No trial period for domestic helpers in Singapore who start a new job


I was questionned on my Facebook page about the possibility for a domestic helper in Singapore to be hired with a trial period before she is confirmed in her job by her new employer. Let me bring here some clarifications.

What is a trial period? In many Western countries, it’s quite common  to hire an employee with a trial period (from 1 month up to 6 months for some executives in France).  During this trial period, the contract can be interrupted anytime and the employee can be fired with a very short notice and without any compensation, except her salary due for the worked period. This trial period allows both parties to separate in a simple and quick manner. It also gives the possibility to avoid many tensions in instances where there is not fit between employer and employee.

In Singapore,  when a domestic helper is hired, from day 1 until the end of the contract, the contractual relation between her and her employer remains the same. The domestic helper must start with her new employer on the day that her work permit is issued, which comes a few days after it has been approved. The work permit is delivered for a period of 2 years [or until expiry of her passport if it’s shorter than 2 years]. This issuing of the work permit is the last step of the application put in by the new employer. Therefore, it means that he / she (the new employer) has  completed with MOM (Ministry of Manpower) the entire hiring procedure. In this procedure, the employer has signed a contract with MOM stating that he/ she recognizes to be fully responsible for the domestic helper. So from day 1 when the domestic helpers starts her new job, the new employer has to comply with all clauses of conditions of work permit.

Any possibility to get a work permit for a duration shorter than 2 years? No absolutely not. All insurances (accident and medical) as well as the letter of guaranty for the security bond are signed for a period of 26 months. There is no way to purchase an insurance package for another duration.

Can the employer hire a domestic helper for 1 month and then replace her if she doesn’t meet the employer’s expectations?  Yes but with money consequences! If the employer decides to breach the contract, he has anyway the responsibility to take care of the helper until she is either transfered to a new family or repatriated. If the employer decides to replace his / her helper with a new one, then he has to purchase another “maid insurance package”. However, with some insurance companies, the employer can be re-imbursed of the unused portion of the first insurance that he purchased: check on the contract!

But what if the helper decides to breach the contract and is asking for repatriation? The employer has to pay for her return ticket. Even when this happens very shortly after the helper has started her job. Let me explain: from day 1 that the helper is present at her new employer’s house, the employer has to bear all of the following costs: food and lodging, toiletries, all health costs (if she gets sick) but also all repatriation costs. Take for example the case of a newly hired helper who after 1 week in her new job, needs to be urgently repatriated because of a family serious problem: the employer has to pay for her air ticket. And what happens if she is injured (let’s say with a broken limb) and she is asking to be repatriated for her recovery: same, the employer has to pay even if this occurs as early as day 1! Even if the helper had commited  a serious offense in Singapore (I have to say this is very exceptionnal: I know about 1 case only in 7 years I’ve been here!)

My final word will be for employers:

Be aware that from first day with a domestic helper, you must pay:

  1. for her repatriation costs whatever the reasons of the interruption of the contract!
  2. another insurance to cover the next helper if you decide to replace the one who leaves you.

So before you hire, make sure that you have the fit with your candidate! And don’t expect people to change!

“You must be the change you want to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi)

About helpagency

French expatriate in Singapore since 2005, dealing with FDWs issues since 2008, offering training for FDWs (Children Health Urgent Care course)
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