In JUN-2011, I direct-hired a Filipino FDW (Foreign Domestic Worker) in Singapore. Before hiring, I trawled the web for information on how to direct-hire a Filipino maid in Singapore but could not find anything useful and recent. Had a tough time gathering information on this topic for which I decided to write this blog. Hope this blog will make it easier for future employers. I also found it useful to contact Philippines embassy over phone to get my queries answered. One can contact them at +65.6737.3977 and just ask for labor office (http://www.philippine-embassy.org.sg/about-us/).

Background of my case: I found a Filipino maid who was working in my condo with some other employer. Her contract was expiring with that employer and she was looking for a new job. She agreed to work for me.  But, before she could join me, she had to go back to Philippines to sort out some family matters. I thought, since I know her, I could hire her directly without involving an agency. I was wrong. Read on to know more…

Here is some information that should help you if you are looking to direct-hire a Filipino maid in Singapore. Just to be clear, ‘direct-hire’ means you have already identified the maid that you want to hire (not through the agency) and the maid is in Philippines. If the maid you know is in Singapore, employed with some other employer, the hiring will be considered as transfer-maid as you are simply transferring the employer of the maid. Process of transfer-maid is pretty straight-forward and is not covered in this blog.

You cannot avoid the agency even if it is ‘direct-hire': If the maid you want to direct-hire is in Philippines, the word ‘direct-hire’ is a little mis-leading. As per the regulations implemented in JUN / JUL-2010 by Philippines Embassy, Singapore, all maids who wish to work in Singapore from Philippines MUST do proper paperwork through POEA (Philippines Oversees Employment Administration). POEA formalities and paperwork are quite intense for which employers will need an agency in Philippines who can get this paperwork done for their maid. Since, the employers in Singapore would not know the agencies in Philippines, they need to engage some agency in Singapore who will have their contacts with agencies in Philippines. The agency is required primarily to do the paperwork in Philippines. Approved maid-agencies in Singapore are listed on the Philippines Embassy website. Most maid agencies in Singapore who deal with Filipino maids (like the ones in Lucky Plaza) are approved by Philippines Embassy, Singapore.

How long does it take to get the FDW in Singapore: Most agencies I spoke with (about 50 of them) said that it takes about 4-6 weeks to get the FDW in Singapore. My maid arrived in 4 weeks (27 days to be precise) from the day I paid the agent in Singapore and gave him all the required papers.

How much does it cost to direct-hire Filipino FDW: Most agencies I spoke with (about 50 of them) quoted the fees in the range of S$2300 to 2500 to process direct-hire maid. This includes ALL paperwork required in Philippines & Singapore.  But, I was looking for an agent who can just do the paperwork in Philippines as I did the paperwork in Singapore myself. I finally chose Hart Consultancy as my agent to do the job. They were also the cheapest. Hart Consultancy in Lucky Plaza (Contact Person – Raul, Tel: 62357537) quoted S$1500 for all paperwork in Philippines + air ticket from Manila to Singapore + work-pass issuance formality in Singapore.

My experience in working with Hart Consultancy has been great. There were no surprises, they guided me well and most importantly, they stuck to every date that they committed to. I would highly recommend them.

This price (S$ 1,500) INCLUDES the following:

- Medical test in Philippines – To verify that girl is medically fit to be a FDW. Takes 1-2 days.

- TESDA Training – This is a 3-day training where they teach household work and safety measures. This training can be provided by the government authorized agents in Philippines.

- OWWA Seminar – This is a 5-day seminar conducted by the government.

- Procure OEC (Oversees Employment Certificate) from POEA

- One-way air ticket (Manila to Singapore)

- Thumb-printing, medical test and work-pass issuance in Singapore after FDW arrives here.

This price EXCLUDES the following:

- Issuance of in-principle approval (IPA) letter from MoM,  Singapore: I did it myself using MoM website (http://www.mom.gov.sg/services-forms/Pages/wp-online-fdw.aspx). It costed me S$10.

- Medical insurance & run-away bond in Singapore: I bought it directly from NTUC over phone. It costed me S$256 (plan – MI3E). See this link – http://www.income.com.sg/insurance/foreignmaid/premium.asp

- Philippines Embassy bond in Singapore for S$2,000: I bought it directly from NTUC over phone and it costed me S$35.

Summary of my cost:

1. Things that I did myself (IPA issuance + medical insurance + run-away bond + Philippines embassy bond): S$301.

2. Hart Consultancy Fees: S$1500

Total Cost: S$1801 (301 + 1500).

‘Shortcut’ to avoid: Some agencies I contacted suggested a ‘workaround’ to save money. They suggested to bring the maid from Philippines to Singapore as a ‘tourist’ on visit pass. This way they can avoid all the POEA paperwork in Philippines as maids would leave their country as tourist (not FDW). Once they enter Singapore as visitor, agency will take over and do the necessary paperwork to legalize her as FDW in Singapore. Apparently, she will need to leave Singapore once (typically to Johor) and then re-enter as a FDW. I found this option risky as maid has to lie (that she is a tourist) at 2 places – first to Philippines immigration officer when leaves Philippines and then to immigration officer at Singapore. If she gets caught, she can even lose her passport. I just thought that this option was just not worth the risk.

Financial benefit of direct-hire: If you find the maid through agency (regular-hire, NOT direct-hire), agency charges you (as employer) about S$3000 and as per the new regulations maids don’t pay anything. So, by direct-hiring a maid (where cost is SGD 1,801), it is an easy saving if SGD 1,200.

Hope this blog has helped you save some time in looking for information. Information in this blog will get outdated with time as processes keep changing. If you have more recent experience of direct-hiring a Filipino maid and discover something that I did not capture in this blog, please leave a comment so that future visitors can benefit from it.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert in legal or immigration matters. I just wanted to share my experience and information through this blog. Please do not treat this post as a replacement to advice from an expert in these matters.

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