"Local Employers - Do You Make These Mistakes
in Employing a Maid?"
Dear Fellow Singaporeans and PRs,
was pleasantly surprised at
the significant number of enquiries from fellow Singaporeans and
121 Personnel Services specializes in helping the expatriate community
in Singapore with domestic help (or maid) matters, we've been asked
many times whether we service the local community as well.
answer is "yes" if you feel that we are able to fulfill your needs.
Before I explain further, I'm glad to share that many local families
who have employed our domestic helpers have been happy with them.
Your Needs May Be Different
many Singaporean families prefer to employ a new maid. There are pros
and cons to this. However, one of the greatest challenges in employing
new helpers from overseas is their work performance and their
ability to communicate in English. And, this is one of the main
reasons many employers come to us for help. (No disrespect is meant
here. Just an observation.)
you were like me, you would be wondering where have all the good maids
gone to? I've a few answers to that, and they're "not pretty".
"Ugly" Answers to an Important
you are probably aware, the monthly salaries of domestic helpers are
much higher in countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Norway, Spain and
Saudi Arabia. It is no wonder that the more capable helpers tend to
gravitate towards these countries.
the many suppliers of helpers from overseas do not view Singapore as
their main market. The fact is that our market is small, and
our government have implemented much stricter criteria like 8 years
formal education, passing of entry test, must be 23 years old and
above, and so on before the helpers can work in Singapore.
to the other countries, Singapore really isn't a very attractive
market for them. In fact, the maid's loan has increased
significantly compared to the past, as a reflection of the bad market
A Shocking Revelation
question you may have in mind is why do you always have maids that
don't work out and why do you always have to get a replacement maid?
(Replacement maid here means a helper or maid employed to take over the
position of the previous helper or maid.)
of the reasons, I believe, has to do with quality control of the
recruitment and training process in Indonesia or the Philippines or
Myanmar. Since many agencies share the same suppliers and bio-data, the
quality of the helper you get will be about the same.
key point here is that the local agencies here simply do not have
control over the screening process of the helpers overseas. After
all, the helpers are overseas, and it is the suppliers who find the
girls. So, the agencies just have to accept the bio-data given to them.
There is not much choice given to them. As such, you as consumers, are
But, It Gets Worse...
there is something else that shocked me. The fact is it actually
benefits the agencies to have you get replacement helpers from them
again and again. (Replacement maid here means a helper or maid employed
to take over the position of the previous helper or maid.)
read this from a Chinese newspaper where an unnamed agency boss was
interviewed. He said that it is good for business if an employer keeps
getting replacements after replacements, so why should he bother to get
them a good maid?
is because each time the employer gets a replacement, he can charge the
new replacement girl maid's loan of $2,200 to $2,800 and charge the
transfer girl who is being transferred a transfer fee of $350 or more.
The more times the employer gets a replacement, the more girls he can
charge and charge. And, the cycle continues. The fact is, 1 sale from 1
customer can be easily multiplied into 4 sales or more with 2 rounds of
reporter then asked what if the employer changed to another agency. He
laughed, and said that he also owned a few other agencies.
have you ever wondered why many agencies do not bother to match the
right girl to your family?
A Strategic Decision
years ago 121 Personnel Services did provide new Indonesian helpers and
Filipino helpers. However, due to the reasons explained above, we have
decided not to do so. More so, when we do not have control over the
work performance of the girls, and the suppliers were unable to accede
to our screening requests.
was then that we made a strategic decision to focus on recruiting
experienced transfer maids for the expatriate community. Why not the
local community? This is mainly because the local community has a
misconception that transfer maids are bad.
But, Are Transfer Maids Really
answer is "no". Transfer maid is simply an industrial term for a helper
already in Singapore transferring from
Employer A to Employer B. What counts is the reason
for the helper's transfer.
local community has this misconception that transfer maids are bad
because they get their helpers from agencies who place out new helpers.
Many helpers are returned to the agency after a few days or a few weeks
with the new employer due to bad attitude or the inability to do their
work. These helpers are then transferred to another employer, and the
process repeats itself.
you would have heard of cases whereby the same transfer maids were
being transferred from one employer to another many times over and the
agency did not tell the new employer about this fact.
what if the helper is transferring because the employer is leaving
Singapore and she has worked with the employer for 4 years? What if she
has completed her contract and would like a change in work environment
after having worked 6 years with the same employer?
these transfer helper bad? Probably not, because they are transferring
due to reasons other than bad work performance or bad attitude.
So, What is the Solution?
solution, I believe, is in the recruitment
process for the expatriate community. We should be doing
something right because many of our employers are happy to give us a lot of testimonials.
what exactly did we do?
of all, we are able to exercise quality control over the kind of
helpers being placed out. Because these helpers are already in
Singapore, we do not have to rely on overseas suppliers to do any QC.
We do the QC ourselves face to face with the helpers. (QC
refers to the proper screening of suitable candidates for employment.)
the helpers we place out must have at least 2 years of working
experience, and many of them have completed their contracts. They are
transferring because their employers are leaving Singapore (since many
of our employers are expatriates) or their employers do not require
their service any more or there are other valid reasons.
also interview the helpers to get a feel about their personality and
working experience. Many of our helpers are introduced to us by their
friends. The fact is that many of us have friends who are similar to us
in personality and habits. As such, a good helper will tend to
introduce other good helper to us. This helps to increase the
chance of success.
addition, we have the 121 Match-Point System to match the right helper
to your family as closely as possible (there is no such thing as a 100%
perfect match, as you're probably aware). We will ask you some
questions pertaining to your needs and at the same time, we will also
screen the girls and shortlist those who match your requirements
for your face to face interview.
important thing to consider is the work preference of the girl. Some of
them prefer to take care of the baby instead of cooking, whereas some
of them are great cooks, but are not so good in ironing.
we will match their work preference to your work priorities as
closely as possible. As for areas where they are weaker, you can
choose to train them further or choose to be okay with it.
also encourage you to talk to the earlier employer of the
shortlisted candidates so that you can choose the best girl
possible for your family.
addition, we will also dig up their past employment history
from the MOM database so that you do not get girls who are being
transferred every 1-2 months.
you can see, this is a very rigorous screening process to find the
right helper for you.
Does that Mean Zero Replacements?
There is no perfect maid. Neither is there a perfect human being. Even
loving couples can divorce, so how can every single helper being placed
out work out perfectly. We definitely cannot
guarantee this. However, we can strive to increase the
chance of success as outlined in our procedures above.
case, you're thinking that we are perfect and every maid we place out
is perfect, I must let you know that we are
NOT perfect, and we DO NOT profess to be so. We just DO Our Best.
who expects a perfect maid isn't being realistic given the nature of
maid recruitment. I hope you understand this and bear with us should
things not work out. Nevertheless, depending on your package, we do
provide 1-2 free re-matchings should you require it. Re-matching refers
to a re-match of a more suitable helper to your needs, should the
previous helper not work out.
So, Experienced Transfer Maids
are the Best?
it really depends on whether the girl matches your needs in terms of
work experience and personality.
of our experienced transfer helpers are from the Philippines. As such,
communication in English should be easy. Sometimes, we do have some
Indonesian, Indian and Sri Lankan transfer helpers.
see, the culture and management style of the expatriates tend
to fit in better with these experienced girls. Compared to local
families, expatriates tend to be more open in their management style.
In addition, they don't like to have the girl at home on Sundays
because they would like to have some privacy on weekends. These factors
are precisely what the experienced transfer helpers like working with
transfer helpers like to have Sundays off to go to church or meet up
with their friends. They also tend to be more knowledgeable which
allows them to do marketing on their own, follow recipes for cooking,
pick up your children from school and so on. Their monthly salary is
also slightly higher than the new girls.
addition, due to their working experience, they are more likely to know
how to behave, and keep their attitude in check. To many of them,
having a secured job is important because they are supporting their
families back home.
to the new girls who may be "trying things out" and have no qualms in
running away when things get tough, an experienced girl is more likely
to bring the matter up for discussion with the employer.
positive point is that there is no maid's loan charges for transfer
maids because the girl has already paid for it a long time ago when
she first came to Singapore. Moreover, the transfer fee is paid by the
girl herself. As such, she is more motivated to keep her job. Your cost
is only the agency fee and insurance premium and MOM related
expenses. In addition, the current agency fee
plus maid's loan and other new maid related expenses for new maids is
about $2,800.00 to $4,500.00, depending on package. Our agency fee plus insurance and other related
expenses for our most popular package, in contrast, is less than $900.
This means additional savings for you.
note that the MOM has mandated a weekly day-off for all maids effective
1 January 2013. Non-compliance will result in 6 months imprisonment
and/or a fine of $5,000. For local employers, this may complicate
your schedule. However, you can negotiate to compensate your helper
in-lieu of the day-off. Nevertheless, if you compare a new helper to a
transfer helper with a fixed day-off routine, you're probably better
off with a transfer helper because she knows who she is mixing with on
her off-days; whereas a new helper, not knowing where to go, may
end up with the wrong company. Not that this will definitely happen.
But, the possibility is probably higher unless you make some
arrangements for your new helper. This may also have an adverse effect
on your security bond if your new helper runs away or breaks any work
permit conditions. Compared to an experienced helper who has a "career"
here, a new helper is more prone to running away when things don't work
Does 121 Practise "Replacement
case you're wondering whether 121 Personnel Services practise the
"replacement cycle" thing to multiply sales as described above, I must
let you know a few things.
if we do, we will not be getting all the testimonials that you are
seeing here because many employers will be unhappy with us. So, it's a
proven fact that we DO NOT practise this "replacement
you can see from our recruitment process above that we are trying
very hard NOT to have a replacement.(Replacement here
means redeploying a new helper to take over the position of the
previous helper.) If we are doing this "replacement cycle" thing, why
should we work so hard to screen the girls and match them to your
needs? Why should we encourage you to interview the girls face to face
and have a chat with their previous employer? Why should we even dig up
the employment history of the girls from the MOM database so that you
know these girls are not "kicked out" from their jobs.
we do not charge maid's loan for transfer maids (just so you know, some
agencies do charge maid's loan for transfer maids). Does this
"replacement cycle" thing even make sense in our business model if
that's the case? There is no big money to multiply in the first place.
Further, if we give unsuitable maids and have lots of replacements, we
are actually losing money because it is extremely time consuming to go
through the above rigorous recruitment process again and again. Isn't
the time better spent on getting things done right the first time? And,
that is to ensure that you don't need a replacement maid. (Replacement
maid here means a helper or maid employed to take over the position of
the previous helper or maid.)
now, you should have a good feel of the differences in the pros and
cons of employing an experienced transfer maids compared to a new maid
hope I've explained the pros and cons of employing an experienced
transfer maid well enough for you to make an informed decision. They
are quite different from new helpers from overseas, and the way
you need to manage them is also quite different.
can brief you on how to manage them, and at the same time, we
will also brief the girls on how to behave when working with a local
family. We even have a "checklist" for them to guide them on their work
like many of the local families who have successfully employed an
experienced transfer maid from us, I hope that you will have the same
Eddy Lam Yew Chiang
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If you feel that we can be of
assistance to you, please feel free to contact The 121 Customer
Care Team at:
(65) 6733-8121 (3 Lines)
Fax: (65) 6836-2518
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Orchard Road #12-07,
Far East Shopping Centre
(Next to Hilton Hotel, Opposite Thai Embassy, Near Orchard MRT)
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Closed on Saturdays and Public Holidays.
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