Maid Insurance

What Happens If You Switch Domestic Workers Too Frequently?

Find out what happens if you switch your domestic worker too frequently.

When it comes to hiring foreign domestic workers (FDWs), finding the right match for your family can be tough and it may be tempting to try out different domestic workers in hopes of finding the perfect fit. However, frequently changing your foreign domestic worker can lead to negative consequences. Below, we examine what can happen if you frequently change your domestic worker, why it happens and what can be done to improve your FDW retention rates.

Trouble with the Ministry of Manpower

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) considers switching domestic workers more than three times in a year as grounds for concern. If you want to hire a 4th domestic worker within a one-year period, you will be considered a "Frequent Change Employer" and will have to either meet with the Ministry of Manpower or attend the Employers' Orientation Programme before you can hire another worker, which costs an average of S$32.25.

Potential Monetary Loss

Hiring one domestic worker is already expensive, so not surprisingly, hiring multiple ones will be more so. Not only will you be paying termination fees but you will also have to pay for repatriation (if you are sending her home), replacement or re-hiring fees, maid agency fees and a new insurance policy. If your domestic worker is wreaking havoc on your home, then termination definitely outweighs the costs; however if you are firing your worker due to overly high expectations or a small idiosyncrasies, the costs may not be worth it. The table below shows the fees associated with hiring and onboarding one FDW. Based on these cost estimates, you can expect to pay up to S$4,200 just in fees if you go through 3 domestic workers in a year.

One-Time Fees of Hiring a FDWAverage Cost (S$)
Maid Agency Fee1,100
Work Permit Application30
Work Permit30
Settling-in Programme75
Employer's Orientation32.25
Initial Medical Examination80
Inoculation (optional)73.87

Loss of Quality of Life

In addition to legal and monetary ramifications, constantly changing workers could result in a loss of quality of life. In some cases, training your new FDW can take up to a few months, which involves taking time away from work, pitching in to help with her duties and helping her acclimate to your home and to Singapore. This means that if you go through three workers in a year, you may end up spending almost a year training your new employees, taking time away from doing things you actually want to be doing.

What if Your Domestic workers want to Quit Early?

If you find yourself losing multiple domestic workers a year, either you have incredibly bad luck or some of your actions may be off-putting to your employees. If all your workers have cited the same reason for wanting to leave, then it could be helpful to reevaluate your policies as an employer. This is especially important when you are confronted for things such as rest days, adequate accommodation, salary and safety precautions, since the MOM has specific guidelines for these categories. If you like a worker and she wants to leave for any of these reasons, you should attempt to renegotiate your original contract and find a compromise that will get her to stay.

Additionally, if you want to reduce the chances of your worker wanting to quit before her contract is over, you can do some research on what the current employment trends are (salary, perks, rest days etc.). If you can afford to do so, you can give her a competitive salary or multiple rest-days. Since domestic workers may discuss their living and working environments with each other, you can prevent jealous or resentful behavior by maintaining a line of communication to make sure you are fulfilling your end of the employment bargain. One thing you should keep in mind, however, is that it may help to look at her employment record to see if she has a pattern of frequently changing her employers — in this case, you should avoid hiring her.

Ways to Avoid Switching Domestic Workers Frequently

If you are going through an employment agency, only use one with a high retention rate, as this means there is a good track record of domestic workers staying with their employers. You should also talk to the agency to see how much information you can get on a potential worker and whether or not you can interview her. On the other hand, hiring a domestic worker directly can also increase your chances of getting along with your worker — especially if you are hiring her through someone you already know and trust. Direct hires also allow for in-person interviewing, which can help give you a better picture of the candidate.

Additionally, when you write up your employment worker contract, you should make sure your worker agrees and understands what is in the contract. If she doesn't actually understand some of the terms in the contract, it may lead to miscommunication and disputes down the line. Also, you should make sure your contract is fair — both to her and to your expectations. If you expect too much from her, then it will be easier for you to get discouraged and end up wanting to find someone better.

Final thoughts

Though you may be adamant about finding the perfect helper, switching your domestic workers frequently sends a red flag to the MOM, making your future hiring decisions much more difficult. It is also financially costly and the constant training takes time away from other activities that take should priority. However, it is understandable that, in some cases, you may have a streak of bad luck with your workers, making rehiring workers unavoidable. In this case, since you have to purchase a maid insurance policy anyway, you can buy one that covers termination and re-hiring expenses, which can help reduce some of the costs associated with untimely departures.

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Anastassia Evlanova

Anastassia is a Senior Research Analyst at ValueChampion Singapore, evaluating insurance products for consumers based on quantitative and qualitative financial analysis. She holds degrees in Economics and International Business Management and her prior working experience includes work in the capital markets sector. Her analyses surrounding insurance, healthcare, international affairs and personal finance has been featured on AsiaOne, Business Insider, DW, Vice, Her World, Asia Insurance Review, the Australian Institute of International Affairs and more.