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Refund of EA service fee

From 1 June 2022, employment agencies have to provide a refund option of at least 50% of the service fees paid by the employer, if the MDW’s employment is terminated within the first six months of employment.

What is it

If an migrant domestic worker’s (MDW’s) employment is terminated within the first six months of employment, the employment agency (EA) engaged by the employer is required to provide a refund option of at least 50% of the service fees paid by the employer.

The policy is applicable:

  • For up to three MDWs placed by the EA to the same employer, and
  • If each of the MDW’s employment was terminated within the first six months of employment.
The employer is not entitled to a refund, including service fees paid for earlier MDWs, if:
  • Any of the MDWs’ employment lasted more than six months, or
  • A fourth MDW was hired through the EA.

For example:

Employment duration of MDW
(placed by EA to same employer)
Does refund policy apply?
1st MDW 2nd MDW 3rd MDW 4th MDW
3 months - - - Yes.
The MDW’s employment was terminated within the first six months of employment.
3 months 8 months - - No.
The 2nd MDW’s employment was terminated after six months.
3 months 3 months 3 months - Yes.
All 3 MDW’s employment were terminated within the first six months of employment.
3 months 3 months 3 months 3 months No.
The employer hired 4 MDWs through the same EA.

When does it take effect

The policy applies to service fees paid on or after 1 June 2022.


What is ‘service fees’

‘Service fees’ is all fees paid by the employer to the EA, excluding:

  • Costs of local requirements related to the entry and employment of MDWs such as work permit application and issuance, Settling-In Programme, medical examination, prevailing SHN and tests.
  • Costs of requirements imposed by the government of the MDW’s home country such as the fees payable for the Overseas Employment Certificate (Philippines) or the fees payable for the Employment Contract (Indonesia).
  • The MDW’s placement loan.

When is it applicable

If an MDW’s employment was terminated within the first six months of employment, EAs are required to provide a refund option unless:

  • The employer engaged the EA to perform only administrative work relating to the hiring of the MDW and the EA did not provide any matching services.
  • The employer breached any employment law or committed an offence against the MDW.
  • The MDW was hired as a caregiver and caregiving is not needed anymore. For example, the person being cared for has passed away or has moved to alternative care.
If the MDW was hired as a caregiver, EAs should ensure that it is clearly stated in the service agreement that the MDW was hired to care for specific dependants in the household. Otherwise, it would be assumed that the MDW was not hired as a caregiver, and the EAs would have to provide a refund.

How to get refund

Employers can approach their EA if the conditions are met. To help the EA understand the reasons for termination and improve their matching, employers have to allow the EA to speak to the employer and the MDW, before terminating the MDW’s employment.

More information

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