Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The long, long road to hiring a foreign domestic worker in Singapore

One of the things we worried about in our move back to Singapore was being able to find good nannies/maids who could help take care of our kids. For a while we contemplated getting relatives here on visit passes and having them help with the kids. Cheaper probably, but I didn't want to disrupt the kids' lives by having people come and go for short periods of time. So we opted to hire nannies. From the very start, we wanted to make sure whoever we eventually brought to Singapore with us would have spent sufficient time caring for our kids in Manila. It didn't matter if those nannies had no previous work records in Singapore. We were willing to go through the process of applying for an FDW (foreign domestic worker is the official term for maids in Singapore) as long as the people we found were good at what they do and showed genuine concern for our children.

Applying for an FDW in Singapore is actually quite straightforward. All the information you need can be found in the government's manpower website www.mom.gov.sg and these include a step-by-step process on how to do it as well as an online platform for submissions done electronically. The response time is absolutely brilliant as well as you can get results the following day (for in principle approval letters) or within the same hour (for issuance of work permits).

The whole process does take a bit of time though and a fair amount of money. Please see cost breakdown below:

Fees (for each FDW application):
Online application to get in-principle approval letter - SGD20
Insurance policy and Security Bond (obtained via phone call with policy mailed to residence) - SGD130
Entrance Test and Work Safety Seminar (required for first-time FDWs) - SGD35
Medical exam - SGD75 + SGD10 (X-ray)
Online application for issuance of work permit - SGD20 (or maybe SGD30, can't remember exactly)
Miscellaneous (photos, photocopies of documents) - SGD20
Transport costs (ferrying the nannies to and from the entrance test/safety seminar site, clinic for the medical exam, work pass division for fingerprinting and subsequently pick up of permits) - SGD20

Total cost = SGD330

Meanwhile, the whole process takes roughly 3-4 weeks from start of application to actual pick-up of work permits with most of the steps done via online. One still needs to accompany or drop off and pick up the FDW for a couple of things though such as the entrance test/safety seminar, the medical exam, document verification/ fingerprinting/ photo taking for work permit issuance and actual pick-up of work permits but each of these steps only takes half a day.

You could probably save yourself the hassle and pay a maid agency to do this for you but when I asked a friend of mine how much this would cost, it amounted to about SGD700 which is about twice the cost of what you shell out if you did it on your own.

In any case, we're finally done with the process. Our FDWs have their work permits and now it's on to the next task on our to do list. Get long term visit passes for our kids (and yes, it's quite ironic that our nannies have work permits already but our kids are still on short-term visas).


  1. Hi there! Just want to ask if your FDW did any OEC in Manila? If yes, how did you do that process? I have finished everything required by MOM but my FDW is stuck there in Manila because of the OWWA and OEC membership. Thanks in advance!

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