Dear Employer

History of FDW

FDWs Well Received

First-Time Employers

Mother's Helper or Novice

Situation Today

First-Time Employers
learn from mistakes by others

Dear Employer,

The most obvious requirement for a first-time employer of a foreign domestic worker (FDW) is to take an online course or attend a seminar that is meant to help her avoid the pitfalls that may arise from a culture gap. This requirment will add a few days to the lead time for the documentation, so if you are in a hurry, the sooner you sign up to do the orientation course, the sooner your domestic helper can start working for you.

Whether you plan to employ a maid FOB (fresh off the boat) with little or no prior experience or a "transfer maid", i.e., one who is currently working in Singapore and planning to transfer for some reason, depends on your own situation and your preferences.

Are you a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) who is hands-on and needs only a relatively inexperienced mother's helper? Or are you a busy executive or businesswoman with little time or inclination to attend to the nitty gritty of housekeeping? The requirements of SAHM are obviously quite a bit different from those of a busy career woman. And there are lots of others in between.

First, let us consider the requirements of SAHM with one or two young children whom she attends to herself. Since she is at home, she will not require a full-charge housekeeper, but someone who can

  • cook simple dishes for the family,
  • do the laundry
  • and keep the house clean.

This is not to say that any and all domestic workers can independently perform the duties listed above. If the helper is a first-timer, she will need some help, some on-the-job training by Madam. (The "training" the helper received in her county, if any, may not amount to much and is often woefully inadequate.) This leads to the question: Would it therefore be better to employ someone more experienced or a greenhorn?

To answer this question, one needs to know Madam's personality. Does she want things done to a tee? Is she willing to overlook differences in preference over ways things are done? If Madam is particular about some procedure, it would be preferrable to employ a greenhorn, someone less skillful and less confident and therefore more compliant with Madam's wishes and requirements.

On the other hand, the employer can be a busy career woman or a business owner, who obviously has little time or inclination to play teacher or trainer. Her ideal employee would not a mother's helper, really, but a full-fledged take-charge experienced domestic worker often with a mind of her own, a "trained" housekeeper-cum-childminder. She may not be formally trained; her work experience is her trainer.

Conclusion: Know yourself, know your domestic helper and your relationship will be less eventful.

If you are currently having some difficulty in your current helper and would like to "get it off your chest", we will be happy to hear from you. You can write to us at We will try respond within 24 hours.