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Cost of hiring a maid in Singapore: Maid salary, FDW levy and other fees

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Foreign domestic helpers are fast becoming a necessity for many households in Singapore. Well, don’t you wish you had an extra pair of hands to help around the house sometimes?

Someone who could take care of your aged parents or young child, keep your home spic and span, and prepare piping hot meals while you are busy at work?

In Singapore, one out of every five households hires a maid. The number of domestic helpers here have risen steadily over the years to 255,800 as of last year.

The trend is set to accelerate in the years to come due to the increasing prevalence of dual-income families and a rapidly ageing population needing caregiving.

Let’s break down how much it costs to hire a maid in Singapore, and the factors to consider when choosing one.

Foreign domestic helper levy in Singapore

When you hire a foreign domestic worker (FDW), you will have to pay a monthly FDW levy for her on top of her salary. The levy rate is as follows:

Type of levyMonthly rateDaily rate
Normal (1st FDW)$300$9.87
Normal (Subsequent FDWs)$450$14.80
You can get a concessionary rate of $60 per month if you live with any of the following eligible person(s) who is a Singapore citizen in the same household:
  1. Your child who is aged below 16 years;

  2. You or your spouse are aged 65 years or above;

  3. You have a parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandparent-in-law aged 65 years old or above;

  4. You, or your family members have disabilities, and require a full-time caregiver’s assistance in daily activities.

The levy concession for one foreign domestic worker is granted based on one eligible person in the household. It is capped at two foreign domestic workers per household.

You don’t need to apply for the levy concession as it will be automatically applied if you and/or your spouse is at least 67 years old; or your child is below 16 years old. For all others, head to MOM’s Apply For Levy Concession page to apply. Persons with disabilities need to apply through the Agency for Integrated Care.

If you hire a foreign domestic worker to take care of a family member who needs permanent assistance with three or more activities of daily living, you may also qualify for the monthly Home Caregiving Grant of $200.

Minimum salary for maids in Singapore

Salary will be the biggest recurring expense when you hire a maid. Generally, the amount is determined based on factors such as the maid’s nationality, language ability and years of experience.

Countries also set minimum wages for their foreign domestic workers, a sampling of which is shown in the table below:

CountryMinimum monthly salary for maid set by respective country’s embassy
Sri Lanka$497

In a 2019 survey conducted by market research firm YouGov, more than half of Singaporeans surveyed pay their maids more than the minimum wage with monthly salaries ranging from $600 to more than $800.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for. If you are after a more experienced maid who has worked in Singapore for a few years and speaks English well, she is likely to command a salary that is higher than the minimum. New, inexperienced maids from agencies may be more willing to accept the minimum wage but you could face more of a learning curve with them.

While interviewing potential domestic helpers, it is important to ask how many years of experience they have had, so that you can offer a salary that is fair.

Don’t forget to purchase maid insurance!

Before your maid starts work with you, you have to purchase medical insurance and personal accident insurance as part of your medical obligations to her as an employer. The cost of purchasing the insurance must be borne by you and not passed on to your maid.

The medical insurance you buy for your maid must have a coverage of at least $15,000 per year for inpatient care and day surgery during your helper’s stay in Singapore; while the personal accident insurance policy must have a sum assured of at least $60,000 per year, and must cover sudden, unforeseen and unexpected incidents resulting in permanent disability or death. It must not contain extra exclusion clauses that are not in the Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations.

Personal accident insurance protects your domestic helper and her family by providing a lump sum compensation if she suffers from permanent disability or passes away due to an accident while in your employment. The compensation must be made payable to your helper or her beneficiaries.

It is worth considering whether you should take up more comprehensive medical insurance coverage for your maid as emergency expenses such as hospitalisation fees can run into the thousands.

Total cost of hiring a maid in Singapore

There are two ways to hire a maid in Singapore. You can either directly hire or transfer a maid who is already working here, or you go through a maid agency. Most employers opt for the latter as good agencies can recommend the most suitable domestic helper based on your requirements and also handle all the paperwork involved.

Assuming you take the typical route through an agency, these are the estimated one-off expenses involved:

Maid agency fees$800 to $2,000
Air ticket$100 to $400
Settling-in Programme (for first time domestic helpers)$75
Foreign Domestic Worker Levy$60 (concessionary) or $300
Security deposit (employers can opt for a maid insurance policy that offers “waiver of counter indemnity” to save on the $5,000 upfront deposit)$5,000
Work permit application$35
Work permit issuance$35
Maid insurance (for approximately 26 months)$225 to $330
Total$1,430 to $3,175 (excluding security deposit)

As for the monthly recurring expenses, this is what you can expect to pay:

Monthly salary$600 (on average)
Monthly levy$60 or $300
Living expenses$200
Total$860 to $1,110


Ultimately, hiring a maid goes beyond just dollars and cents. Some people say finding the right domestic helper is more challenging than finding a life partner.

Experts recommend looking at the potential maid’s employment record. Ideally, you want to find someone who has completed a contract before and has a proven track record. A red flag is if the maid has a history of job hopping.

Ask the maid as many questions as you can during the interview to suss out her work attitude and personality. Try to get a sense of how well she will fit into the role as well as your family.

In addition to offering her a fair salary, it may also be worthwhile including performance incentives and job perks to motivate her to do her best for your family.

And most of all, remember that hiring a maid is a long term partnership. Just as you expect your maid to do her job right, you should also put yourself in her shoes. Consider how you would like your own employer to treat you on a daily basis and resolve any disputes that arise. Be kind, and yours could be a fulfilling relationship for years to come.

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