Since there isn’t a minimum monthly salary for helpers, here are tips on how much to start off with, plus advice on increments. By Karola Clark
Photo: Andrea De Martin/123rf.com
The monthly salary for helpers is mandated by the helper’s country of origin (both Indonesia and the Philippines require a $550 minimum). (View the average salaries here.)
There are also other monthly costs incurred by the employer: Ministry of Manpower levy, $265; bond and insurance, $350; toiletries and food, $200; plus miscellaneous expenses like an EZ-Link card, mobile phone bill and medical costs. The real average cost of a helper each month? $1,200 and up.
Giving your helper a raise
You’re thinking of rewarding your helper with a raise, but you’re not sure where to start. According to Eddy Lam, Managing Director of 121 Personnel Services, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) lets employers and helpers decide on pay raises, but recommends increments based on the helper’s performance for the previous two years of service.
“A good rule of thumb would be 5 to 10 per cent upon renewal of the contract,” he says.
What about bonuses?
Some employers give bonuses throughout the year or a red packet during Chinese New Year. Again, there are no hard and fast rules on this.
Investing in your helper
If you’re happy with your helper, signing her up for useful classes is another way to reward them.
Try these classes:
1. Nutritious and Delicious teaches helpers menu planning, fermentation techniques as well as how to make soups, salads, breakfasts and more. Six classes are $450, while a single class is $85.
2. Mother and Child has a basic course ($250) that teaches emergency techniques, kitchen hygiene plus CPR for babies and children. Singapore Red Cross’s first aid course ($120) covers CPR, wound bandaging, immobilisation steps for fractures and how to handle poisonings, bites, stings and burns. The Foreign Domestic Work Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) offers infant and elderly care and more.
3. Try Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (HOME) for classes on computer literacy, sewing and cosmetology. Aidha’s course (from $400) can equip her with financial, computer and leadership skills.
Hiring more helpers
MOM will consider applications for second helpers for families that have two or more children under 18, or a parent over 60 in the same household.
But, be warned: Jealousy and conflict between both helpers may arise over work assignments, pay and accommodation.
While it’s common and acceptable under MOM regulations for two helpers to share a room, giving each helper personal space can help smoothen their working relationship.
Some employers assume that hiring helpers who are friends or relatives is the key.
Eddy cautions that this is not necessarily foolproof. He has seen a mother-daughter team work well together, while two friends end up with a broken relationship.
If you’re adding a “junior” helper, make it clear that she will need to take instructions from a senior helper. Make roles clear from the outset and keep the workloads fair to foster a harmonious household.
A version of this story first appeared in The Finder.