Hiring a Domestic Helper in Singapore: Agency or Direct Hire?

Foreign domestic workers (FDWs) have become an essential part of our lives – we can never have too many extra hands to help us with the numerous household chores and care for our loved ones. Hiring can, however, be a tough job. When it comes to scouting and hiring a housemaid in Singapore there are two distinct ways: either through an agency hire – i.e. going through a so-called ‘maid’ agency – or a direct hire – basically going for a DIY job. Obviously, both ways have their pros and cons.

Hiring yourself

Direct hire – i.e. taking ownership over the recruitment process and processing the paperwork yourself without the help of an agency – definitely has its perks as it allows you take full control over the hiring process and helps you reduce the costs associated with hiring a housemaid. First things first, you must look for a domestic helper on your own – there are many online forums, groups and notice boards where you can scout for a helper (word of mouth works well too!). HelperChoice can also be a great way to access and select from an extensive database of helper profiles looking to find employment in Singapore.

Once you have found your match – and conducted interviews yourself – you will have to process the documents. It has become increasingly easier to do so in the past few years as MoM has been introducing new tools such as the Ministry of Manpower’s eService which enables employers to apply online for a work permit for the candidate of their choice without the assistance of an agency. If you are already familiar with the whole hiring process or if you have already found your match then direct hire might be the solution for you. Direct hire can also be a good option if you are planning on hiring a transfer helper.


Opting for agency hire

Hiring can be costly and time-consuming. It can also be sometimes quite tedious –especially for first-time employers. In certain cases, going through an agency can be helpful as the agency processes all the necessary paperwork to ensure that the helper of your choice gets a work permit. However, finding the right agency is not that easy as there are many out there and you need to make sure that they have no unethical practices–it can be as difficult as finding the right helper!

If you decide to go for agency hire, make sure that you approach your selected agency with your main requirements ready. Based on those, the agency will try to find a perfect match by selecting certain profiles among their pool of profiles. Resorting to an agency can be the smartest move (obviously, if you manage to find the right pick!) if you do not have much time to dedicate to the recruitment process as the agency will do all the work and hand the best matches on a silver platter! We recommend that you take time though to interview the various candidates.

Keep in mind that going through an agency can be extremely costly. Some of them charge exorbitant amounts, so make sure that you carefully pick your agency and that it is a licensed one (have a look at MoM’s list of licensed agencies). Fees vary greatly– don’t expect anything less than $400 – and can go as high as $2,000. So, you might want to do a little scouting first to find the agency that best matches your criteria in terms of price and desired services. If you are in need of an ethical agency to help with the paperwork, ask for a quotation here.

Before making any decision as to the way you want to hire a housemaid, make sure that you understand the cost and benefits of both ways and that you weigh the pros and cons of both options.