much Does It Cost Per Month?How Much Does It Cost Per Year?
    Toiletries

    (Toothbrush, soap, toothpaste etc.)
    $20 to $30$240 to $360
    Food$200 - $300$2,400 to $3,600
    Transportation$20 - $50

    (Depending of the accessibility of your place to the nearest supermarket)
    $240 to $600

    Depending on a lot of factors, expect about an increase in household expenses of $240 to $380 per month.


    Additional Costs Of Hiring A Maid

    Security Bond/ Deposit

    Employers are required to leave a security deposit of about $5,000 with the Work Pass Division of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

    This is in the event that

    • You breached the contract with the maid, or go against MOM’s regulations
    • Your maid disappears
    • Your maid gets pregnant and you fail to repatriate the maid

    FYI: this deposit can be in the form of an Insurance Guarantee. So it doesn’t have to be paid fully in cash.

    Off Days Compensation

    It is strongly encouraged that foreign domestic workers enjoy a day off each week.

    Of course, there are cases where employers and their domestic helpers agree that she’ll also work on her off day. And if this is so, then she should be appropriately compensated with 1 day’s salary.

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    About Ming Feng
    A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
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