Work Permit (Foreign Domestic Worker) - Before you apply
Employers are required to apply for a Work Permit if they wish to hire a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW). The Work Permit is usually valid for two years.
If you are considering hiring a FDW, please read through the following information, guidelines and requirements to create and maintain a positive working relationship:
New FDWs from rural areas of their home countries may encounter some of these difficulties:
- Understanding and communicating in your language
- Use of modern household appliances
- Adjustment to living in high-rise buildings
- Different practices in taking care of children
They will need time to familiarise themselves with your way of life. You can help by taking time to orientate and train her, especially in the early stages of her employment.
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A well-rested FDW is more productive. You should ensure that she has sufficient rest, especially during the night. Rest days should also be catered for, as agreed between yourself and the worker.
Weekly Rest Day
All foreign domestic workers (FDWs) who have their Work Permits issued on or after 1 January 2013 will be entitled to a weekly rest day.
To give employers and FDWs greater flexibility, employers may compensate their FDWs if there is mutual written agreement between both parties for the FDWs to work on their rest days. The compensation should be at least one day’s salary or a replacement rest day taken within the same calendar month.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) understands that the weekly rest day is a new requirement and there may be questions on how employers can implement it. Therefore, MOM has produced a special rest day edition of the employer newsletter InFOCUS, and also a special guide entitled FDW Weekly Rest Day: A Guide for Employers to address commonly-asked questions and operational matters which employers may encounter.
FDW employers will each receive a copy of the newsletter and the guide in English at their homes. The Mandarin, Malay and Tamil versions of the guide are also available.
Employers who wish to receive regular updates from MOM on FDW matters may subscribe to our newsletter InFOCUS.
Employers may also refer to the media release and read the FAQs for more background information on the new weekly rest day requirement.
Members of public can contact MOM at email@example.com for any further questions or clarifications regarding the weekly rest day.
Where possible, your FDW should be given a separate room of her own. In the event that is not possible, you should ensure that sufficient space for sleep is provided. You are also expected to provide her with basic needs (e.g. food, a bed with mattress, a blanket, towels and toiletries, a fan if the sleeping area has poor ventilation etc).
Some examples of improper accommodation include making your FDW sleep in places where there is little privacy, such as on makeshift beds along the corridor or in the living room, or sharing a room with a male adult.
As an employer, you are responsible for your FDW’s medical needs. You are required to bear the full cost of her medical care should she require medical treatment, including hospitalisation.
- Medical insurance
For medical insurance policies taken up or renewed on/or after 1 January 2010, the insurance coverage must be at least $15,000 per year for each FDW’s inpatient care and day surgery during her stay in Singapore. This is in line with the employers' existing responsibility for the upkeep and well-being of their FDWs, including the provision of medical treatment.
- Personal accident insurance
It is compulsory for employers to take up a Personal Accident Insurance policy for their FDWs before they can employ the FDW. The minimum sum assured should be $40,000. Any compensation payable should be made to her or her beneficiaries.
The FDW may experience homesickness and loneliness. As her employer, you can ease those feelings by letting her communicate with her family and friends in her home country.
You should try as far as possible to integrate your FDW into your family as she is staying in your home. Do make an effort to understand her background, and to be patient and tolerant when communicating with her. It will go a long way in minimising any disputes and conflicts that may arise and affect her work performance.
Safe work conditions
It is your responsibility to ensure that the FDW performs her work in a safe manner. Her work practices must be in accordance with the approved work practices stipulated in MOM’s training courses (e.g. the Employers' Orientation Programme) and relevant safety and training materials.
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Employment laws, contracts and safety agreement
Non-coverage by the Employment Act
Domestic workers, both foreign and local, are not covered by the Employment Act.
It is not practical to regulate specific aspects of domestic work, i.e. hours of work, work on a rest day and on public holidays. For example, it would be hard to compute overtime payments as domestic workers' work/free time are difficult to define and regulate in the same way as employees working in offices or factories.
To avoid disputes, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) encourages employers and their FDWs to enter into a written employment contract.
Employment agencies commonly draft mutually agreeable contracts for the two parties involved.
In event of an employment problem or breach of contract by her employer, the FDW can lodge a complaint or file a claim with MOM. MOM will contact the employer and arrange for a meeting between the FDW and the employer to resolve the dispute.
Signing of Safety Agreement
For FDWs who are deployed from 1 December 2012 onwards, EAs will be required to facilitate the signing of a safety agreement between employers and the FDWs, i.e. when new employment relationships are established, whether for first-time or transfer FDW.
For first-time FDWs, the EA should facilitate the safety agreement after the FDW has attended the Settling-In-Programme, prior to the deployment of the FDW to the employer’s home.
For transfer FDWs, the EA should facilitate the safety agreement prior to the deployment of the FDW to the employer’s home.
The EA is not required to facilitate the safety agreement for renewals, i.e. when the employer is renewing the employment contract with her existing FDW.
This agreement is to ensure that both employers and FDWs are aware and understand MOM’s requirements when cleaning the exterior of windows. The agreement lists MOM’s restrictions on the cleaning of window exterior and employers will state their requirement for the FDW to clean the window exterior in accordance to MOM’s regulations.
The FDW will also acknowledge the employer’s requirement on cleaning the window exterior. To ensure FDWs understand, the agreement copy to be signed by the FDW will be in her native language.
All three parties, i.e. EA, employer and FDW, will sign the safety agreement and each should keep a copy of the signed agreement.
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A FDW's wages should reflect the scope of work agreed upon.
She must be paid her due salary each month, no later than seven days after the last day of the salary period. Any salary period agreed between the employer and worker shall not exceed one month. If the worker so requests, the salary shall be paid via direct transfer into the worker's bank account in a bank established in Singapore.
If it is mutually agreed that the employer should keep the bank account book, the FDW must be given access to the book at all times to check that payments are credited promptly and regularly.
The employer must also keep a record of the monthly salary paid to the FDW, and should be able to produce this record at the request of any authorised public officer.
Where appropriate, the employer should consider giving the FDW a periodic wage adjustment to reward good performance and loyalty in service.
Apart from the monthly salary, the employer can also consider offering her a contract gratuity. This sum of money, which should be negotiated between the two parties, could be paid to the FDW upon conclusion of an agreed period of employment. Such incentives may result in a more motivated and diligent FDW.
Central Provident Fund contributions are not required for FDWs.
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A FDW levy is to be paid by employers at the end of each month. Levy charges begin one day after she arrives in Singapore. For a first-time FDW, the levy will begin on the fourth day of her arrival (excluding the day of arrival).
Levy Rate ($)
|* Daily levy rate only applies to FDWs who did not work for a full calendar month. From 1 January 2011, the daily levy rate is computed based on the following: (Monthly levy rate x 12) / 365 = rounding up to the nearest cent.
Levy payments should be made via General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO). The worker’s Work Permit will be cancelled if you fail to maintain a valid GIRO account. Download the GIRO application form here.
The levy for each month is payable by the employer at the end of each month. The payment due date is the 14th (for manual payment) or 17th (for GIRO payment) of the following month. If the 17th is a non-working day, the deduction will be made on the next working day.
If you wish to view your levy bills online, you can register for the Internet Foreign Worker Levy Billing System (iFWLB).
Consequences of non-payment of Levy
If payment is not made on time, one or more of the following measures may be taken:
- A late payment penalty will be charged.
- Existing Work Permits will be cancelled.
- The employer will not be allowed to apply for new Work Permits or renew his existing Work Permits.
- Legal proceedings will be taken to recover the unpaid levy liability.
You may apply for a levy concession if you satisfy any of the conditions below:
Levy concession will be granted on a one-to-one basis, i.e. levy concession for one FDW based on one eligible person in the household. An employer may apply for the levy concession, up to two FDWs (if there are two eligible persons in the household).
||Type of Levy Concession Schemes
||Young child scheme
- The employer or spouse has a child who is a Singapore citizen and below 12 years old living with him/her
- The employer or spouse has a grandchild who is a Singapore citizen and below 12 years old living with him/her
||Aged person (FDW employer/spouse) scheme
- The employer or co-residing spouse is a Singapore Citizen aged 65 years or above
- The employer or spouse is a Singapore Citizen and the other party is a Singapore Permanent Resident aged 65 years or above, both of whom live at the same registered address as in the NRIC.
||Aged person (parent/grandparent) scheme
- The employer or spouse has a parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandparent-in-law who is a Singapore Citizen aged 65 years or above, living with them at the same registered address as in the NRIC
- The employer or spouse is a Singapore Citizen and has a parent, parent-in-law, grandparent or grandparent-in- law who is a Singapore Permanent Resident aged 65 years or above, living with them at the same registered address as in the NRIC.
||Persons with disability (PWD) scheme
||Employers with disabilities or who have family members with disabilities and require a full-time caregiver's assistance in daily activities (washing/bathing, feeding, going to the toilet, dressing and mobility).
For more information on the eligibility criteria and application procedures, please visit the website of the Centre for Enabled Living.
For Conditions A(i) and B: - The employer is not required to apply for the levy concession as long as details of all family members living in the same household are provided in the Work Permit application.
For Conditions A(ii) and C(ii): - The employer is not required to apply for levy concession as long as details of all family members living in the same household are provided in the Work Permit application made on or after 1 January 2006.
For Condition C(i): - The employer is not required to apply for levy concession as long as details of all family members living in the same household are provided in the Work Permit application made on or after 1 August 2004.
Please allow up to two weeks for the application to be processed. The outcome will be mailed to the employer. The Foreign Worker Levy will be reviewed annually and adjusted if necessary.
Foreign Domestic Worker Grant
The Foreign Domestic Worker Grant is a monthly grant of $120 by Ministry of Social and Family Development
to provide more support to families who care for frail elderly or persons with disability, as long as he/she has moderate to severe disabilities. This will include those with sensory impairment, autism or more severe intellectual disabilities. The FDW Grant will apply to households with a per capita monthly income of up to $2,200. The FDW Grant is over and above the existing FDW levy concession of $145 per month for households with elderly/ persons with disabilities.
Applicants for the FDW Grant are required to go for an assessment by a certified doctor. They will also have to send their FDWs for relevant training in care giving. There is no limit to the number of training courses the FDW can attend per year. The training can be offset with an annual caregiver training grant capped at $200 per care recipient for caregiver training. This training grant can be used for the training of FDWs.
The FDW Grant is administered by the Centre for Enabled Living (CEL). For more details, including the application process and pre-requisite training, please visit the CEL website
or call 1800 8585 885. The grant will take effect in the 3rd quarter of 2012.
Waiver of Levy
Employers may apply for a waiver of the levy under the following circumstances.
Your Foreign Domestic Worker:
- is on home leave
- - Not applicable to Malaysian workers
- Levy waiver is capped at a maximum of 60 calendar days per year.
- is on vacation leave* for at least seven consecutive days.
Levy waiver is capped at a maximum of 60 calendar days per year.
- fails to return to Singapore after home or vacation leave
- is on hospitalisation leave
- is under police custody or is housed at the Embassy.
* Vacation leave refers to the period where the FDW travels to another country (other than the country of origin) for her own leisure. She should not be carrying out any duties as your FDW.
You should apply for waiver of levy within a year after the end of the month in which the levy was paid. For example, to claim for a levy refund for November 2010 (paid in December 2010), employers must apply before end of December 2011.
Applications for waiver of FDW levy can be made:
Change of employer’s address
Please inform the Central Provident Fund Board (79 Robinson Road. Singapore 068897) and the Work Pass Division (18 Havelock Road, Singapore 059764) in writing within 14 days of any change in your address. The following documents are required:
- Documents showing your new address (e.g. NRIC or work pass)
- Telephone or utilities bills if you are a foreigner
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Termination of services, repatriation and security bond
Termination of services
When you no longer require the services of your FDW, you should ensure that all issues arising from her employment (e.g. outstanding wages, compensation claims) have been settled before cancelling the Work Permit.
Repatriation and security bond
You should give your FDW reasonable notice of her repatriation to her home country and bear the full cost of her repatriation. To ensure that employers bear full responsibility, a security bond must be executed with MOM’s Work Pass Division. Under the bond, employers are required to post a security deposit of $5,000 per FDW in the form of an insurance or banker's guarantee. This deposit may be forfeited if you breach any of the security bond conditions, including failing to repatriate your FDW upon cancellation of her Work Permit.
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Disputes with your Foreign Domestic Worker
Disputes 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 or crime, you should not take matters into your own hands by meting out physical or other forms of punishment.
If you need assistance, please contact your employment agency or MOM which offers help to resolve such employment disputes. The conciliation service is provided free-of-charge. Please contact MOM at 6438 5122.
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Disputes with your employment agency
If you have found your agency's service unsatisfactory, or if you have a contractual dispute with your employment agency, you may seek mediation services from one of two accreditation bodies in Singapore, the Association of Employment Agencies, and CaseTrust. Complete and send the following form (mailing address inside) to MOM:
Issues for which you can seek assistance include:
- Delay in application/ cancellation/ placement of Foreign Workers
- Refund of loan and fees
- Unsatisfactory level of services provided
To identity which accreditation body your agency is accredited with, please refer to the list of accredited EAs on AEAS' and CaseTrust's website as listed below.
If your employment agency is not accredited with any accreditation body, you may approach CASE for assistance to resolve your disputes. Case's Consumer Hotline is 6100 0315. Hotline hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-12pm.
Contact details of the accreditation bodies:
1) Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore)
- Contact Details: +65 6836 2618
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Address: Blk 9 Julan Kukoh #03-77 Singapore 160009
- Contact Details: +65 6461 1800
- Email: email@example.com
- Address: Blk 170 Ghim Moh Road #05-01 Ulu Pandan Community Building Singapore 279621
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Abuse and ill-treatment
MOM takes a serious view of employers who ill-treat or abuse their foreign workers, especially those in domestic employment.
Penalties for offenders
Employers who abuse their Foreign Workers will be severely dealt with. The Singapore Police conducts prompt and thorough investigations into all such cases. Errant employers will be charged in court and those found guilty of physical abuse or ill-treatment will be jailed, fined and/or caned.
Convicted employers and their spouses will not be allowed to employ another FDW permanently.
Some of the offences and the associated penalties are listed below:
|Voluntarily causing hurt
||Up to 1 year imprisonment and/or $1,500 fine
|Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means
||Up to 5 years imprisonment, fine or caning, or any 2 of these punishments
|Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
||Up to 7 years imprisonment; offenders are also liable to be fine or caned
||Up to 1 year imprisonment and/or $1,000 fine
|Wrongful confinement for 3 or more days
||Up to 2 years imprisonment and/or fine
|Wrongful confinement for 10 or more days
||Up to 3 years imprisonment and fine
|Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman
||Up to 1 year imprisonment and/or fine
|Assault or use of criminal force on a person with intent to outrage modesty
||Up to 2 years imprisonment, fine or caning, or any 2 such punishments
|Outraging of modesty
||Up to 2 years imprisonment and/or fine If hurt or fear of hurt is caused: Caning and 2 – 10 years imprisonment
||8 – 20 years imprisonment and caning with not less than 12 strokes
||Up to 2 years imprisonment and/or fine If threat is to cause death or grievous hurt: Up to 7 years imprisonment or more and/or fine
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Under the existing Work Permit conditions, Foreign Domestic Workers can only be employed for the performance of domestic chores for their employers, at the residential addresses stated on the Work Permits.
FDWs may only be deployed to work at another address if:
- Their duties in their employer’s home includes looking after the employer’s young children or elderly parents; and
- They are at the other address to continue their duty of looking after the employer’s young children or elderly parents.
Employers can be charged for illegally employing or deploying a FDW.
Penalties for offenders
The penalty for illegal employment without a valid Work Permit is a fine equivalent to between two and four years of the FDW levy, and/or imprisonment for up to one year. For subsequent convictions, the errant employer will face mandatory imprisonment.
Employers who illegally deploy their FDWs can be fined up to $5,000. In addition, the errant employer will be permanently barred from employing FDWs. The $5,000 security deposit posted with the MOM might also be forfeited.
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