At MSIG, we want to take a moment to acknowledge a group of hard workers in Singapore: our domestic helpers.
With many Singaporeans working hard themselves to balance their busy schedules, it's no surprise you may have considered hiring one to help you cope. In fact, in 2010 alone, one in five local households have a domestic helper.
Unfortunately, some hire one without considering the experience and welfare of both household and domestic helper. Here are five questions to ask yourself if you're looking for a helper:
1. What Do You Want?
Maybe you're picturing your helper assisting you in everything. But such broad thinking may result in an unfocused hiring process.
Before you begin interviewing, list out key priorities and tasks you want your maid to help with. For example, someone with experience in child or elderly care is a good fit for families with kids and senior citizens. If you are looking for a helper to assist your children with homework, you will need a helper who's willing and able to teach. Other factors include whether your family's diet accommodates your helper's religion, depending on the food she needs to handle.
These questions help create a profile of an ideal helper who can match your household and allow you to hire correctly.
2. Is Your Family On Board?
This is a very critical step. After all, having a stranger living at home is a big deal and takes some getting used to. That's why some may not handle it well, resulting in conflict.
Before you start hiring, explain how things will change at home to your family - be clear and specific. Take the time to answer all questions and ensure everyone is comfortable with the idea.
End it by setting ground rules to establish how everyone should respond in certain situations. One example is how they should communicate if they are unhappy with something the helper is doing.
3. How Will Life Be Like For Your Helper?
Ground rules aren't just for family, you need some for your helper too. It may sound counterintuitive to set rules for your helper's well-being, but clear expectations ultimately benefit everyone.
Some things to think about include:
Your Helper's Hours
What are her working hours and when is her day off? Do keep these reasonable to ensure your helper is not being overworked.
If your helper is facing a problem, you want her to feel comfortable being honest with you about struggles at work or in her personal life. How would you like her to communicate with you in these situations?
Your Helper's Place In The Family
This comes down to personal preference - some employers are happy treating their helper as one of their own, others prefer reasonable boundaries. There is no correct answer here but it is key that you make a decision, so that your helper doesn't get mixed signals in situations such as family gatherings.
Your Management Style
Not many thing about this but it goes a long way in improving your working relationship with your helper.
For example, some like the idea of not having to worry about anything and would prefer the helper to take initiative and get things done around the house. Others are more particular and may already have an exact way of doing certain things - in these cases, it may be better to ensure your helper adheres closely to a give to-do-list.
4. Can You Afford It?
Hiring a helper comes with expenses that go beyond her monthly salary. These include:
- Monthly Foreign Domestic Worker Levey - $265
- Domestic Helper Agency Fee
- Work Permit Application and Issurance Fees - $60
- Security Bond
- Settling In Programme (SIP) Fee - $75
- Travel Expenses
Budget wisely to see if you can afford these. You can also find out if you qualify for concessions. Example, if you have children below the age of 16, if anyone in your household is aged 65 and above or has a disability.
5. Are You Able To Take Care Of Your Helper?
Your helper is hired to take care of your household but it is your responsibility to take care of her too.
This includes annual health checkups, access to medical care and assistance in unexpected situations. That's where maid insurance comes in.
Look for a policy that suits her needs - ensure it comes with personal accident and hospital and surgical coverage. MaidPlus is a great option: it covers the loss of your helper's belongings in the event of a fire, burglary or water damage due to a burst pipe, as well as unforeseen medical costs such as dental treatment and dengue fever. Even if your helper tests negative, MaidPlus pays for the diagnostic tests.
The best part? It's 100% approved by the Ministry of Manpower. Find out more here.