Family Life

Hiring A Foreign Domestic Helper In Singapore

Guide To Getting A Helping Hand

domestic helpers singapore

Helping hands aren’t hard to come by in Singapore, as there’s a wealth of options available. But knowing where to start looking, where to go, and whom to speak to are crucial when it comes to finding the right fit – luckily Little Steps is here to help! Here is the guide to a foreign domestic helper/maid in Singapore.

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  • Hiring help is not a decision to be taken lightly, because it means you’ll be introducing an additional person into your household. Whether your needs are for a housekeeper, a nanny, or both, or for someone to help with aging parents, your new helper must be right for the role you require them to fill.

Aside from the changes in the family’s structure, you also have to consider being ready financially as the costs of hiring help do not come lightly. There’s an agency fee, the airfare for the help, the medical fees, the bond, the insurance, and a government levy fee, to name a few.

Here are the steps that you can follow to hire help in Singapore.


    Before you can even apply for a work pass, you need to pass the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) employer requirements. There are three major requirements:

    1. Aged 21 and above
    2. Not be an undischarged bankrupt
    3. Have the mental capacity to be an employer (understand and discharge your responsibilities)

    The MOM will also take into consideration the nature of your needs whether it be for an elderly in the family or a small child. They will also check your financial capabilities - maintenance and upkeep for the helper is also your responsibility.

    You, as an employer, would need to abide by the guidelines set up by the MOM. Plus, if you are a first-time employer of an MDW, you need to attend the orientation program.

    You should not be diagnosed with any medical condition that would impair your ability to exercise supervision and control over the well-being of the helper.

    Examples of such medical conditions include Alzheimer, dementia and schizophrenia which can cause symptoms such as severe memory lapses, confusion, emotional instability, progressive loss of mental ability, paranoia, etc.


    It's also important to know that migrant domestic helpers also have eligibility requirements before they can be issued work passes. Helpers should be 23 to 50 years old and if they are more than 50 years old can only renew permits until they are 60. The most common countries of origin are the following (though not limited to): Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Thailand. A recognized certificate for a minimum of 8 years of formal education is also required.

    If it's your helper's first time working as a migrant domestic helper, she should attend the Settling-In Programme (SIP). To be considered a first-time helper, she should not have any employment record with the Ministry of Manpower, or she could have an employment record but did not enter Singapore to work.

    Another important thing to note is that the helper should not be in Singapore at the time of the work permit application (unless she is a Malaysian citizen).


    The best way to start your search is through an agency in Singapore that is accredited by the Ministry of Manpower. Here is a list of agencies. Take note that agency fees vary between SG$100 to SG$2,000. But using an agency will give you peace of mind and security, as you'll know that everything has been covered and signed off on.


    Once you have chosen your MDW, there are several steps that you need to undergo. However, the employment agency will do this for you. The requirements include:

    1. Work permit application
    2. (If eligible) Apply under a special scheme: employers can apply for a work permit for the MDW with a joint income scheme or a sponsorship scheme. Click here to learn more.
    3. Buy security bond: a SG$5,000 security bond for each helper you employ is required, except for Malaysian helpers.
    4. Buy medical and personal accident insurance: coverage of at least $15,000 per year for inpatient care and day surgery is required for your helper
    5. (First-time MDW) Register MDW for Settling-In Programme

    If you have employed the services of an agency to get your MDW, the aforementioned requirements are good to know. But the agency will be doing all the paperwork for you.


    Settling-In Programme

    • Once your helper arrives in Singapore, if she is a first-time MDW, she has to attend the SIP within 3 days of completing her stay-home notice (SHN). A stay-home notice is for individuals granted entry into Singapore. They are required to stay at home or in a facility for 7 days, or once their covid-19 tests return negative (whichever is the longer period).

    Pre-employment Medical Examination

    • Your MDW should undergo a medical examination before their work permit can be issued and this should be done within 2 weeks upon arrival or a week after the SHN. Ensure that she has these medical documents.
    • You will be able to get her work permit once she passes the medical examination. The tests consist of screening for infectious diseases (tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis, and malaria) and if she is fit to work. If she fails, she will be sent home.

    Get the work permit issued

    • The temporary work permit is good for one month, while you wait for your MDW's work permit card.

    Registration of fingerprints and photo

    • Within a week after the temporary work permit gets issued, check if your MDW requires her fingerprints and photo to be taken. You should make an appointment for her, here. Ensure that she brings the following with her:
      • Original passport
      • Appointment letter
      • Temporary Work Permit

    Receive the work permit card

      • This will be delivered to your address within 4 business days after your MDW registers and gets her documents verified. If card delivery fails twice, you can collect it 3 working days after the second attempted delivery. You will need the following documents:
        • Helper's original passport
        • Temporary Work Permit

    A monthly levy rate is required for your MDW and can be paid through GIRO. The monthly levy rate for your first helper is SG$300 (daily is SG$9.87). If you have a second helper, the monthly rate is SG$450 (daily is SG$14.80). If your family has a young child, an elderly or a person with a disability, you can get the concessionary rate of $60 per month (a daily rate of SG$1.98). Check here if you are eligible for the rate. The daily rate is applicable if your helper did not finish a full calendar month.

    Every six months, your MDW should have her medical examination. This should be conducted by a Singaporean registered physician. The tests include:

    • Pregnancy and VDRL- every 6 months
    • HIV - every 2 years
    • TB- Once, after 2 years of stay in Singapore
    • Checks on Body Mass Index (BMI) and visible signs of abuse

    If you wish to renew your MDW's work permit, the duration will be up to 2 years. You will receive a letter from the MOM around 8 weeks before it expires. Once you receive the renewal letter, you can renew it online. The renewal costs are the same as the application which is SG$35.

    • For more details, you can check MOM here.

    If your helper needs or wants to spruce up their skills, there are plenty of courses available. Mother & Child offers a first aid course which is extremely beneficial if your helper will be looking after little ones. For a list of classes, check out this Little Steps Guide!


    Your helper will be part of your household. Treat them well and look after them. This is a reciprocal relationship built on trust. For more information, visit the Ministry of Manpower’s website.

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