Finding "Miss Right"

Friday, 05.05.2017

Cheatsheet for Finding “Miss Right”
Opening your home to a complete stranger may appear daunting in the first instance, especially if you’re a rookie employer. And now that you have taken that big step of sharing the privacy and living space for at least the next two years of the contract period with a helper, how do you ensure you find the right one suited for your family so that you get that peace of mind bringing the bread home?

As of Dec 2016, the Ministry of Manpower reported a total of 239,700 foreign domestic workers (FDWs) working in Singapore. While all these FDWs are of Asian background coming from Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India and Myanmar mostly, there are various factors that we need to bear in mind when your helper is hired. Very often, the employer-employee relationship is soured because reality brings disappointment to pre-employment perceptions. Here are 4 major considerations that come into play when you embark on this pursuit for “Miss Right.”

i) Cultural and socio-economic background

Most employers endeavour to land a maid who has some commonality – like religion, spoken language or ethnicity – with them, to break some initial barriers and increase her adaptability to their home environment. Overlooking this aspect may give rise to insensitivities from either party in volatile situations. For example, an Indonesian Muslim helper may prefer to work in an environment where she can practise her religion, observe fasting during the Ramadan month and not handle pork. On another instance, one of our colleagues had employed an FDW from Myanmar and struggled in the first three months meting out instructions because of the latter’s linguistic capabilities. Having said that, we do see some harmonious employer-employee relationships even when the socio-cultural backgrounds are vastly different.

Expert Tip: Assess your family needs to narrow down your search to one nationality that you deem suitable for your home environment.

ii) Work history outside home country or in Singapore

This is a critical aspect of the employment process. Having a complete picture of your prospective FDW’s employment history and the reason they left the past employer are important in determining whether the helper is suitable for your home. Maids who haven’t completed their contract term are often frowned upon but it is worth investigating the reason behind their contract cessation. This will also reveal if the maid is suitable for your home. If your key priority is caring for your children, an FDW who has no prior experience in this realm or does not display a keen interest in children may not make the cut. To families that have little time to train, an experienced maid may be a priority. Of course, with experience comes a heftier price tag but if the trade-off is a more peaceful you, then why not?

Expert Tip: If you are on a budget that cannot afford an ex-Singapore helper, then expand the search to include helpers who have worked overseas (ie: in the Middle Eastern countries or Malaysia) in environments that are similar to ours.

iii) Age and personality traits

Ask any HR professional and they will tell you that dealing with humans is a tough job. They cannot be programmed in a specific way because just like you and me, the FDW is a person with feelings. When selecting a helper, do take time to think through the key tasks the person is going to be responsible for and what qualities they require to fulfill their duties smoothly. Run a self-reflection to ask yourself whether you prefer someone with a mild disposition or one who is more outgoing; one whom your child will regard as a playmate or a disciplinarian; one who is a Masterchef-in-the-making or one who is fussed over cleaning. Remember to be realistic when drawing up the wish list for your helper.

Expert Tip: Assign values to the list of personality traits you expect in your helper so that you remind yourself of what you are looking for when hiring domestic help.

iv) Reliable employment agency to elicit recommendations
The thought of hiring an FDW immediately conjures up images of endless paperwork, coordination of services and interviews which may not give you complete certainty. It is therefore imperative that you work with an employment agency (EA) that has a proven track record, vast database of FDWs and a stringent pre-qualification process for the candidates they are fielding.

With a motto “Treasure Quality Time with your Loved Ones,” Imtidad Employment Solutions (13C6386) has emerged with customer-endorsed rating of 4/5 stars because of their willingness to go the extra mile for their client’s pursuit of a good FDW. Their broad database of FDWs also reassures prospective employers of efficient replacements should an unforeseen circumstance occur. As veteran LionsXII footballer Baihakki Khaizan says, “Imtidad is sincere in delivering quality service to their clients, and it is this service that differentiates them from the rest.”

Once you have profiled your home and needs, share them with a trusted EA like Imtidad who can undertake the responsibility of combing the universe to spot select a few candidates for your consideration.

Expert Tip: Always ask the EA for their opinion on how suited the helper is to your needs, even after you have interviewed the FDW.

Dollars and sense.
Costs play a huge part in deciding whether the FDW is worth it. Here are 8 costs you incur with an FDW.

1. Employment agency (EA) fees
Have the EA break down their fee structure to analyse what you’re paying for. No two agencies will have the same contract terms so do not gloss over the details.

2. Health check
A 6-monthly medical check-up from the start of her employment with you is mandatory for the FDW to continue working in Singapore. Should your FDW require medical attention otherwise, employers are required to foot the medical bill.

​3. Work permit issuance
$60 is payable to the MOM in total for the submission of the work permit application and the successful issuance of the work permit card. Work permit card should be held by the FDW. Employers can choose to keep her passport if mutually agreed.

4. Insurance and FDW security bond
The law requires your FDW to be covered for up to $15,000 per year on inpatient and day surgery charges. Let the EA recommend the most apt policy because the cheapest one may not extend a comprehensive coverage that you require. 

5. FDW monthly salary
Get an FDW whose remuneration you can upkeep through the two year contract period.

6. FDW monthly levy
The standard levy amount is $265 however employers who are qualify under the Young Child / Grandchild Scheme will be eligible for the concessionary levy rate of $60 subject to the conditions set out by the MOM.

7. Flight tickets
Employers are liable to pay for their FDW’s flight tickets to and fro Singapore regardless of the fulfillment of the employment contract.

8. Comfortable provisions
Your FDW requires timely meals, private sleeping area and adequate rest time or day(s) off. Whilst these come as added costs to you, ensuring her comfort will augur well for a productive FDW.

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