Urgent Warning for Employers of Domestic Helpers, Nannies or Maids

The following article was endorsed for publication by the Consumers Association of Singapore in The Finder magazine (February 2004). If you have read the article, please scroll down further for even more details on this issue not included in the article. This article was later also published in The British Club‘s and The American Club‘s May 2004 newsletter. It also appeared in Expat Living magazine‘s April and May 2004 issues.


Have you ever had bad experiences with maid agencies?

Were you ever matched off with a domestic helper, nanny or amah who couldn’t fit into your family?

What happens to you and your family when the domestic helper doesn’t work out?

Did you lose any money and time dealing with unpleasant domestic helper or agency matters?

Or, you simply have no idea where to get started in getting your ideal domestic helper, nanny or amah?

Have no worries, because here’s… 

How the Consumers Association of Singapore protects you from errant maid agencies

In May 2002, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) deemed it compulsory for all maid agencies to be accredited by June 2004 before their licence can be renewed and to continue business. The purpose is to protect consumers from errant maid agencies and increase the standard of the industry.

Thus, the accreditation scheme (CASETrust) by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) was administered. To qualify, agencies must provide good sales and after-sales service as well as fulfilling other minimum criteria, including business integrity, fair trading practices, quality of staff training and maintenance of retail facilities. A panel of independent assessors certifies agencies and admits members. Such an evaluation process may take between 3 to 6 months. The assessors are also responsible for carrying out regular and unannounced checks on accredited agencies. Another way for agencies to renew their licence is to be accredited by the Association of Employment Agencies, which is a self-governing scheme by the industry itself.

Currently, only 36 or 5% of the over 700 agencies are accredited by CASE for Good Business Practice. And, there are only another 5 months to go before the deadline by MOM is over. Out of the accredited agencies, only a few specialises in assisting expatriates to recruit domestic helpers. That is to say,  more than 95% of their business are with the expatriate community.

Besides having an accreditation by CASE for Good Business Practice, other important factors you may wish to consider when looking for an agency include:

  • whether they have many testimonials from satisfied customers;
  • whether they offer a reasonable guarantee period, and give you a free replacement if the domestic helper doesn’t work out;
  • whether they have a matching system to match the right maid to your family. After all, the skills and character of each girl is different, and so are the needs of each family;
  • whether they have a follow up program where they make sure that you are satisfied with the maid’s and their service. Note that unaccredited agencies may not be able to service you or honour their agreements with you after June 2004;* and
  • whether they share information freely with their customers. For instance, information on the recruitment process, the requirements of MOM, how to get along with your domestic helper, etc

For further details and a FREE electronic book on employing domestic helpers, please visit: Or, you can also call our Customer Care Team at 6733-8121 or 6735-1218 for a FREE consultation.  


*(not in original article) Note that unaccredited agencies may have to leave the industry subsequent to June 2004. This is due to them unwilling or unable to meet the stringent criteria of accreditation which is to protect the domestic helpers and employers. 

Update (wef 1 Apr 2011): In accordance to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower’s EA Rules update: (1) the use of unlicensed employment agencies may lead to a jail term for employers; and (2) accreditation by the Consumers Association of Singapore is not necessary for MOM licensing purposes.

Update (1): We were given to understand that the Ministry of Manpower is giving agencies undergoing accreditation from June 2004 a 1 year provisional licence. Whether they continue in business depends on the success of the accreditation.

Update (2): Agencies can now also be accredited by the Association of Employment Agencies to qualify for the renewal of their licences. As such, the remainder 90% are probably accredited by the Association of Employment Agencies. Currently, 10% of the employment agencies are accredited by the Consumers Association.

How this may Adversely Affect You…

If a customer is uninformed and have engaged the service of an unaccredited agency, the possible impact on her and her family subsequent to June 2004 may be as follows:

  • If she is unhappy with her domestic helper, unaccredited agencies will not be around to help her on the matter or to counsel the helper;

  • If she has been given a guarantee, unaccredited agencies would not be able to honour their guarantee;

  • Further, the customer would have to go to an accredited agency and spend more money and waste more time to find another domestic helper;

  • The customer and her family will be greatly inconvenienced during the period when they are busy looking for another domestic helper. She would have to handle all the household chores and take care of the kids at the same time;

  • There will not be any after sales service, and she would have no one to turn to for help on any domestic helper issues. After all, they have left the industry;

  • Unaccredited agencies would not be able to fulfill their agreements or contracts with her.

  • Unaccredited agencies do not bear the Trust Mark of the Consumers Association of Singapore, which signifies a trustworthy business;

  • In short, the customer and her family would be greatly inconvenienced, and their family life would be greatly affected.

Your best protection is to only engage the service of an accredited agency who specialises in assisting the expatriate community on domestic helpers issues. So, please ask the agencies whom you are engaging whether they are accredited before you engage them. If you have an existing agency servicing you, you may wish to confirm with them that they are willing and able to meet the accreditation criteria.

Note that only 78 of 700 over agencies are accredited currently (as at June 2005), and only a few specialises in assisting the expatriate community.We would like to let you know that…

121 Personnel Services is accredited by the Consumers Association of Singapore for Good Business Practices (CASETrust), Certificate No. CT/0001. Please click here to see our certificate. Therefore, we will still be at your service and honour our agreements with you after June 2004. 


You may also wish to read the “Speech on 30 October 2002 By Dr Ng Eng Hen Minister Of State (Education And Manpower) At The Awards Ceremony For The Casetrust Accreditation Scheme” at the Ministry of Manpower Website: Please click here.