Employer’s Guide For Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) In Singapore
This guide aims to help you build a positive working relationship with your foreign domestic worker (FDW). It includes information on rest days, well-being, salary and other matters.
Rest days and well-being for foreign domestic worker
As an employer, you are responsible for the health and well-being of your foreign domestic worker (FDW). You should provide for rest days, proper accommodation, adequate medical care and safe work conditions.
To ensure that your foreign domestic worker gets enough mental and physical rest, you should allow her to have a regular rest day.
Your FDW is entitled to a weekly rest day if her Work Permit was issued or renewed after 1 January 2013.
You and your FDW should mutually agree on which day of the week she should take the rest day. To avoid disputes, both of you could have this agreement in writing.
If your FDW agrees to work on her rest day, you should compensate her with one of the following:
- At least 1 day’s salary.
- A replacement rest day taken within the same month.
To find out more on the rest day requirement, see these resources:
- Rest day edition of the inFOCUS newsletter.
- FDW Weekly Rest Day: A Guide for Employers – in English, Mandarin, Malay or Tamil.
- Press release on weekly rest days for foreign domestic workers.
You can contact MOM at email@example.com if you have questions about the weekly rest day.
A new FDW from a rural area may encounter some of these difficulties:
- Understanding and communicating in your language.
- Using modern household appliances.
- Adjusting to living in high-rise buildings.
- Having different practices in taking care of children.
She will need time to familiarise herself with your way of life. You can help by taking time to orientate and train her, especially in the early stages of her employment.
You need to ensure that your FDW’s accommodation meets the following requirements:
- Adequate shelter: the accommodation must adequately protect your FDW from environmental elements such as sun, rain or strong winds.
- Basic amenities: you must minimally provide your FDW with a mattress, pillow, blanket, bathroom amenities and toiletries. Examples of toiletries include soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
- Sufficient ventilation: your FDW’s accommodation must be sufficiently ventilated. Mechanical ventilation (e.g. electrical fan) should be provided if natural ventilation is inadequate.
- Safety: your FDW should not sleep near any dangerous equipment or structure that could potentially cause harm or hurt to her.
- Modesty: your FDW must not sleep in the same room as a male adult or teenager.
- Space and privacy: you should provide your FDW with a separate room. If that is not possible, you should ensure that her accommodation has adequate space and privacy.
You must provide your FDW with 3 meals a day. Your FDW requires sufficient food to perform household chores.
An example of a day’s food intake for a female engaged in moderate activity is as follows:
- Breakfast: 4 slices of bread with spread.
- Lunch: 1 bowl of rice + three-quarter cup of cooked vegetables + palm-sized amount of meat (fish/poultry/beef/lamb) + fruit
- Dinner: 1 bowl of rice + three-quarter cup of cooked vegetables + palm-sized amount of meat (fish/poultry/beef/lamb) + fruit
Be sensitive to your FDW’s needs when it comes to food. Do not force your FDW to eat food that she is not supposed to or is not comfortable with. For example, your FDW may not be able to eat certain food due to her religious beliefs, or she may not be accustomed to your family’s dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian food or porridge).
As an employer, you are responsible for your FDW’s medical needs.
You need to bear the full cost of any medical care, including hospitalisation, and provide her with medical and personal accident insurance.
You FDW may experience homesickness and loneliness. You can help her cope with those feelings by teaching her how she could contact her family and how she could send letters home.
You should try your best to integrate your FDW into your family. You can do that by being patient and tolerant and making an effort to understand her background.
Safe Work Conditions
You must ensure that the FDW works safely. She will have to follow the approved work practices stipulated in MOM’s training materials and courses (e.g. the Employers’ Orientation Programme).
Contracts and safety agreement for Foreign Domestic Worker
You are encouraged to sign an employment contract with your foreign domestic worker (FDW) and are required to sign a safety agreement with her.
FDWs are not covered by the Employment Act because it is not practical to regulate specific aspects of domestic work, such as hours of work and work on public holidays.
However, MOM encourages you to sign an employment contract with your FDW to avoid disputes. You and your FDW also need to sign a safety agreement before she starts working for you.
The terms and conditions in your employment contract should be mutually agreed between you and your FDW.
As an employer, you are encouraged to cover all of the following:
- Placement loan
- Number of rest days per month
- Compensation in lieu of rest day
- Notice period
- Compensation in lieu of termination notice
You can get your employment agency to draft an employment contract for you and your FDW.
Terminating an Employment Contract
Early termination is allowed to maintain flexibility for you and your FDW, as circumstances may change.
Either you or your FDW can terminate the employment contract by giving the notice period stated in the employment contract. If the notice period cannot be given, the party terminating the employment should pay salary in lieu of notice. Notice period can be waived by mutual consent.
When you hire a first-time or transfer FDW, your employment agency needs to arrange for you and her to sign a safety agreement.
The aim of the agreement is to ensure that both of you understand MOM’s restrictions for cleaning the exterior of windows.
You do not need to sign a safety agreement if you are renewing your existing FDW’s contract.
When to sign
Refer to the table for when you should sign the safety agreement:
If your FDW is
Sign the agreement
|A first-time FDW||
|A transfer FDW||
What it covers
The safety agreement:
- Lists the restrictions on cleaning the exterior of windows.
- States that your requirements for cleaning windows will comply with our regulations.
- Includes the FDW’s acknowledgment of your requirement on window cleaning.
To ensure that your FDW fully understands the agreement, the copy she signs will be in her native language.
The agreement will be signed by three parties: you, the employment agency and the FDW. You should each keep a copy of the agreement.
Paying the salary of a Foreign Domestic Worker
You must pay your foreign domestic worker (FDW) the monthly salary that you declare to MOM. You need to pay the salary within 7 days of the end of the month.
As part of the Work Permit application, you must declare the monthly salary that your FDW will be receiving.
When to pay
You must pay your FDW her salary each month, no later than 7 days after the last day of the salary period.
The salary period must not exceed 1 month.
It is not advisable for you to keep your FDW’s salary as this can lead to misunderstandings if the employment relationship turns sour or if either party decides to end the employment relationship prematurely. You should allow your FDW to manage her own salary to minimise unnecessary misunderstandings.
How to pay
You can transfer the salary directly into the FDW’s bank account in Singapore. The bank book should be kept by your FDW.
If salaries are paid in cash, you must keep a record of the salary and be able to produce this record if requested. Both you and your FDW should sign the record to confirm that payment is made.
You could consider raising your FDW’s salary periodically as a reward for good performance and loyalty in service.
You can also consider giving the FDW a contract gratuity. This money can be paid to the FDW when she ends her contract with you.
This incentive, which both of you should agree on, could motivate her to perform better.
Resolving disputes with an FDW or Employment Agency
During employment, you might encounter disputes with your foreign domestic worker (FDW) or employment agency. You can get help.
Disputes with your FDW
Disputes with your FDW might arise because of misunderstandings and differing expectations.
When these happen, you should first try to resolve them with your FDW. Even if there is suspicion that she might have committed a misdeed, you should not take matters into your own hands by punishing her. You should report any criminal matters to the authorities.
You can also give feedback on your FDW with MOM for other prospective employers to view.
Disputes with your Employment Agency
Your employment agency is required to disclose its dispute resolution mechanism to you. If you have a contractual dispute or are unhappy with the employment agency’s service, these issues should be resolved according to the agreed dispute resolution mechanism.
If it is a dispute over the service agreement which cannot be resolved through mediation, you could consider consulting the Small Claims Tribunals.
You can also get in touch with the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) (AEAS) at 6836 2618 for dispute resolution.
Abuse and ill-treatment of a Foreign Domestic Worker
Employers will face severe penalties if they are convicted of abusing a foreign domestic worker (FDW).
MOM takes allegations of abuse and ill-treatment of an FDW seriously, especially if they concern physical or sexual abuse.
If you suspect that an FDW is being abused or ill-treated, report the matter to the police.
Complaints of abuse are investigated by the police.
If convicted, employers will face severe penalties under the law. They and their spouses will also be permanently banned from employing another FDW.
Employment rules for Foreign Domestic Workers
A foreign domestic worker (FDW)’s deployment must comply with Work Permit conditions. As an employer, you will be penalised if you illegally deploy her to work for someone else or perform non-domestic chores.
- Requires a valid Work Permit.
- Can only work for her employer.
- Can only perform domestic chores.
- Can only work at the residential address stated in the Work Permit.
- Cannot take on any part-time work.
You can place your FDW at another address during daytime only if it is to take care of your young children or elderly parents.
For illegally deploying an FDW, the penalty is a fine of up to $10,000. Convicted employers may also be banned from employing FDWs.
For employing an FDW without a valid Work Permit, the penalty is a fine between $5,000 and $30,000, or imprisonment for up to 1 year, or both. For subsequent convictions, offenders face mandatory imprisonment.
Foreign Domestic Worker interview
Your FDW may be selected to go for an interview required by MOM, especially if she’s in the first few months of employment. If she is selected, her attendance for the interview is compulsory. Find out what to expect for the interview.
What is the FDW interview
If your FDW is selected, you will receive a letter notifying you of the scheduled date and time. As her employer, you must ensure that your FDW attends the interview on the date scheduled. The interview will be conducted by the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) on behalf of MOM.
CDE is a non-governmental organisation set up by the Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress (SNTUC) to help both local and foreign domestic workers address work-related challenges that they may face.
During the interview, your FDW will be asked employment related questions, such as:
- How well is she adapting to her work environment?
- Was she provided with adequate food and rest?
She will also be reminded on the importance of safe working conditions as well as her rights and responsibilities.
Why does MOM interview your FDW
Your FDW will need to adjust to her new working and living environment, especially if she’s working in Singapore for the first time. If she can adapt well, she will be able to settle in more quickly. This will help foster a good relationship between your family and the FDW.
The interview will hence help MOM understand how your FDW is adjusting and allow timely intervention, if necessary.
Going for the interview
|Location||Centre for Domestic Employees
2 Havelock Road
Havelock II, #02-04
|When||The specific date and time will be in your interview letter.|
|Duration||45 minutes to 1 hour.|
|Documents to bring along||
· The interview letter.
· Her Work Permit card and passport.
· Her employment contract.
· Any other documents, if requested.
You, or your household members, can accompany your FDW for her interview. However, the interview is conducted only with your FDW.
If you lose your interview letter, you can call CDE at 6592 5169 on weekdays between 9am to 6pm to confirm the scheduled appointment.
If your FDW is unable to attend the interview, you need to reschedule the appointment. You need to contact CDE at least 3 working days before your scheduled appointment date:
Phone: 6592 5169
If your FDW does not attend the interview, her Work Permit may be revoked.
Sending a Foreign Domestic Worker home
When your foreign domestic worker (FDW)’s employment ends, you need to complete certain steps before she departs for her home country.
Before you send your FDW home:
- Ensure that your helper has a valid passport.
- Buy her an air ticket to the international airport in her home country, nearest to her hometown. Her departure date must be within 2 weeks after cancelling her work permit.
- Resolve all outstanding employment issues (e.g. salary). Give her advance notice of her departure.
You must pay the associated costs of sending her home, including her air ticket and check-in luggage.
Overseas leave for Foreign Domestic Worker
Your foreign domestic worker (FDW) may wish to take time off to visit her family. You can get a levy waiver for the time she is away and defer her 6-monthly medical examination, if needed.
Preparing for overseas leave
Before your helper goes for her overseas leave, you need to:
- Ensure that your helper has a valid passport.
- Check ahead with her embassy on her home country’s immigration requirements.
- Make sure she brings along her Work Permit card and passport when she leaves. She will need these documents to re-enter Singapore.
- Keep a copy of her travel ticket or departure itinerary.
If your helper is away for an extended period of time, you can choose to cancel her Work Permit. If you cancel her permit, you will need to apply for a new Work Permit to employ her again.
Applying for levy waiver
You will continue to pay levy when your helper is on overseas leave.
You can apply for a levy waiver when she returns to Singapore.
To qualify for levy waiver, the overseas leave must be at least 7 consecutive days and the waiver period is capped at a maximum of 60 calendar days per calendar year.
Postponing the 6-monthly medical examination
If required, you can also request to defer your helper’s 6-monthly medical examination (6ME) while she is on overseas leave.
If the FDW does not return
If your helper fails to return to Singapore from overseas leave, you must:
- Cancel the Work Permit to stop the levy.
- Keep a copy of your helper’s travel ticket or a record of departure itinerary as proof.
After MOM has verified that your helper has left and not re-entered Singapore, MOM will proceed to discharge the security bond.
You can also apply for a levy waiver for the whole period of absence.
If the FDW re-enters Singapore before the security bond has been discharged, you must send the FDW home immediately. Otherwise, the security bond may be forfeited.
When an FDW employer can be debarred
Employers can be debarred from hiring foreign domestic workers (FDWs) if they commit certain offences.
MOM may debar employers for infringing employment rules and regulations under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
The infringements include the following:
- Abuse of an FDW.
- Exploiting or ill-treating an FDW e.g. not paying her salary or not providing her with adequate food and rest.
- Instructing an FDW to perform tasks that compromise her safety and health.
- Illegal employment or deployment of an FDW.
When an employer is debarred
If an employer is under investigation for offences, MOM will take this into consideration when they apply for or renew a Work Permit for an FDW.
Employers who are debarred will not be allowed to apply for a new Work Permit for an FDW or renew an existing Work Permit.
The period of debarment depends on the severity of the offences committed.