Maid overseas leaves in Singapore: What you need to know

Is your domestic helper returning home for a break? Here's all you need to know and tips on how you can prepare yourself.

by L.H.

Everyone deserves to spend time with their families. If your domestic helper’s taking overseas leave and heading home, then this article has everything you need to know. 

Everyone deserves to spend quality time with their families; that’s the reason why we plan holidays and make meticulous leave plans for time off from work. For foreign domestic workers in Singapore, quality time with family is much harder to come by since they’ve uprooted their lives to work here. Domestic helpers typically prefer to go on home leave in the intervening period between when their contracts end and before they renew their contracts.

As an employer—and especially if it’s your first time hiring a domestic helper—there are key aspects about your domestic helper’s overseas home leave that should know about. In this Homage guide, we’ve prepared everything you need to know about helping your domestic helper with their overseas leave. 

How your domestic helper can apply for home leave

While our foreign domestic workers can come from a variety of source countries, most domestic helpers who come to Singapore commonly hail from either Indonesia or the Philippines.

Here’s what you should know about how they can apply for home leave:

Indonesian helper

The process for getting home leave is relatively straightforward for Indonesian domestic helpers. They simply need to ensure that their passports have 6 months of validity and that their Kartu Tenaga Kerja Luar Negeri card is still valid. These documents then need to be presented together with their Work Permit to the immigration officer before they board their flight. 

Filipino helper 

Going home is slightly more tedious for Filipino helpers. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has a set of rules and regulations governing their home leave. Filipino domestic helpers intending to take home leave must first register with the POEA and obtain an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

There are a few general steps that need to be taken:

  1. Register or log into the Balik Manggagawa Online Processing System
  2. Fill in all the information required under “My Profile”, including Identification and Beneficiary.
  3. Set an appointment with the Philippines Embassy of Singapore; select “Singapore” as the location under the “Balik Manggagawa” Tab.  Remember to print out the Appointment Sheet.
  4. Head to the Philippines Embassy at the appointment date and time with the following documents:
    • Appointment Sheet
    • Verified Employment Contract

If your Filipino domestic helper’s Employment Contract has yet to be verified, then they should also bring along the following documents to the appointment for verification on the spot: 

  1. Original Signed Standard Employment Contract for Domestic Worker.
  2. Original Signed Undertaking of Employer.
  3. Photocopy of Valid Work Permit or IPA
  4. Photocopy of data page of passport valid for at least six months from the date of departure from the Philippines
  5. Photocopy of any valid identification of employer
  6. Prepare a cash payment of SG$17.00. 

During the appointment, once their OEC request has been approved, they can then log into their BM Online account and print their OEC under the “My Transactions” OEC Tab.

Do note that if your Filipino domestic worker has worked for you for less than two years, they must register through an accredited Singaporean employment agency. If they have, however, worked for you for more than two years, you can submit an OEC request on their behalf. 

Lastly, do note that Filipino domestic helpers must also hold membership in the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to be issued an OEC. If it has expired, they will be requested to renew their membership before the OEC can be issued to them.

For more information, you can refer to the Philippines Overseas Labor Office’s website here

Who pays your helper’s travel expenses?

While there are no regulations governing the travel expenses that a domestic helper incurs on home leave, MOM does encourage domestic helpers and employers to discuss and negotiate an arrangement that would be best for both parties.

Ideally, travel expenses incurred for home leave should be negotiated as part of the terms and conditions of employment at the start of the employment relationship. If your employment contract did not include travel expenses as a consideration, you should come to a mutual agreement with your domestic helper on who should bear the costs as soon as possible.

This agreement should also be recorded in writing and signed by both parties to minimise any potential disputes.

What do you need to do as an employer?

1. Remind your helper to bring her documents for re-entry into Singapore

Before your domestic helper is set to take her home leave, you should help ensure and remind her to prepare and bring the following documents when she arrives back in Singapore:

  • Documents for complying with her home country’s immigration requirements. 
  • Work Permit Card
  • Valid passport for re-entry into Singapore

As an employer, you should also keep a copy of her travel ticket or departure itinerary.

Click here for the Ministry of Manpower’s guide to overseas leaves for foreign domestic workers.

2. Postpone your helper’s Medical Examination 

If your helper’s home leave clashes with her mandatory six-monthly medical examination (6ME), you may have to request for a postponement from MOM here.

To do so, you will need to log into Singpass and provide the following:

  • A copy of your helper’s flight/ferry itinerary back to Singapore
  • Her date of return to Singapore

You will be informed of the outcome after 2 weeks.

3. Apply for a Levy Waiver after your helper returns

Depending on the duration of your domestic helper’s overseas home leave, you may also be eligible to apply for a levy waiver.

You can apply for a levy waiver if your domestic helper’s overseas home leave lasts for seven consecutive days or more. Do also note that the levy waiver will be capped at 60 calendar days per year. 

No further documents are needed to apply for the levy waiver unless they are specifically requested.

You can apply for the levy waiver only after the levy has been charged and it must be applied within a year of the levy bill. 

Apply for your levy waiver here.

Adjusting to life without a domestic helper

For those of us with kids or other dependents at home, life without a domestic helper, even if temporary, can be quite an acute source of stress. This is especially so if you’ve gotten used to having help around the house and haven’t had to do household chores in a while. Here are some ways you can adjust to the temporary change in household arrangements. 

Communicate with your family members

As your loved ones may be used to having an additional pair of hands to help around the house, your domestic helper’s absence may lead to disruptions in your family’s daily routine. Speaking to your family members and laying out what they can expect during this period can be a good first step.

Come up with a schedule for house chores

To avoid chaos and minimise the disruption to your household, it’s wise to plan ahead and come up with a household chore schedule for everyone ahead of your domestic helper’s overseas leave. This will help keep the household work to a manageable load for everyone and ensure that no one is left frustrated with household chores after a long day of housework. 

Outsource your chores

If you’re willing to shell out a little, you can consider outsourcing your household chores on a temporary basis until your domestic helper returns from her overseas home leave. This can include opting for daily meal catering or making weekly visits to the laundromat. 

Make alternative care arrangements for seniors and your children

If you have young children who need to be watched over, or elderly parents and grandparents who typically rely on your helper for meals and getting around the house, making alternative arrangements ahead of time would be key.

If you have willing relatives, you could ask if they can help out while your domestic helper is on overseas home leave. Otherwise, you could also consider professional caregiving or babysitting services for greater peace of mind.

If you need an extra pair of hands while your helper is on leave, Homage offers flexible short-term care that can be tailored to your elderly loved ones’ needs as and when you require it. Our range of home care services covers personal, respite and night care. To find out more, approach our friendly Homage Care Advisors at 6100 0055, make a Care Plan together, and start your Care Plan today! 

Alternatively, you can fill in the form below and our Care Advisory Team will get back to you.

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References

  1. HelperChoice. (n.d.). Maid Home Leave. HelperChoice. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://www.helperchoice.com/c/maid/home-leave
  2. Domestic Workers Registration | POLO Singapore. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2023, from https://polosingapore.dole.gov.ph/domestic-workers/
  3. Who should pay for an FDW’s air ticket if she goes on overseas leave? (n.d.). Ministry of Manpower Singapore. Retrieved January 24, 2023, from https://www.mom.gov.sg/faq/work-permit-for-fdw/who-should-pay-for-an-fdws-air-ticket-if-she-goes-on-overseas-leave
About the Writer
L.H.
L.H. is a writer who guzzles coffee a little too much for his own good.
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