Is There a Probationary Period when I Hire a Domestic Worker?

Helper in Singapore

Before hiring a foreign domestic worker (FDW), it is essential to have a good knowledge and understanding of your rights and obligations as an employer and those of your employee-to-be. Here is everything you need to know about probationary periods.

Is there a probationary period for FDWs?

Employers often assume that foreign domestic helpers have to undergo a probationary period to evaluate whether they are a ‘good fit’ and after which both parties can decide whether to go on with the working relationship or terminate it in an easy way. The domestic work industry is one of the few industries in Hong Kong and Singapore where the probationary period rule for foreign domestic workers does not apply.

Why is there no probationary period?

Introducing a probationary period could be detrimental to the industry as it might affect the number of foreign domestic workers willing to leave their home country to work in countries like Hong Kong and Singapore. Such measure would also take a toll on FDWs should they not pass the probation as they incur significant costs to secure employment– it often takes them several months of work to be able to cover the costs incurred.

What if my helper and I come to an agreement?

It is unlikely that any job seeker would agree to such a thing as the costs incurred – should you decide to dismiss her after the probationary period – would be unbearable for many. No matter what, adding such a clause to the employment contract would not relieve you of your obligations – including paying for travel fees back to her country of origin – should you decide to break the contract and dismiss her.

How to maximize my chances of finding someone who meets my needs?

Since there is no probationary period to assess whether your decision of hiring a particular applicant is the good one – and given the high costs incurred by both parties involved – it is crucial to give an extra thought to the hiring process. To maximize your chances of finding the helper who meets your needs and requirements, get involved as much as you can and if possible conduct the interviews yourself to get a feel of each applicant. After all, who knows your family better than you? Review and meet up with relevant profiles. Get in touch with their previous employers. If possible, get them to come to your place as part of the interview process, engage them through real-life scenarios, and observe how they interact with your family.

What are my options if I am not pleased with my helper’s work?

If after a few months you are still not content with your helper’s work you have the option to terminate her. Keep in mind that, once your helper’s visa is approved by the authorities, you – as an employer – will be responsible for your helper and will be expected to bear all the costs associated with her returning to her country of origin. Employers may terminate their employee giving them at least one month’s notice for Hong-Kong-based employers and as per the employment contract for Singapore-based employers or by paying them in-lieu.