Hiring a helper but not sure where to start, mama? Here’s what you need to know about the hiring process in Singapore
Hiring a helper is a process that many employers – particularly expats – come into blindly. Besides the importance of finding a helper who is the right fit for your family, there is much paperwork and bureaucracy that accompanies the process; rules and fees can differ based on a helper’s nationality, years of experience, and whether she’s a transfer or direct hire. For starters, check out the Ministry of Manpower (M.O.M.)’s guidelines, which outline requirements like the online Employer Orientation Programme, how to cover a bond, the $265 monthly levy and more.
Employment agencies are a vital part of the helper hiring process and can help you better understand all these guidelines. The thing is, there are literally thousands of them in Singapore, ranging from well-established companies to shoestring operations that can be shady and deceptive to helpers and employers alike. We applaud the M.O.M. for making employment agency data as transparent as possible. With their extensive database you can not only search agencies by name, but also check which agencies are under surveillance or have received demerits from the M.O.M. Employers are also able to rate agencies on a scale of 1 to 5, with all scores easily viewable.
To check the data for every agency in Singapore (nearly 4,000 of ‘em!), just click “Search Agencies”, then click “Download” to put into a sortable Excel file. This is key because it allows you to view three important factors:
- Retention Rate
This is the percentage of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) placed by the agency who stay with the same employer for at least one year (a standard contract lasts for two years). It’s always good to see that someone is steadily employed, and that the relationship is seemingly beneficial for both parties. The industry average is 48.18% — the top agencies have retention rates in the high 50s or 60s (some small agencies have even higher averages, but this is amongst agencies that also have a high volume of placements).
- Transfer Rate
This is the percentage of FDWs who have transferred to three or more employers within one year – that’s a major red flag, mama. The industry average is 1.65%.
- Placement Volume
This is the number of FDW workpasses applied for by an agency. A high volume (the industry average is 81.36) indicates that an agency probably runs pretty professionally and would generally have better resources in terms of responsiveness to a problem (for instance if you need to hire a replacement helper) and housing (as helpers stay in dorms before they are hired, and can also live in them while employers are away). Of course the flipside to this is that both employers and helpers are less likely to get the personal touch that might come with a smaller agency.
Other factors to consider include the fees charged to both helpers and employers; most agencies charge helpers a sort of finders fee that can take up to eight months to pay back. Can you imagine working eight months without making any salary? While employers have the option of covering this fee (usually around $1,000) it’s obviously a high up-front cost for everyone involved; some agencies don’t charge this fee to helpers, and we think it’s worth employers absorbing some of the cost. When you a hire transfer helper this fee isn’t involved, which is part of why it’s a popular option.
Read more: Top 10 Tips for Managing Your New Helper
Beyond the initial hiring process – when you describe your needs to an agency then interview suitable candidates – agencies can assist further down the line with issues like renewing contracts, arranging home leave for your helper, and helping you find a replacement helper if your initial hire doesn’t work out (hey, it happens!). In the unfortunate circumstance where your helper gets into legal trouble or you find cause for immediate termination, an agency can also be very helpful with the repatriation process (although shady agencies have been known to simply send helpers back out to new families!).
As an alternative to agencies, particuarly if you hire a transfer helper, you can either handle the paperwork yourself through M.O.M., or hire a paperwork specialist to streamline the process at a much lower cost. The downsides to these options are that they can be more time consuming, and you’re on your own if something goes wrong.
In the meantime, mama, we’ve scoured the data and shared our own personal experiences to come up with a list of some of the top helper agencies in Singapore. If you’re looking for a good starting point (because again, choosing from nearly 4,000 agencies can be pretty overwhelming!), you’ve come to the right place.
Retention Rate: 57.12%
Transfer Rate: 0.98%
Placement Volume: 345
One of the largest and most reputable agencies in Singapore with over 30 years’ experience, Universal is a big, professional operation with a great website and an office conveniently located right on Orchard Road at Lucky Plaza. They specialize in experienced transfer helpers, and also offer helpers who are trained caregivers for the elderly. Fees are on the higher side, but as they say, you get what you pay for!
“Universal helped us sort out the complex details of bringing our helper over from the Philippines – from arranging flights and all paperwork, to closely monitoring medical checks – and they were always prompt, courteous and professional in our dealings, both in person and over email and the phone.”
Quote SassyRenew and get a Free Maid (FDW) Work Permit Renewal Service worth $180!
Retention Rate: 57.49%
Transfer Rate: 2.16%
Placement Volume: 155
With 14 years of experience, this more boutique agency takes a personal yet professional approach to the helper hiring process. Their philosophy is all about viewing the process not as a onetime transaction, but as a journey for both the family and the helper to ensure that everyone is happy and finds the right fit.
Retention Rate: 53.07%
Transfer Rate: 4.05%
Placement Volume: 180
Another one of Singapore’s most longstanding agencies, Jobuzz has been around for more than 20 years, and offers both transfer helpers and new helpers from the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. They’re happy to arrange for interviews with transfer candidates on Sundays, and can also assist with direct hire documentation, passport renewal, insurance and repatriation if need be.
Jobuzz is offering Sassy Mama readers a free waiver of counter indemnity insurance when they hire through the agency.
Retention Rate: 62.89%
Transfer Rate: 0%
Placement Volume: 75
Started in 2012, Anisya is an open employment marketplace where FDWs and employers can come together. It empowers helpers to post their own information and set their own preferences free of charge, and employers can also view profiles for free (though they pay to access more information, or post their info for helpers to respond to). We think it’s fab that fees are kept low for everyone and that the website does so much to empower helpers, who can sometimes be rendered helpless in the hiring process. Their numbers are amazing, too!
Retention Rate: 59.87%
Transfer Rate: .23%
Placement Volume: 493
One of Singapore’s largest agencies, G&A also sports an excellent transfer rate and is among the most recommended for warm, professional service and very fair fees that never take advantage of helpers. Thumbs up as well for a convenient location along Orchard at Far East Shopping Centre.
G&A Services, 545 Orchard Road, #05-22 Far East Shopping Centre, Singapore 238882 **(Between Hilton Hotel & Wheelock Place
and facing the Thai Embassy), Tel: (+65) 6235 6265, [email protected]
Retention Rate: 61.88%
Transfer Rate: 1.78%
Placement Volume: 324
Specializing in helpers from Indonesia (where they have their own recruitment and training centres), Jayamaids has over 20 years’ experience and has catered to more than 30,000 satisfied customers over the years. We’re impressed by their numbers, along with their straightforward website and the fact that they have two convenient locations.
Jayamaids Yio Chu Kang, 78 Yio Chu Kang Road #01-03, Singapore 545571, Tel: (+65) 6284 2900
Jayamaids Hougang Green, 21 Hougang St 51 #01-14, Hougang Green Shopping Mall, Singapore 538719, Tel: (+65) 6387 0900
Retention Rate: 68.79%
Transfer Rate: 0%
Placement Volume: 495
With outstanding numbers across the board, heaps of personal recommendations, and 27 years of experience, Prestige is consistently rated as one of Singapore’s top employment agencies.
“I use Prestige for all our OEC paperwork and for approved contracts etc. They are super speedy and always very quick to deal with our requests. They are very knowledgable on all the M.O.M. rules and have a good relationship with the embassies. Highly recommend!”
Retention Rate: 58.79%
Transfer Rate: 1.8%
Placement Volume: 249
“SG Manpower helped us to hire our transfer maid, giving us a hands-off approach to processing all paperwork, move in, and developing our own personal requirements within the contract. Our helper has been with us for over 5 years so far!”
SG Manpower, www.singaporemaid.com
Brought to you in partnership with IMTIDAD, Contact Asia, G&A Services, Jobuzz Consultants, Universal Employment Agency