16 Things to Know Before Signing an Agency Contract

By Anglo Caregivers
We help you find your right caregiver.
By Anglo Caregivers
We help you find your right caregiver.
Download a copy of our resource(s) for your use.
Checklist of Documents
The following tool is available to help you.
16 Things to Know Before Signing an Agency Contract

About Anglo Caregivers

Our agency specialises in helping families find caregivers and trained maids to live in and take care of their elderly or disabled loved ones.

After going through rounds of interviews, you have finally settled on a live-in caregiver you would like to hire for your parent. Before signing a contract with an employment agency, read our guide on 14 key things to note.

1. Check your employment agency’s track record

You can check for your employment agency’s track record in the MOM EA Directory here. You can look out for:

  1. Check if your agency is under Revocation/Suspension/Surveillance.
  2. Total number of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) the EA placed in the previous year.
  3. Customer ratings including clear fee structure, good FDW match and recommend to a friend

Note: If your employment agency specialises only in placing caregivers as opposed to placing general domestic helpers, indicators like ‘retention rate’ and ‘transfer rate’ may or may not be an accurate representation of the agency performance. It is common for caregivers to be transferred as caregiver services are no longer required such as when the elderly care recipient may have recovered fully or passed on within the year.

2. Check caregiver's employment history

Your agency is required to obtain your caregiver’s employment history from MOM and furnish you with the employment history of the caregiver.

You may also verify a caregiver’s employment history in Singapore through WP Online using a SingPass. Once you have logged in under the left panel, ’WPOL Menu’, click on ‘Enquire’. In the dropdown box, select ‘Foreign Worker / Foreign Domestic Worker Employment History’.

There are three ways to check the employment history in Singapore:

  1. Caregiver’s Work Permit (WP) Number; or
  2. Caregiver’s Foreign Identification Number (FIN); or
  3. Caregiver’s Name, Date of Birth, Sex and Nationality/Citizenship as indicated in the passport. Passport number is optional

If your caregiver has worked in Singapore previously, you would be able to retrieve her record and download it in pdf format. If she has never worked in Singapore, ‘worker’s record not found’ would be indicated.

It is a good practice to check and verify a caregiver’s records even in cases where her biodata stated that she has never worked in Singapore previously.

Service agreement between you (employer) and your employment agency

While signing the service agreement with your employment agency, there are some key terms that you should be aware about.

3. Clear breakdown of all fees involved

From 2014 - 2016, 72% of complaints addressed by the AEA(S) Mediation Centre are with about service fees (also know as agency fees) and placement fees.

Source: AEA(S)

4. Service fees and administrative fees (fees paid to your agency)

There should be a clear schedule providing the breakdown of service fee and administrative fee in the service agreement you sign with your agency.  

The service fee is a lump sum that is charged to you, the employer, by your agency for their recruitment and placement services.

The administrative fee is a breakdown of all the processing fees involved. This would include the standard MOM processing fees like work permit application fee and issuance fee. Typically, the services and administrative fee would include the following items:

Administrative fees ($)
MOM FDW work permit application fee Mandatory 35.00
MOM FDW work permit issuance fee Mandatory 35.00
Settling-In-Programme (SIP) for first-timers Mandatory 75.00
Medical examination fee Mandatory varies
Premium for the security bond, medical and personal accident insurance Mandatory varies
Reimbursement of Indemnity Policy varies
Documentation and processing fee varies
Counselling service at agency’s premise or employer’s residence varies
Embassy-related processing fees varies
Cost for replacement caregiver within replacement period varies
Other services varies

Back to top ▲

5. Placement fee charged to your caregiver

The placement fee is a fee charged to the caregiver. It comprises of two portions:

  1. A fee charged to the caregiver by Singapore employment agency. Under the current regulations, your agency in Singapore is only allowed to collect no more than 1 month of a worker’s fixed-monthly salary for each year of service, capped at 2 months’ salary.
  2. Fees incurred by the caregiver abroad including administrative costs, training expenses, accommodation, transportation and placement fees to caregiver’s home country agents in the form of loan.

The current practice is for employers to pay this placement fee upfront to your agency on behalf of your caregiver as a personal loan to her.  

Employers would then deduct directly from the caregiver’s salary every month as repayment of the loan.

For new domestic helpers, the loan may range from 4 to 8 months of their salaries. For live-in caregivers, the loan is usually shorter, up to 4 months of their salaries. The loan ranges widely according to the employment agency.

Disputes often arise when there is a premature termination before the full repayment of the loan. This could be that the caregiver decides to leave or you, as the employer, do not wish to employ her anymore. A long payback period increases your risk of not getting back your money fully in the event your caregiver leaves prematurely.

It is important to find out from your agency on the procedure to follow when this situation arises so you can get back your loan.

Typically, an agency would require the employer to bring the caregiver back to the agency and allow her to be transferred to a new employer. The remaining loan would then be taken on by her new employer. The agency would then facilitate the refund of the remaining loan to the employer.

6. No hidden fees clause

Typically, there is a clause in the service agreement that states that there are no hidden costs or expenses that the employer should be liable for except those stated in the agreement. This is within the recommended service agreement by the MOM. This clause is usually found within the section relating to fees payment.

7. Replacement conditions

Under MOM Employment Agency license conditions, your agency is required to advise you clearly on replacement of your caregiver and refund of fees under different circumstances.

In the service agreement, there are typically two scenarios where you are eligible for the replacement of caregiver.

  1. Replacement of FDW before FDW is placed to employer
  2. Replacement of FDW after FDW is handed over to employer

(i) Replacement of caregiver before caregiver is placed to employer

If a caregiver is unable to be placed to the employer, typically, the agency would provide the employer with a replacement FDW at no additional cost and would not count towards the employer’s entitlement for a replacement caregiver after she is handed over to employer.

In this scenario, usually employers can also choose not to accept the replacement caregiver and opt for a full refund. The replacement and refund in such scenario are subjected to the terms and conditions in the service agreement with your agency.

It varies from agency to agency. Hence, it is important for you to read through and understand clearly.

(ii) Replacement of caregiver after caregiver is handed over to employer

After the caregiver has been handed over to you, there is also an option for a replacement caregiver. Here are 5 key things that you should note with regards to replacement conditions in this scenario:

  • Number of replacement caregivers
  • Replacement period
  • Cost for replacement caregiver
  • Type of replacement caregiver
  • Other conditions to be eligible for replacement caregiver

(a)  Number of replacement caregivers

Different agencies allow for different numbers of replacements should you decide to replace your caregiver. Usually, there would at least be 1 replacement caregiver.

(b) Replacement period

Replacement caregivers are only allowed within the replacement period. Different employment agencies have replacement period of different lengths.

The replacement period will start after the caregiver has worked for you for a certain number of days. The replacement period typically ranges from 3 to 6 months from the first day your caregiver starts working with you.

If you go past the replacement period without confirming with the employment agency that you want a replacement, you will no longer be eligible for a replacement caregiver.

(c) Cost for replacement caregiver

There are usually additional costs involved for to get a replacement caregiver.

These are usually the administrative costs to process a caregiver including the MOM work permit application fees, issuance fees, medical examination and SIP for the replacement caregivers.

Your agency may or may not charge you additional service fees for the replacement. There is also typically a new placement fee for the new replacement caregiver.

Your agency should provide you with a ‘services and fee schedule for replacement caregiver’ in your service agreement which states a full breakdown of the replacement costs.

(d) Type of replacement caregiver

Some agencies have conditions that specify the replacement caregiver to be of the same nationality, language, caregiving qualification or years of experience. It is good to clarify with your agency what is the criteria of the replacement caregiver that your agency would provide you with if such scenario arises.

(e) Other conditions to be eligible for replacement caregiver

Generally, the agency would require the employer to allow the current caregiver to have the opportunity to attend interviews and be transferred to a new employer for a number of days as part of the condition for replacement caregiver.

This period is usually up to 21 days, depending on the service agreement.

Beyond this period, the employer is able to repatriate the caregiver and cancel her work permit.

8. Refund conditions

Your agency would typically define the amount of refund for service fee, administrative fees and placement fees in each of the 3 scenarios:

  1. If caregiver has not been placed with employer
  2. If caregiver has been placed with employer and she can be transferred
  3. If caregiver has been placed with employer and she cannot be transferred

Different agencies have different refund schedules.

It is key to be clear of how much refund you are entitled to before your caregiver leaves her home country to come to Singapore, and how much refund you are entitled to after your caregiver is already in Singapore but before joining the employer.

This will allow you to know, in the event a caregiver is no longer required before she arrives or joins the family, how much refund you will be entitled to. This may of key importance to you if your care recipient is in critical or unstable condition or at advanced stage of the medical condition.

Refund of outstanding placement fee is also a common issue for dispute. This is especially so for premature termination.

It is important to find out from your agency on how much of the outstanding placement fee would be refunded if your caregiver can or cannot be transferred.

9. Estimated time before caregiver starts work with you

There should be a maximum period from the date of signing the agency agreement before which the employment agency is obligated to complete the processing of the caregiver and have the caregiver join the employer.

This is so that the agency will not be able to delay indefinitely, and this will give the employer the option of obtaining a refund to look for a caregiver from another employment agency should the caregiver not join the employer within the stated period.

Employment contract

The employment contract is an agreement between you, the employer, and your caregiver. It sets out terms and conditions of employment such as salary, job scope and termination procedure.

10. Termination clause

Termination clause is especially important, in the event, you or your caregiver decides to terminate the employment.

Based on MOM statistics, two in three maids do not complete their two-year contracts, with 250 employers changing maids five or more times within a year in 2018.

There should be a termination clause in each employment contract with the caregiver. It normally ranges between 7 days to 1 month. Either party, the employer or caregiver, who would like to terminate the employment contract, will have to give the caregiver the stated period of notice, or pay in lieu of notice.

Knowing how long the notice period is allows you to estimate how much time you have to look for a replacement caregiver in the event of premature termination.

11. Job scope

The caregiver’s job scope should be stated clearly in the employment contract. This helps to prevent any misunderstanding between you and your caregiver.

It is advisable to include the following details:

Job detail Why is it important?
Height and weight of care recipient
  • This helps to communicate the physique of the care recipient clearly to your caregiver.
  • Your caregiver has to be comfortable and agree in managing the care recipient’s build.
  • This important in preventing falls in elderly as well as being able to transfer or positioning a disabled care recipient independently and safely.
Mobility status of care recipient
  • Managing the care of an ambulatory 75kg elderly is different from managing the care of a wheelchair-bound 75kg elderly.
  • Your caregiver needs to know if she is required to help the elderly walk and prevent fall.
  • Or if she is required to transfer the elderly from bed to wheelchair and vice-versa multiple times each day.
  • She needs to be comfortable and confident in performing the care.
Medical condition of care recipient
  • Stating the care recipient’s medical condition clearly helps your caregiver understand the care required.
  • This is especially important in the case of a care recipient with dementia, diagnose or suspected.
Physical care needs
  • The types of activities of daily living like showering and toileting that the elderly requires care for should be stated in the job scope.
Any special care required
  • Most caregivers are trained in assisting with activities of daily living.
  • If the elderly requires more specialised care, for example, trachea suctioning and nasogastric tube feeding, it should be included in the job scope.
  • The caregiver needs to have the requisite experience in the specialised care required or be willing, not afraid of being trained by nurses after she joins the family.
Other domestic chores (if applicable)
  • This is to be individually agreed with your caregiver through your employment agency.
  • Some caregivers focus solely on the care recipient, only assisting with chores for the care recipient such as cleaning, cooking or washing.
  • Some caregivers might be willing to help out with some chores for the family.
  • This needs to be clearly laid out to prevent any misunderstandings.

Back to top ▲

12. Salary

Ensure that the basic salary is clearly stated within the contract and matches what you had agree upon. Salary should be stated as 'basic salary' which excludes the pay for work on rest days.

13. Number of rest days per month

Your caregiver is entitled to a weekly rest day. It is common for the employers to request for their live-in caregivers to work on her rest days with compensation in lieu.

To ensure clarity, the number of rest days should be mutually agreed upon with the caregiver prior at the time of contract signing. The agreed number of rest days per month should be written clearly in the employment contract.

14. Accommodation

It is typical for caregivers to share the same room as the care recipient. This is so that they may assist the care recipient in toileting or other requirements at night.

You would need to provide the FDW with suitable accommodation in accordance with MOM's guidelines, with a reasonable amount of privacy.

It is important to state the accommodation arrangements clearly within the employment contract. If you have special arrangements, your caregiver needs to agree to it.

15. Port of repatriation

Know the port of repatriation that you have to send the caregiver back to.

As employers bear the cost of repatriating the caregiver regardless of completion of contract or early termination, it is good to know where you are contractually obligated to send her back to.

16. Placement fee repayment schedule

The amount of loan and placement fee repayment schedule should be clearly stated in the employment contract that you sign.

The placement schedule repayment schedule states how much you can deduct from your caregiver’s monthly salary to repay you.

The arrangement for repayment varies across agencies. Some may state to deduct the full basic salary until the repayment is completed while others may state a lesser amount of deduction.

Having a clear repayment schedule in the employment contract helps prevent any potential disputes between you and your caregiver.

Pro Tip!

When signing contract for a caregiver, it is advisable for you to be clear and upfront with your caregiver on the care required, the situation at home and any other special requirements.

For example, if your loved one dementia has sundown syndrome and sleeps in the day instead of at night, it is crucial to let your caregiver know that she would need follow the sleep patterns of the care recipient, taking care of her at night and resting in the day.

Your caregiver needs to be notified and she is agreeable to taking on this job. This prevents any surprises as both you and your caregiver will know what you are in for. This also helps to protect both you and your caregiver.

Back to top ▲

Checklist: Essential documents when hiring a caregiver from an agency

We have prepared a list of essential documents that you would have at the time of signing a contract for a live-in caregiver with an employment agency. You should receive a copy of any form or document that you have signed.

Checklist of documents at time of contract signing
  • Service agreement between Employer and Employment Agency with
    • Services and fee schedule
    • Services and fee schedule for replacement caregiver
    • Replacement conditions
    • Refund conditions
  • Employment contract between Employer and Caregiver with
    • Salary
    • Rest day agreement
    • Accommodation arrangement
    • Job description
    • Port of repatriation
    • Placement fee repayment schedule
  • Biodata of Caregiver with
    • Employment History of Caregiver in Singapore
  • MOM form for Application for a foreign domestic helper work permit
  • MOM Authorisation Form for Foreign Domestic Worker Work Pass Transactions
  • MOM Safety Agreement Form between employer and caregiver
  • FDW Insurance Application Form
  • GIRO form for Domestic Foreign Worker Levy
  • Itemised receipts for any form of payments

Back to top ▲

Download a copy of our resource for your use.
Checklist of Documents
The following tool is available to help you.

Related Guides

Anglo Caregivers Employer's Guide to Caregiver Hiring

About Anglo Caregivers

Our agency specialises in helping families find experienced or certified caregivers to live in and take care of their elderly or disabled loved ones.


No items found.
Originally published
June 4, 2020
July 25, 2022 2:17 PM

More Guides

Click for Biodata

Find Available Anglo Caregivers Here
Back to top