Domestic Helpers in Singapore: What to Do When They Arrive

Hiring a domestic helper for the first time? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Find out how you can prepare for her arrival in this simple Homage guide.

by L.H.

Singapore’s reliance on domestic workers is undeniable. As of December 2022, the number of Migrant Domestic Workers (DWs) in the country stood at 268, 500. Hiring a domestic worker for the first time can be a daunting task for many first-time hirers, especially if you are unfamiliar with the process.

As much as hiring a maid or live-in helper is a common practice among households, it is essential to ensure that the process is carried out correctly. In this simple Homage guide, we’ll guide you through the process of hiring a domestic helper, from preparing for their arrival to managing the employer-helper relationship.

Preparing for your domestic helper’s arrival

Before your new live-in domestic helper arrives, there are a few essential steps to carry out to make sure her arrival is as smooth, comfortable and fuss-free as possible.

1. Get your paperwork in order

Before she arrives, it is of paramount importance that you’ve gotten all necessary paperwork in order. Make sure you’ve applied for a work permit and purchased medical insurance for your domestic helper.

2. Set up suitable living quarters for her

It is also necessary to check that your home is suitable for a live-in helper. At the bare minimum, you should consider that you need to provide a separate living space for your helper that includes include a bed, storage, and a place to cook and wash.

3. Purchase essential supplies and equipment

Remember, if it’s difficult for you to do it, it’s also difficult for your domestic helper as well. Make sure you purchase necessary supplies and equipment, such as cleaning supplies, toiletries, and cooking utensils for your domestic helper to carry out her job to the best of her abilities.

4. Create a reasonable work schedule

Creating a schedule for your domestic helper helps both of you to adjust to the new living situation: she is now working in your house and you now have someone new living with you. A well-designed schedule not only helps your domestic helper adjust to her new role but also sets out clear expectations from both you and herself regarding what work needs to be done. This can help your domestic helper manage her time as well. 
It is recommended that you create the work schedule in consultation with your domestic helper so that she is agreeable to it as well. 

The schedule should be written in English and any other languages your domestic helper speaks, such as Bahasa or Burmese. Overall, the schedule will help avoid conflicts by getting everyone on the same page about what’s expected.

Here’s a template you can consider:


  • Make beds
  • Collect and wash laundry as needed
  • Wipe down bathrooms
  • Wash dishes and sanitize food preparation areas
  • Mop kitchen floor
  • Take out garbage and replace garbage bags
  • Sweep
  • Put things away/tidy up    


  • Children’s room (dust, drapes, windows & dehumidifiers)
  • Vacuum


  • Study room (dust, drapes, windows & dehumidifiers)
  • Wednesday
  • Kitchen (dust, windows, garbage cans, fridge, wash cleaning clothes, recycling)
  • Vacuum


  • Surfaces and walls: clean smudges, etc.
  • Friday
  • Master bedroom (dust, drapes, windows & dehumidifiers)
  • Air purifier (inside/outside body, air quality sensor, & vacuum filters)
  • Dehumidifier (clean outside, filter & wash inside of water holder)
  • Laundry: sheets, pillowcases, comforter covers
  • Floors: mop


  • Check house (lights, hangers, doorknobs, drains, batteries in toys, appliances, etc.)
  • Repairs (household, clothes, etc.)


  • Rest Day

1st Thursday

  • Air conditioners: dust outside, air intake/outlet
  • Water boiler: clean inside with citric acid

1st Friday

  • Laundry: mattress pads, pillow covers
  • Laundry: bath mats, shower curtains

1st Saturday

  • Clean and condition leather sofa
  • Clean flat iron and steam iron

Special Tasks

1st week February

  • Clean out & dust closets, drawers, cabinets


  • Laundry: comforters, blankets, decorative pillows

1st week Sept/Oct

  • Clean out & dust closets, drawers, cabinets

5. Give your helper access to the Internet and a mobile phone 

Internet and mobile phone access are very important for your helper to stay connected with her family and friends back home. This helps her have a healthy work-life balance, keep her spirits up, and maintain connections with her community and loved ones. 

Communicating expectations

Communication is key to any harmonious relationship in and out of work—this is all the more the case when your home is someone’s workplace. You must therefore set clear guidelines and expectations for your helper’s duties and responsibilities to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. 

You should establish rules and boundaries within the household, such as what areas your helper can and cannot enter, and what tasks she is responsible for. Creating a positive and respectful working environment can help your helper feel comfortable and motivated to do her job well.

Of course, it is essential to be patient and understanding when communicating with your helper, especially if there are language barriers. Imagine if you were alone in a foreign country and couldn’t speak the local language well—you’d be apprehensive and scared to start a new job as well. Tools such as Google Translate can help overcome your communication barriers. Keeping an open mind to learning words and phrases from your helper’s native tongue is also a good idea to practice and can help foster a good relationship between you and your helper. 

Training your domestic helper

With new domestic helpers, there can be a need to provide training and guidance for an initial period of time to ensure that she knows how to perform her duties effectively and safely. Basic household duties and routines should be taught, such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry, especially if you have any personal peculiarities or quirks in your household routines. Your helper should also be taught how to handle household appliances and equipment safely to avoid accidents.

Personal hygiene and cleanliness should also be emphasized, as this is crucial for maintaining a healthy and hygienic living environment. 

You should also teach your helper essential communication skills as they may need to interact with your family members who may have their own communication quirks as well.

Internet and phone usage as well as rest times should be addressed and agreed upon during training as well. Your helper should be given adequate rest times and allowed to use the phone and Internet during her free time.

Using the schedule that you created with her can be a good way of helping your helper improve on her weaknesses or deficiencies as well. Speak to her and engage in dialogue about the ways she has met or exceeded expectations in the schedule or point out to her which tasks she needs to improve further on. 

Managing the employer-helper relationship

Building a positive working relationship with your helper is crucial to ensuring a harmonious household and peace of mind for yourself.

To build a positive working relationship, consider the following tips: 

  1. Show appreciation

    At any workplace, everyone wants to feel appreciated and know that their work is valued. Your domestic helper is no different. Show appreciation by thanking her and consider providing perks or other incentives as a reward when appropriate.

  2. Communicate effectively

    Often while we assume that we communicate perfectly based on how our daily interactions with loved ones or colleagues, we may actually still have communication flaws which are magnified when communicating with others foreign to our culture and country. Think about how you can improve your communication skills and always check in with your domestic helper if you have practised clear and effective communication with her.

  3. Treat your helper with respect and dignity

    It’s not easy being alone in a foreign country to work far away from family. Any worker in any industry and any country has the right as well to expect respect and dignity from their employers. So even if you are frustrated by mistakes or annoyed, always take a step back to consider if your behaviour is something you would find acceptable as an employee yourself. Treat others with respect and dignity and they will be incentivised to reciprocate; your domestic helper is no different.

Conflicts and issues may arise in any relationship, and it is essential to address them in a constructive manner. Listening to your helper’s concerns and finding solutions together can help prevent issues from escalating. Likewise, doing your part to understand cultural differences and adapting to them can also help avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

Need additional help? 

Of course, for those of us who have elderly loved ones with niche care needs like wound dressing and home therapy, or chronic conditions like diabetes that need to be managed, additional training for your domestic helper may be required.

In that case, Homage’s fully-trained and friendly caregivers can step in to help provide training to your domestic helper in giving your loved one care. 

Our Homage caregivers can also help tide over your loved ones’ care needs when your domestic helper leaves for home leave or while you transition between domestic helpers. 

Depending on situational needs as well, you can also consider engaging our medical escort services, where our Homage caregivers accompany your loved one to their doctor’s appointments at hospitals and clinics.

Find out more here or reach out to us for a chat at 6100 0055!



  1. Foreign workforce numbers. (n.d.). Ministry of Manpower Singapore. Retrieved April 30, 2023, from
  2. What should a domestic helper’s schedule look like? – Fair Employment Agency Limited. (2017, October 10). Retrieved from
About the Writer
L.H. is a writer who guzzles coffee a little too much for his own good.
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