- The SingPass
- Orientation program for employer
- Steps to transfer a FDW
- Compulsory Insurances
- The « security bond »
- The levy
- Medical examination
- Renewal of Work Permit
- 5 steps to Renew a WP
- Conditions to transfer a FDW
- Cancellation of Work Permit
- Employment contract
- Philippines extra requirements
- Pdf Documentation
Official documentation regarding labor laws and regulations for domestic helpers can be found at the end of this chapter, under the section “Pdf Documentation”.
FDW means “Foreign Domestic Worker” and DH means “domestic helper”
WP means “Work Permit”
The SingPass is a password used to communicate with various online Singapore government services. The SingPass is personal and cannot be transmitted to another person.
Singapore residents eligible for SingPass are : Employment passes (EP, PEP and EntrePass) and their dependants, Permanent Residents and Singapore citizens.
The SingPass gives access to the Orientation Program for Employer and to the Work Permit online website of the Ministry of Manpower for application, renewal, transfer and cancelation of work permit of a Foreign Domestic Worker.
To apply for a SingPass, log on to : http://www.singpass.gov.sg/. If you hold a DP, the SingPass will be sent to the Employment Pass holder’s office address. Don’t forget to inform your spouse!
The compulsory orientation program for employer
Any person who has never been registered as an employer of a Foreign Domestic Worker in Singapore has to go through an Orientation course called “Orientation Programme for Employers” or “EOP”. It provides information on the role and responsibilities as an employer. The course can be taken online.
No preparation or particular knowledge is required to take the course. It’s neither an examination nor a test. Just clear information.
A Certificate of Attendance will be issued to every participant who attends the full duration of the course. This certificate is automatically transmitted to Ministry of Manpower within 1 to 2 working days. Any person who intends to employ a Foreign Domestic Worker for the first time must attend the EOP before submitting the Work Permit (WP) application. Failure to comply with this requirement will render the WP application unsuccessful.
Do note that you need to attend this EOP at least 3 working days before you apply for a WP for your first helper!
The 7 steps to hire a Foreign Domestic Worker (for a transfer helper)
(For a helper who isn’t present in Singapore, the process differs. Also do note that if the helper is in Singapore with a tourist visa, the application for WP will be denied. Helper MUST be either employed as a DH or be physically outside Singapore).
|ATTENTION! Never wait for expiry of a work permit to decide on a transfer! Any application for transfer has to be submitted to MOM more than 1 month before expiry of work permit.|
(Below are the steps: whenever “Day” is mentioned, it’s a working day, Monday through Saturday morning and it excludes all Public Holidays)
Step 1 (for a transfer maid): get a « Consent for Release letter » from the present employer; the letter should state the name and address of present employer and the particulars Foreign Domestic Worker (including her WP and passport number). The date of transfer shouldn’t be written as it is decided by MOM.
Step 2: (Day 1) Application for Work Permit with MOM (Ministry of Manpower). Go online to WPOL with the following information ready:
- Helper’s complete name, date of birth, WP number, address in her home country, marital status, spouse’s name if she is married;
- Copy of helper’s WP
- Copy of helper’s passport
- Consent for release letter of present employer
- Your (or your spouse) monthly income in SGD (you’ll be required to provide either an IRAS reference number or a letter of your employer (or your spouse’s employer) with a company stamp stating: your complete name, position, date of commencement with the company and monthly salary in SGD.
- A valid credit card (no debit card is accepted)
|Good to know! Keep this date in your records forever! (date of application ). MOM asks for this DOA for any future inquiry you may have on their website WPOL.|
Step 3: (Day 2) Reception of an « In-Principle Approval Letter » or “IPA” from MOM (if no IPA comes in, check for an online message from MOM either denying IPA or, more often, requiring more documents to be emailed)
Step 4: (Day 2) Purchase compulsory Insurances and Security Bond (Insurance company will inform MOM directly on Day 3 without sending you any notice. You can check on your session of WPOL that MOM has been notified by the insurance company as early as Day 3.
Step 5: (Day 4) Approval of Work Permit by MOM (with Letter of Notification for Issuing of Work Permit);
Step 6: (Day 4) Issuing of Work Permit: it is THE day when employee is authorized to transfer to her new employer or to enter Singapore, whichever is applicable. Issuing can be done the same day when MOM has approved the WP. But do note that the issuing must be done within 7 days of MOM’s approval. Any issuing request after a delay of 7 days will be denied and the whole application process will be canceled. You must then start a new application. However, insurance isn’t lost, only postponed without penalties.
Step 7: (After Day 8) Collection of Work Permit Card at MOM counter OR WP card delivered to your place (this later case is only for helpers who are transferred and have been to MOM for fingerprinting within the 5 last years).
Steps 3 to 6 can be completed within 4 working days (including Saturday morning) ; but delays may vary.
|Good to know : The whole process can be done directly without going through the services of an employment agency or maid agency. The Online process requires employer to have a SingPass and a Credit card.|
After you get the IPA, MOM requires the employer to purchase 2 insurances for the domestic helper:
- Medical insurance with a coverage of at least 15 000 SGD per year since January 1st, 2010 for day surgery and inpatient care during the stay in Singapore of the Foreign Domestic Worker.
- Personal Accident Insurance with a minimum sum assured of 40 000 SGD for compensation paid to the FDW or her beneficiaries.
Several insurances companies offer « maid packages ». The level of coverage may differ from one package to another and may include additional benefits such as comprehensive medical coverage, wage compensation or personal liability insurance. Before you make your choice, always ask to see the different insurance options and keep in mind that the cheapest may not be the best. Some extra cost may give better protection to your helper.
|Good to know: most of “Maid packages” include the security bond on top of the medical and personal accident insurances.|
The « security bond »
The security bond binds the employer to the Singapore government. This bond comes in the form of a 5000 SGD deposit per foreign domestic worker that the employer must execute with the MOM. Under the bond, the employer is required to look after the well-being of the domestic helper and to ensure her repatriation whatever the reason is.
In lieu of a money deposit, the Security Bond can be posted in the form of an insurance / banker’s guaranty which can be purchased from all insurance companies that offer “Maid Packages”.
The deposit of 5000 SGD can be forfeited if any of the Security Bond conditions is breached. The conditions of Security Bond are:
- Prompt payment of salary,
- Provision of adequate food and medical treatment
- Provision of acceptable housing
- Full payment of repatriation expenses
- Repatriation upon cancellation of work permit (half the bond only may be forfeited is the employer demonstrate his goodwill to find Domestic Helper within 3 months of her disappearance)
- Reporting to MOM any breach of Work Permit conditions by FDW such as doing part-time.
|Good to know: purchasing a Letter of Guaranty for the security bond doesn’t exempt the employer from paying the 5000 SGD if the MOM was to claim it for breach of conditions of work permit.|
Once a Work Permit has been approved, a levy is payable every month to the Ministry of Manpower. The amount is 265 SGD per worker and per month, deducted from the employer’s banking account through giro on the 17th of each month.
For uncompleted month, the amount is 8.72 SGD per day.
There is a discounted rate for a disabled person employing a domestic helper.
|Good to know: It is strictly forbidden to deduct any part of the amount of the levy from the domestic helper’s salary.|
The 6-monthly medical examination
Under the work permit conditions, any Foreign Domestic Worker is required to go for a 6-monthly medical examination to screen for pregnancy, tuberculosis, AIDS and syphilis only until she turns 50.
! This screening is not meant to replace regular health check-ups !
About 2 to 4 weeks prior to the date of completion of the 6-monthly medical examination, MOM sends a form together with a notification letter to the employer to inform about the forthcoming screening. The form has to be completed by the doctor who will complete the examination and the tests. The 6–monthly medical examination should be performed by a registered Singapore doctor. The clinic will directly transmit the results of the screening to the MOM; no report is sent to the employer.
The cost of the 6-monthly medical examination is approximately 40 SGD (as at mid-2014) and should be fully borne by the employer. It is strictly forbidden to deduct it from the helper’s salary.
|Good to know: it is strictly forbidden to deduct the cost of the 6-monthly medical exam from the Helper’s salary.|
Renewal of Work Permit
Upon expiry of work permit, the employer has only 2 choices:
- renewal of work permit
- Cancelation with repatriation of domestic helper to her country of origin.
Note that any transfer to a new employer has to be done more than 1 month before expiry of work permit, in other words, after 23 months of contract.
Two months before expiry date of Work Permit, the Ministry of Manpower sends a renewal notice to the employer. The application for renewal should be submitted only within 30 days before the work permit expires.
|Attention! Any application for renewal of work permit shall be submitted in the last 30 days of validity of current work permit. Any application for renewal submitted more than 30 days before expiry shall be rejected by MOM.|
The 5 steps to renew a work permit
You can process the renewal of a WP up to 30 days before its expiry date. Most of the time, MOM sends you a “notice of renewal” about 6 weeks prior to the expiry of the WP. However, some employers have reported to have not received this notice. In this case, it’s their responsibility to log into their WPOL session and print the renewal notice.
Step 1: ensure that the FDW’s passport has at least 7 months validity* on the day of application for renewal.
Step 2: purchase compulsory insurances (medical + Personal Accident + Letter of Guaranty for Security Bond, valid for 26 months and starting the day after expiry date of existing WP; note that the Insurance company will ask the employer to provide the Renewal Notice / Form sent by MOM;
Step 3: no more than 30 days before expiry of WP and before it has expired, log to “Work Permit online for Employers of Foreign Domestic Workers” using your Singpass; click on “Renew Work Permit” under “Renew” and submit online to Work Pass Division (WPD) your request for renewal;
Step 4: MOM sends an online notice of approval; print documents attached to approval (Letter of Notification, Security Bond form) and follow instruction stated on Letter of Notification;
Step 5: the new Work Permit card will be delivered to your place approximately 4 days after approval of the renewal of work permit. Every 5 years, the helper must go to MOM for finger printing: in this case, the WP isn’t delivered but is retrieved on day of fingerprinting.
|Good to know: The whole process can be done directly without going through the services of an employment agency or maid agency. The Online process requires employer to have a SingPass and a Credit card.|
*With some embassies, the renewal of passport can take up to 8 weeks which sometimes goes beyond the expiry of the WP. In this case MOM may extend the WP if a proof that the passport renewal has already been processed can be given in the form of a receipt from the Embassy.
Transfering your domestic helper to a new employer
When you need to transfer your domestic helper, it is the responsibility of the new employer to apply for a new Work Permit. But note that this application should be submitted at least 30 days before expiry of existing work permit or 30 days before the day the current employer leaves Singapore if applicable (situation when an expatriate family is relocated outside Singapore).
Good to know! the current employer of a domestic helper who transfers has nothing to do. All steps have to be taken by the future employer.
The employee can transfer only when the new work permit under the new employer’s name has been issued which is approximately 7 days after reception by both current employer and new employer of the “In-Principle approval letter”.
Good to know: the exact date when the domestic helper is allowed to transfer is always decided by MOM based on the date when the application is submitted by the new employer. Therefore, the current employer whose helper is transferring cannot expect her to work until the day he/she (the employer) leaves Singapore or until the day he/ she gets a new helper.
Also, between two subsequent employers, the work permit cannot be transferred to any third party.
Attention! the domestic helper remains under the full responsibility of the current employer, until the issuing of her new WP with the new employer, even if she was to be “handed over” to an agency.
Piece of advice: upon termination of a 2 year contract, it is common practice to offer to your domestic helper a lump sum equivalent to the cost of a return ticket to her place (village, city) of origin even in the case she refuses to go back.
Cancellation of Work Permit
You must cancel your helper’s WP in these only 2 situations:
- when she is repatriated to her country of origin, whatever the reason (end of contract, early termination for dispute, helper’s offense committed in Singapore, etc),
- or when she has disappeared, then the employer shall cancel her work permit.
A work permit can be cancelled anytime during its validity.
To process the cancellation, the employer has to submit online to Ministry of Manpower a cancellation request provided.
The employer is informed of the outcome of the request with a “cancellation acknowledgement letter” (if applicable); attached to this letter is a Special Pass for the helper to allow her to stay in Singapore until she leaves. The cancellation is processed by MOM:
- on the same day the request is submitted, if it’s a working day and it’s before 8pm
- on the next working day when submitted after 8 PM or after 2pm on Saturdays.
After cancellation of Work Permit, the domestic helper has to leave Singapore within 7 days. Upon cancellation request, the employer is requested to mention the exact day and point of departure of the domestic helper (Changi Airport, Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, etc).
Advice : it is recommended that you personally accompany your domestic helper to her point of departure (control of passports) even if you have very good relationships. Remember that you are fully responsible of her repatriation until she clears immigration checkpoint even after cancellation of her work permit.
|Good to know: the cost of the return ticket to the country of origin shall be fully borne by the employer whatever the circumstances of repatriation are (misconduct at work, disagreement, etc)|
Cancellation of work permit voids automatically any existing employment contract.
Signing an employment contract between employer and domestic helper isn’t compulsory in Singapore.
However, the Ministry of Manpower strongly encourages employers and their Foreign Domestic Worker to draft a written employment contract. The Association of Employment Agencies of Singapore (AEAS) and CaseTrust have drafted a common “Standard Employment Contract between Foreign Domestic Worker and Employer” which all accredited “Maid agencies” in Singapore should advise their clients to use.
Any written agreement should precise:
- the salary,
- the housing conditions,
- the number of days off (All domestic helpers are entitled to 1 weekly day-off. It is allowed to ask the helper to work on an off-day but she has to get compensation);
- the amount of rest,
- the conditions for renewal and termination of contract,
- the benefits in cash or in kind if any.
The validity of the written contract is linked to the validity of work permit. The contract is void upon cancellation of work permit.
Termination of Employment Contract
1. Advance Notice
There is no compulsory advance notice to terminate a helper’s contract.
However, the AEAS recommends that termination of contract should be notified at least one week in advance by any party to the other.
2. Conditions for termination of a contract
Since no law or regulation rules the employment contract of a domestic helper in Singapore, none of the parties have to give grounds for the termination of a contract ; whatever the circumstances are, relocation of employer, breach of contract by any party, the contract may be terminated at any time and the work permit cancelled.
|Attention! if you decide to terminate the employment contract of a domestic helper, then you are required by law to either cancel her work permit or transfer her to another employer. In no case is she allowed to remain in Singapore with a work permit under your name without residing in your house and working for you.|
3. Obligations of the domestic helper after termination
A domestic helper who terminates a contract has only 2 options :
- transferring to a new employer (but the application for the new work permit has to be made at least 30 days before expiry of existing WP or 30 days before departure of employer, when employer leaves Singapore);
- being repatriated to her country (the cost of the transportation has to be fully borne by the present employer, whatever the circumstances to terminate the contract are, including offence or infraction committed by the helper) ; it means cancelling existing work permit.
In no case can the employee remain in Singapore after her Work Permit is canceled.
|Good to know: when a Foreign Domestic Worker speaks about “finishing my contract” or “termination of my contract”, most of the time she means “expiration of existing work permit”.|
In other words, it means that you can’t lay off your domestic helper and let her leave your place while her work permit carries your name. If you want to stop her contract, you have either to repatriate her (this can be done within a day) or transfer her to a new employer (it will take at least 4 working days).
4. Settlement of wages
No legal compensation is due to the domestic helper in case of termination of contract (early termination or not). Neither is the helper expecting any kind of compensation. If you intend to give her a bonus or a termination allowance, it is recommended to mention it in her last salary slip.
Upon expiry of a 2 year work permit, whether your domestic helper renews her contract or transfers to a new employer, it is common practice that you give her a lump sum equivalent to the cost of the return ticket to her village of origin whether or not she decides to go back.
Additional requirements of the Embassy of the Philippines
The Embassy of the Philippines imposes further requirements on the employment of its nationals as Foreign Domestic Workers.
1. The Philipino Employment Contract for Foreign Domestic Workers
The FDW and her employer are required to sign a different standard employment contract drafted by the Embassy of the Philippines. The steps to get a duly valid Philipino contract are:
Step 1: both employer and employee sign all pages of Standard employment contract drafted by the embassy of the Philippines;
Step 2: purchase Philippino security bond in the form of a letter of guarantee :
- 7000 SGD bond if direct processing of documents by employer – cost about 70 SGD; (available ONLY for FDWs who have been for more than 2 years with their employer)
- 2000 SGD bond when processed by a Philippino embassy accredited agency – cost about 40 SGD);
Step 3: be a member of the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA – Cost = 42 SGD for 2 year membership – Must be paid by helper);
Step 4: have paid their compulsory Pag Ibig membership (5,50 GD per month – Must be paid by helper)
Step 5: authentication of the signed contract by the Philippino embassy (cost = 42.50 SGD);
Step 6: verification of the signed and authenticated contract by the Philippino Embassy (cost = 17 SGD);
The verification and authentication of the Philippino contract can be processed directly by the employer only when the FDW has been for more than 2 years with the same employer. If she has served for less than 2 years, then only accredited agencies with the embassy of the Philippines can process the documents.
The list of agencies accredited by the Embassy of the Philippines can be found here .
This contract is outside the Ministry of Manpower’s purview. It means that any dispute between employer and helper won’t be settled by MOM.
This authenticated and verified employment contract of the embassy of the Philippines allows the domestic helper to apply for home leave (purchase of an OEC – see below) and for renewal of her passport (see next paragraph).
Good to know: to go for home leave, a Philippino domestic helper is required by Philippino authorities to purchase an Overseas Employment Certificate (cost 3 SGD for one entry; multiple entry OEC also exists). A Philipino domestic helper who has no OEC will be denied exiting the Philippines when she returns to Singapore. The whole procedure for home leave costs 104.50 SGD (excluding the security bond and the Pag Ibig fund membership).
2. Special requirements for Renewal of Philipino Passport
|Good to know: it takes approximately 8 weeks to process a renewal of a Philippino passport. To travel outside the Philippines, the Philippino passport must have at least 6-month validity. Filipinos are advised by their embassy to renew their passport at least 6 to 8 months prior to its expiry to avoid unnecessary inconvenience.|
To renew her Philipino passport, the domestic helper is required to provide:
- an authenticated and verified standard Philipino employment contract signed by the current employer, and the employee (see previous paragraph);
- the proof of present employment in Singapore (valid WP)
The cost of the Philipino passport is 102 SGD, which brings the total cost of renewing a passport AND get the authenticated contract to 203.50 SGD (excluding the security bond and the Pag Ibig fund membership).
3. Special requirement to travel to the Philippines
When a Philipino domestic helper returns to Singapore after she has spent some times in the Philippines (holidays, family reason, etc), she must clear immigration in the Philippines with an “Overseas Exit Certificate” also called “exit pass”.
This exit pass can be purchased:
- Before leaving Singapore, at the Embassy of the Philippines;
- In the Philippines in any OWWA office;
In both cases, the domestic helper must present an authenticated contract (see above) and a valid WP.
Good to know: The embassy of the Philippines is open Monday through Friday 9am until 5 pm. But do note that any visit to the embassy must be done with an appointment which can be set online. Link here.
Under this section, you will find many pdf official documents: laws, regulations and forms.
Employment contract drafted by the association of employment agencies in Singapour (AEAS). The same contract has been drafted by the other accreditation boy which is CaseTrust.
2. AEA-Standard Service Agreementbetween EA and Employer
Contract agreement between Employer and maid agency, drafted by the par association of employment agencies in Singapour (AEAS).
4. Philipino Standard Employment Contract
Employment contract for a Philipino Domestic Helper drafted by the Embassy of the Philippines in Singapore. This contract is required by the Embassy to process some official documents for the Dopestic Helper such as passport or permit of entry.
7. ILO – Labor Standards
Guide drafted by the Internatinal Labor Organisation and summarizing ILO conventions protecting the rights of workers. Easy to read document.
8. List of employment agencies accredited with the Embassy of the Philipines
This list is published by the Embassy of the Philipines. Only those agencies are allowed to process authentification of Philipino Domestic Workers’contract.
9. MOM_Change_of_Residential_Address_for_Foreign Domestic Worker’s employer
Form to notify MOM of the change of address of the employer. Ministry of Manpower should be informed within 14 days of change of address.