As the need for domestic workers is increasing in Singapore, some households have turned to hiring transfer domestic workers (aka: direct hires). These are foreign domestic workers (FDW) who are already living in Singapore and are looking for new employment. There are a few reasons why people are opting to hire transfer domestic helpers rather than new ones, including less training time, cheaper maid agency fees and the ability to hire from a trusted source. Below we discuss some of the top reasons why transfer domestic workers have been soaring in popularity.
Cheaper maid agency fees and costs
One of the main reasons why Singaporeans are interested in hiring transfer foreign domestic workers is that it's much cheaper. Hiring a brand new FDW can cost you S$2,000 in maid agency fees, whereas transfer domestic workers will only set you back around S$400. The cheaper cost comes from not having to transport the new worker overseas, not needing to pay for medical examinations and shorter training sessions. Additionally, you can spend less time away from work to train her—unless you want to train your FDW from scratch—since the worker already has working experience in Singapore households.
You can hire from a trusted source
Another advantage of hiring your next FDW directly is that you can utilize your network to your advantage and hire a worker from a trusted source, avoiding maid agencies completely. Because you are not going through an agency, you will be able to conduct more thorough vetting. For instance, you can ask to let her be interviewed in your home with other family members, see how she performs certain duties and receive genuine feedback on her strengths and weaknesses. Unlike maid agencies who care about generating profit, talking to someone you trust will give you a more honest review of the worker you are interested in hiring. Additionally, you have access to the Ministry of Manpower's website where you can see the domestic worker's prior employment record.
Better match potential between you and your new worker
If you are looking for someone who speaks your language and is acclimated to Singaporean standards, direct hires can make finding the right match easier. Since transfer FDW's have already been working in Singapore, they will most likely be over the culture shock, have a better understanding of Singapore's standards and culture and have a better grasp of the languages spoken. It helps to keep in mind that if a FDW wants to transfer or if her current employer is helping her find new employment, it doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong with the worker. Perhaps the employer no longer needs help, or the skills that the domestic helper has didn't fit with what her employer needed (while her skillset may be exactly what you're looking for instead).
Faster starting time
Those who need a domestic worker as soon as possible can benefit from hiring directly due to the almost immediate start times and short application process. While hiring a new worker can take up to 10 weeks, transfer workers can often start within a week due to much shorter paperwork processing times. Because she is already in Singapore, you won't have to wait for foreign paperwork to be approved nor do you have to wait for her to come to the country. You do, however, still need to purchase maid insurance and apply for a work permit on the MOM's website on behalf of your worker.
Things to look out for when hiring directly
You should be wary of hiring any domestic worker who has switched employers more than 3 times within a year. This can mean that the worker either frequently switches employers in hopes of getting better benefits or former employers are finding their work inadequate. You can check for domestic workers who are prone to this on the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) directory since it will have her employment history.
Additionally, you should be prepared to pay a higher salary and be mindful of legally entitled rights. Experienced domestic workers usually demand higher salaries and will also be well-educated about their rights. While higher salaries are a logical progression of employment experience, if you are adamant about keeping your domestic worker's salary as low as possible, hiring a transfer domestic helper may not be optimal.