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Ask Andreas: the lowdown on maid agencies

ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExpertsFamily LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life - Post Category - Domestic HelpersDomestic Helpers


We have the best Agony Uncle at Sassy Mama – Andreas is the author of one of our most-recommended books: Hiring & Managing Domestic Help. It’s an absolute must-have for Singapore mamas and you canbuy it here!

This week, we get the lowdown on agencies for helpers…

I’ve heard that it’s best not to use agencies to find new helpers as they charge the helpers a huge amount to find their places, but I’m running out of options. How can I be sure that an agency is reputable and can you recommend any?

Some agencies do gouge helpers, demanding half a year’s salary or more from the helper even for listing her. This is obviously despicable behaviour. However, by the same token, many agencies charge a reasonable amount (up to one month’s salary). In Singapore the legal fee cap is one month of salary per year of contract/Work pass, with a maximum of two months’ salary.

A good and trusted agency can be invaluable in helping you find a helper and managing the hiring process. But don’t expect them to screen the candidates. Agencies are, as a rule, not headhunters in the office work recruiting sense. An agency will find candidates for you but it is your job to screen and select. In the end, you are the one who knows what kind of person will work in your family.

You should do your homework first by searching the Ministry of Manpower directory of agencies here. The page includes a report of agencies under surveillance for suspected infringement of the Employment Agencies Act, as well as a list of agencies with revoked licenses.

Ask the agency how much they charge job seekers. Make sure you get the whole picture, including any fees charged in the helper’s home country, and if the candidates are charged for “mandatory” training courses.

More details on fee caps can be found here.

For the only guide you’ll ever need on working with a helper, check out Andreas’ fab book ‘Hiring and Managing Domestic Help’ and buy it here.

Do you have a question for Andreas? Email [email protected] with the subject line “Ask Andreas” and we’ll make sure it gets answered on the site!


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