Foreign Domestic Worker

I was strong-armed by my mum to employ a domestic helper from the Philippines and so, made a trip to the maid agency last Saturday. Did a phone interview with a maid with experience in Kuwait taking care of 4 children, youngest being 3 months old when she started and 1 year 3 months when she ended. This girl (I say girl but she’s actually about my age or older) seemed quite together and spoke pretty good english. With the Filippino accent of course but otherwise good enough. So we agreed to go with this girl and signed up with this maid agency.

Next step is to take the Employer’s Orientation Programme and pass the exam. Piece of cake I thought, given that the agency said the online programme is available 24 hours. I thought I’ll just log on, make credit card payment and whiz through the programme (which allegedly takes 3 hours). Not as quick and pain free as I thought! The programme was not run by MOM but by Singapore Polytechnic. Hence application and payment modes track their other courses. Confirmation of registration and payment will only be emailed the next working day. Only after that can I log on for the course with my Singpass. Will update on how smooth that process goes.

The agent I was speaking to is a really nice, slightly old lady who is extremely chatty but I have difficulty understanding her sometimes. For example, when telling me about the employer’s orientation programme, she suddenly shouts “remember penal code every 6 months”. Which got us completely confused. Did she mean we needed to renew a course relating to the Penal Code every 6 months? Why would a layman employer need to have such updated knowledge of the Penal Code? Only after asking many times did we realise that she meant that the answers to one of the questions was that the Penal Code was amended every 6 months, which a lot of her customers got wrong. But wait a minute, that is incorrect! As far as I am aware (being a lawyer albeit not a criminal lawyer and never paying much attention to the Penal Code as a result), the Penal Code was last amended in 2007 (more than 6 months ago) and before that in 1998. In fact, whenever amendments to the Penal Code came up for discussion, the criticism would always be that it is outdated. Oh well, I lets see what the course says about the Penal Code…

Meanwhile, a calculation of the costs involved in employing a FDW:

1) Agency fees: $488 (I think this is on the high side but this agency came highly recommended so I’m keeping my fingers crossed)

2) Insurance: approx $320 (we took the best plan because the husband said the maid was already really miserable having to come all teh way here to work, we should ensure she is covered if anything happens to her)

3) Misc other payments through agency (e.g. hep b screening): approx $200

4) Loan: approximately $2600, depending on what happens in Philippines, which can be uncertain with the current situation

5) Monthly salary: We were told we may need to pay this girl $380 because she came with experience.

6) Government levy: $170 (concession rate)

7) Furniture: not sure but intend to spend approx $300 for bed and small wardrobe. Or can she just store her clothes in Ikea drawers? She wouldn’t have work clothes that she needs to hand up, just t-shirts and pants mostly. Hmm…

8) Food and toiletries and clothes: approx $100-200 monthly. This maid was provided all of these including a uniform in Kuwait. Friends’ experience is that their maids buy their own clothes but I suppose its ok to provide.


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