How to Hire a Foreign Domestic Worker – FDW- In Singapore in 10 Easy Steps in 2020?

Are you new to hiring a maid or are you considering to go DIY and no longer use a maid agency? Then this article is for you.Learn how to hire a Foreign Domestic Worker – FDW in Singapore. It is simple. We share all the important facts and provide you with 10 easy steps to manage and control the maid hiring process yourself.

As most of us know, Singapore employs 253,800 (2018) foreign domestic workers and with the aging population that number is likely to grow. In this article we will refer to them as FDW, but they are commonly also more lovingly referred to as our maids or helpers.

Engaging a FDW is a personal but also a financial commitment. Therefore, before getting into the hiring process itself it is perhaps good to spend a moment to consider the major cost elements first. It will help you to take an informed decision on whether you are willing and able to make the commitment and to see if and where you can perhaps economise on the costs a little.

The costs of a Foreign Domestic Worker

There are 4 major elements to the costs;

  1. hiring costs,
  2. the monthly salary,
  3. the monthly levy you need to pay the government and
  4. the living expenses

The first step is to find the helper of your choice. Traditionally there has been a role for maid agencies who often would have a few candidates in transfer. However, working with a maid agency has gone out of vogue a little. With the arrival of the internet both finding and hiring a maid that meets your specific requirements has become much easier and may be the best opportunity to save a lot of money too, as you will read next!

1. FDW hiring costs:

If to hire a foreign domestic worker – FDW and you use a maid agency, then the agency will expect a placement fee. This is usually around SGD 2000. Agencies are not supposed to charge the maid more than 2 months salary. The maid pays this by agreeing that the employer can deduct an amount from their initial wage payments through a loan structure. (Note that on top of this the maid may also be charged in their country of origin). Although that is easy for you, it can be a bit of a rough start for the FDW and you may end up paying for it indirectly through a higher salary. So we do not recommend it. The DIY route may save you and your FDW a lot of money and hassle. About the steps more later, lets first finish on the costs.

There will be other hiring expenses on top of the placement fee. Depending on circumstances you may need to pay for the travel ticket of the FDW and for the fees of MoM and the required courses (about which more later) that need to be attended by you and your FDW to ensure that both of you are adequately prepared for your roles. These course fees may add up to an outlay of some SGD 100-120.

2. FDW Salary Costs

The salary costs for a maid will depend on the profile of the maid. Filipina’s typically command the highest salary because of their good command of the English language and good education. Indonesian FDW’s may speak Chinese, in which case they will also be a little more pricey. Experience is of course also an important factor, as is age and maturity. A good benchmark to go by is SGD 450-700, but lesser- or better qualified FDW’s may be cheaper or more expensive.

3. Monthly Levy Costs for FDW

To hire a foreign domestic worker – FDW, the government charges employers a levy of $300 per month for the first maid hired and $450 for the second. Employers aged 67+ or with Singaporean children and grandchildren at home qualify for a concessionary rate of $60.

4. FDW Living Expenses

The FDW adds an additional adult to your household. This will increase your monthly household expenses by at least SGD 250. Think additional water and electricity, groceries, public transportation costs and other basic necessities. On top of that you will need to give her and your family some privacy and make sure that your dwelling allows for that.

Before being awarded a work pass for a foreign domestic worker – FDW, you also need to acquire the mandatory maid insurance policy  This policy provides for the mandatory medical and personal accident insurance. You also need to provide MoM with a security bond, which can be included in the insurance package. A security bond is a binding pledge to pay the government (up to $5,000) if you break the law or the conditions governing the employment of a helper. When this Bond option in the policy is activated, the insurer guarantees to pay the government on your behalf first; then the insurer will claim back the money from you. In most maid insurances it is already included by default. On top of that you can also opt to buy a waiver of indemnity so that the insurer will not claim the money back from you if there is a claim. A Waiver of Indemnity protects you in the event that the Security Bond is forfeited, you will only need to pay a small sum called excess (normally $250) while the insurer takes care of the balance payment. This benefit is available for an additional premium. An important point to note is this benefit will not be payable in the event of any breach by the insured (employer) of the conditions of the Security Bond imposed by MOM. Learn more on this subject at

Maid Insurance, depending on the coverage you choose can cost you between SGD 180-400 for 2 years.

hire a foreign domestic worker - FDW

What are the work permit requirements for a FWD?

To be granted a work permit, a FDW must:

  • Be female, 23 – 50 years old and have at least 8 years of formal education (to be evidenced).
  • Be from Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan or Thailand.

Now you are aware of the requirements and commitments you are entering into, how to go about the process and finding and hiring your FDW? Here is how to do it in 10 simple steps:

Here are 10 easy steps for FDW employers;

  1. Check if you pass the qualifying criteria. You have to be able to demonstrate that they can afford to take good care of the maid and take a mandatory course if they are a first time employer. The course is provided by the Ministry of Manpower and can be taken online (S$40, in English) or in person ($30, in English / Mandarin).
  2. Identify suitable candidates and conduct an interview process, either by video or in person. Finding candidates who are already in the country can be advantageous. In that case the work permit can be transferred and you can conduct the interview at your residence.
  3. Agree employment terms and sign an employment contract with the maid. It is good to check with your domestic helper’s embassy whether any additional documents or procedures are required from on their part.
  4. Apply online for a work permit from the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) . The application is processed in one working day. To apply, you require the maid’s passport details, and written consent (e.g. the signed employment contract).

Upon approval,

  1. Now forward a copy of the “in principle approval letter (“IPA”)  to your helper, so that she can enter the country. You will have received the IPA from MoM together with an “SB Transmission Number” (SB stands for Security Bond – see below). Make a note of both numbers.
  2. Buy a maid insurance policy (includes medical and personal accident insurance) and a security bond (optionally included in the insurance policy). For this you need the IPA and SB numbers above. 
  3. Pay the monthly employers levy of $300. Employers aged 67+ or with Singaporean children and grandchildren at home qualify for a concessionary rate of $60.
  4. For a direct hire, make travel arrangements. It may be smart to pick your maid up from the airport and have all important documents relating to her employment with you.
  5. Upon her arrival in Singapore, finalise the work permit process online. Your helper may need to have her fingerprints and a photo taken at MoM for her pass to be issued.
  6. Take good care of your maid and be aware of the legal requirements, e.g.:
  • suitable accommodation in your house,
  • pay her salary on time,
  • provide enough food,
  • ensure that she does not miss her 6-monthly medical examination.
  • give a weekly rest day

First-time maids in Singapore:

  1. must attend a one day settling-in programme within 3 working days of arriving (costs $75 payable by employer).
  2. may be invited to attend an interview with the Ministry of Manpower after their first month of work, to discuss how she is adapting to her work and if she is well looked after.

We have written this article because at Insurance Market we make it our goal to offer people peace of mind and good information to enable well informed decision making. To prevent problems and disappointments is better than having to fix them. We truly hope this is of help and that you will find the perfect addition to your household.

Helpful Links



Employer’s Orientation Programme (EOP)

SIP Course

Philippine Embassy in Singapore

Indonesian Embassy in Singapore

Myanmar Embassy Singapore


Singapore Police Force

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