Transfer maids were - not too many years ago - regarded as a rather poor choice for employers who looking for a suitable maid for their family. However, the situation has changed somewhat and now many prefer to employ a transfer maid - if they can find one.
What caused this turn-around? Employers prefer transfer maids as they can start working for them in a matter of days, compared to the 10 weeks or more that it takes to acquire a new maid from Indonesia or the Philippines. The agency fees for transfer domestic helpers are considerably reduced to around $700 to $800, compared with more than $2,000 for a new maid.
Often, employers will do all the transfer documentation themselves, saving themselves from paying any transfer fees at all.
Some agents who specialise in these transfer maids told have said that they have seen a 30 per cent to 50 per cent increase in business in the past five months.
Many employers had the impression that in their previous positions, transfer maids must have had problems with their bosses and possibly would have difficulty integrating into the new family. But because the wait for a new maid is now so long, employers feel they don't have much of a choice but to opt for a transfer maid.
Many have been pleased with the outcome.
A friend, who hired a transfer maid four months ago, agreed, noting that with a new maid she would have to start from the very beginning.
"They are fresh out of their village or kampong," she said.
"Although they now have had some very basic training in their home country, it hardly prepares them for the culture shock of living and working with a Singaporean family. Many have very little knowledge about modern kitchen appliances or even living in an apartment."
"Transfer maids, on the other hand, have been working here for at least a year-or-two, if not more, so they require less supervision and training." And they have gotten used to the culture here as well as learned to manage their home-sickness.
"Further more, before employing them it is usually possible to speak to their previous employers, who are usually forthright and honest in their appraisal of their previous maid's performance and character.
One maid from Myanmar, who registered on Find a Nanny
, found an employer who offered to pay her $600 a month - $100 more than the average salary. Her employer also gives her a day off every Sunday.
"I am an experienced domestic helper and speak good English, I was confident I would find an employer on this nanny website
," she said. She has been working in Singapore for four years and wants to keep working here for at least another four.
A few years ago, new maids would arrive in Singapore about one month after they were recruited.
But the whole process has become more drawn-out because of stricter rules that were imposed by the Indonesian and Philippine governments around the end of last year.
Most of the more than 222,500 domestic workers in Singapore are from these two countries.
Officials from Indonesia and the Philippines want to ensure that maids are not paying high recruitment fees and will receive at least the minimum wage imposed by their governments.
The Indonesian government wants its domestic workers to be paid at least $500 a month and recently stated that all Indonesian maids should live-out, rather than with their employers. The Philippine government states that Filipino maids have to be paid at least US$400 (S$540) every month.
Quick to take advantage of this sudden demand, hundreds of would-be transfer maids are making their way to the Far East Shopping Centre and Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road every Sunday, as many transfer maid agencies are located there.
At Find a Nanny, we have noticed a big increase in transfer maids signing-up in the hope of quickly finding a new family to work for.
This is an interesting trend, it is also good for the domestic help industry in general. Employers now are looking for more competency and experience in their helpers and are prepared to pay more in return.
Many transfer maids are at the end of their two-year contracts. They can work for new bosses if their previous employers sign a Ministry of Manpower consent form.