Hiring domestic help? Here’s how to pick a good maid agency that will actually help make things easier
At some point in our lives, while we’re busy juggling work, maintaining the household, our relationship with our kids and squeezing in that almost non-existent social life, we just have to stop and consider opportunity costs.
If you have reached the financial capability to hire domestic help, and if it is going to tremendously improve your quality of life at home and work, why not do it?
Hiring domestic help can be a daunting task in Singapore, especially with many negative stories about domestic helpers appearing in the news. You’re entrusting someone to care for your kids, your valuables at home and even your meals. Of course, you want to be extra careful with hiring the right one.
So, as you embark on this process, here’s what you need to know in terms of picking a good maid agency that will actually help you make life easier (because after all, if you get a crappy maid agency, chances are, the whole process is going to be more of a headache than a relief).
1. Refer to credible sources when picking the maid agency
If you have had multiple friends and family members who already hired from a particular agency, and this agency comes highly recommended, then by all means, go ahead with the recommendation. Sure, Google is a good starting point, but you will always want to get real life reviews from people you trust before handing your hard-earned money over to just any agency to get your domestic helper. To be extra careful, you can even refer to the Ministry of Manpower’s website for a list of reputable maid agencies.
2. Get historical data on the maid agency
It is always good to ask plenty of questions when engaging a maid agency for the first time. Ask them about their turnover, accident rate, insurance plans, refund policy, replacement help policies and more. If they are unable to answer these questions, then that should set off some alarms.
3. Pick an agency whose fees are neither too low or high
If you’re paying only $100 for an agency fee, it may sound like a great deal to you, but there could be plenty of hidden costs. Anything that sounds too good to be true typically is. A good range to be paying an agency for their upfront fee is from $500 to $2600. If you’re paying anything more or less than that, get a breakdown to see where exactly your money is going into.
4. Pick an agency that specialises in the nationality of the helper you’re looking for
You should consider this quite carefully – if you want a Filipino, Indonesian, Sri Lankan, Burmese or Cambodian helper. Depending on which nationality you pick, you could be facing communication issues (language barrier). You would also want a live-in helper whose culture is as close to yours as possible – it would help with the cooking and values passed on to your kids. Agencies that specialise in a certain nationality would better be able to help bridge any potential gap between you as the employer and the helper.
5. Interview your potential candidates first
Most good agencies will allow you to interview the helpers first. A decade or so ago, domestic helpers were hired just based on their biodata, a slip of paper that employers would sift through to find the best candidate. Nowadays, with technology, interviewing the helper first is a norm. Many employers prefer to speak to them on the phone or through a video call if they are back in their home countries. For transfers, agencies would be able to arrange a time slot for the helper to visit your home as part of their interview process.