Maid Agency’s changing world
In this time of internet proliferation and increased availability of online services, middle men and service providers are forced to change their business model. Many retailers, agents and brokers are changing. How about the maid agency? is it still relevant? or can you do without? What is the impact of internet is on its business?
The biggest benefit of businesses going online is that the processes becomes very structured and efficient. That reduces costs, improves accuracy, enhances speed and makes for a good customer experience. All good, but how about the drawbacks? A structured process also means less ability for your service provider to be flexible and cater for exceptional circumstances or special requirements. This is a by-product of digitisation in general. Everything needs to fit into zero-s and one-s, black and white, without much room for grey. At best, if you are lucky, you are not the only exception and your need becomes an option or feature in “the process”. Back to the maid agency (a.k.a. foreign domestic worker employment agency).
The good old days
In “the old days” your maid agency was an almost unavoidable part(ner) in the maid hiring process. You would pretty much outsource all your needs and the maid would almost literally be “delivered on your doorstep”. Since that time a few things have changed. Absence of sufficient supervision has in the past sometimes led to practices that are unfair, unhealthy or undesirable. So, the government has stepped up regulation for employment agencies to ensure good practices. In order to enable better supervision rules have been better defined and processes clarified and structured. This has helped to create much more transparency and has lifted some of the veils on the maid agency process.
The transparency and clarification has also made it easier for people to consider not using a maid agency at all and to DIY (“do it yourself”) the process. Is that a good idea we wonder? The maid hiring process can be divided a few major processes:
- Finding or sourcing the maid
- Employing the maid
1. Finding your Maid
Easiest and quickest is to find a “transfer maid”. Someone that is already in Singapore. In that case there is no real need to use a maid agency. You can of course. But the added value is limited other than that they may have a few maids “in stock or on hold” that are immediately available. Choice will be limited though, so you may have to compromise on your list of requirements.
If not a transfer maid, the maid needs to be recruited in her home country. FDW Employment Agents tend to work with “recruiters” in the maid’s home countries.
For you to source your own maid in Singapore you can use one of the many websites or your personal contacts or social media presence. A smart way to find a maid in Singapore that will be available soon and is looking for a new employer. If you prefer a new recruit then you need to go abroad. You will however probably not have the same access to the services of these local recruiters as an agent has.
What you do have access to however is the internet, social media and new budding websites for aspiring or experienced maids. Aspiring maids tend to follow a trodden path and that path may still lead through the agency that their sister, cousin or friend used. There is a certain sense of comfort in that. However, the world is globalising and now the internet connected maid can find out a lot more about their future employer than in the past. Particularly now she already knows who she may be working for and if the employer is open to sharing some of their social website information. That may take away a lot of hesitation or even encourage the maid to start looking for an employer without the use of the agent.
Going direct will also save costs
Going direct will also save costs, this will be to the benefit of both employer and maid. The service of the local recruiter goes a little further though than just finding candidates. They will also help to arrange documentation such as passports and possibly even provide some training. So in case you as a future employer opt to DIY, you need to be prepared to help a future maid that is still in her home country to obtain a passport and possible documentation that is required.
A final thought here is that the practices of the local recruiters fall outside the purview of Singapore’s supervision and that it is well known that not all agencies deploy acceptable working practices. Avoiding them is a way to play safe and ensure that maids do not fall victim to ill treatment.
2. Employing the Maid
Traditionally, the second task of the agent is to help you to get the Singapore work pass. This is however a process that can now easily be done by the future employer without help of a maid agency. The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) website is very informative and the application process is very structured. If you would like to have a quick overview how it works then read an earlier article we wrote “how to hire a maid in 10 steps” or just visit the MoM website and see for yourself how easy it is. If your future maid has her papers ready then you can finalise the entire process in 1-2 weeks.3
All fine so far. No real need for an employment agency. You have saved a lot of money (probably SGD 1000-4000) and have not had to deal with the agency and you have found a maid that perfectly meets you requirements. So it seemed, but sometimes trouble arises and the match does not appear as good as you had hoped for. The maid may get homesick, may not meet your expectations or not behave in an appropriate manner.
The biggest benefit we see in an employment agency is its ability to take back your maid and provide a substitute. That assumes that you have dealt with an agency that is big and has a good “bench of maids” providing you with at least a little bit of choice.
If you have hired the maid directly, you only have the choice of sending her back (and start the hiring process again) or the encourage her to transfer and start looking for a new employer and to transfer after she has found a new employer. Until such time you will be responsible for her. If you think this important and therefore use a maid agency, we would recommend that you use a big one with a good reputation. MoM is keeping a directory of FDW employment agencies where you can also find scorecards based on their on customer reviews.
Particularly for transfer maids you do not really need a maid agency. It is easy to do it yourself and will take you just a few hours to do. It will save you a lot of money and provide you better control over the situation. Do make sure that you select a maid that you really feel good about. Invest a little time in a good interview process, which can be done in person if in Singapore or through Facetime or equivalent if abroad. Perhaps get some references and study their public social profile. Particularly if you bring your maid in from abroad making sure you have a good match is key. Once you are certain about that, again, you no longer need to use a maid agency..
Part of the hiring process is for you to get maid insurance, which is mandatory. If you want to have an overview of what is available, compare different coverage types and prices and buy online then please visit Insurance Market.
At Insurance Market we are serious about insurance and facilitate parties coming together to transact insurance only in the best and most responsible manner. Insurance Market offers a wide range of general online insurance products (such as travel insurance, maid insurance, pet insurance and more) and life insurance through personal advice from our qualified brokers.