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How to Handle Emergencies With Your Domestic Worker

With more and more Singaporeans hiring maids to settle their home cleaning and other miscellaneous stuff, there are certainly more and more cases of emergencies that happens in a year in Singapore.

In this article we take a look at the type of emergencies that may occur with maids and the things we can do in the event of such incidents.

1. In the event: You have to leave Singapore

There may come a time when you might have to leave Singapore, be it for a vacation or for work purposes. What happens to your domestic worker then? Depending on your needs and duration of stay, rather than simply terminating her employment and sending her home, you may choose to:

Leaving your domestic worker at home

Many employers leave their domestic workers at home during their vacations. Naturally, one may ask if it is indeed safe to leave your domestic worker at home without supervision.

So long as you’ve taken efforts to build a healthy working relationship with her based on trust and communication, there should be little reason to worry about your domestic worker staying at home alone. Simply let her know what you expect her to do and behave when you are away.  At the very most, you may wish to ask that your neighbours periodically check on your house and domestic worker to see if everything is fine.

Lastly, you should ensure that your domestic worker will be able to survive on her own financially.

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Taking your domestic worker overseas

Should you decide that you need your domestic worker to accompany you on your overseas trip, ensure that the proper steps and administrative paperwork are done to allow for your domestic worker to travel.

Regardless of the duration and purpose of your trip, your domestic worker may require special administrative paper work to be filed in order for her to travel even on a tourist visa. Some countries do not issue visas for recently hired domestic workers, and others are generally wary of admitting domestic workers.

Be sure to check with your destination country to verify the necessary procedures, and allow yourself plenty of time to do so. If you intend to bring your domestic worker to work for you in an overseas location, remember that you may well need to apply for a foreign work permit/visa for her for the duration of her stay.

Leaving Singapore for good or a long time

If you will not be requiring the services of your domestic worker because you will be leaving the country permanently or for a long time, you should advise her of your intentions and give her plenty of time to find a new employer, if she so wishes.

You may assist your domestic worker in locating another employer through her original employment agency, or perhaps recommend her to relatives or friends residing in Singapore.

An experienced worker may well be able to find employment without your assistance, but you should talk this over with her.

When the time comes for her to leave you, you will need to sign a letter of release so that she can go to her new employer, and you should cancel her work permit, but only when she is ready to go.

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2. In the event: Your domestic worker decides to go on home leave

Your domestic worker is entitled to go on home leave at the end of each contract period. The standard duration for home leave in the past was 2 weeks. However, some employers feel that 2 weeks might be a little too short. Thus, they extended the duration of home leave for their domestic workers. To maximise convenience, some employers choose to plan their holidays during this period as well.

There may be other times when your domestic worker asks to return to her country outside of her entitled leave. This might be due to compassionate reasons, such as the death of a family member.

Considering the sacrifices your domestic worker has had to make in order for her to be employed here, it is only considerate to be sympathetic to her request for home leave.

The duration of a domestic worker’s home leave should be negotiated between the employer and the worker. However, it is advisable to consider the time needed for travelling and the purpose for the home leave.

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Concerning a domestic worker’s employment paperwork, there are two options for employers to pursue when providing for a home leave:

  1. Not cancelling your domestic worker’s work permit
  2. Cancelling your domestic worker’s work permit.

Other pre-home leave advisories for employers

  1. Be sure that your domestic worker has her work permit card and passport during her travels.
  2. Also note that you should keep a copy of your domestic worker’s travel ticket or itinerary for reference.
  3. Lastly, check with your domestic worker’s embassy on her immigration requirements for home leave, as they may vary across different nationalities

Not cancelling your domestic worker’s work permit

You may choose not to cancel your domestic worker’s work permit during her home leave. The liabilities of your security bond will continue to apply during your domestic worker’s home leave. However you will not be required to apply for a new security bond and insurance guarantee upon her return to Singapore.

Do note that you will also qualify for a waiver of the domestic worker levy for the period of the home leave, when your domestic worker has returned from her home leave. You will have to produce your domestic worker’s passport at the nearest Central Provident Fund Service Centre, or you may do so online here. Choose Application for Waiver of Foreign Worker Levy (Domestic), after you have logged in.

Keep in mind that the waiver is only applicable within a year from when the home leave began.

In the event your domestic worker does not return to Singapore from her home leave, you should cancel her work permit so as to void your liabilities under the security bond. The Controller of Immigration will first have to ensure that your domestic worker has not returned to Singapore prior to your cancellation of her work permit. You will need to produce copies of your domestic worker’s travel ticket or itinerary.

  1. If your worker has not returned prior to cancellation, you will not be held liable for the security bond.
  2. If your worker has returned prior to cancellation, you will have to arrange for her immediate repatriation or your security bond may be forfeited.

Cancelling your domestic worker’s work permit

Some employers choose this so as to avoid being held liable for their domestic worker under the security bond for the duration of the home leave.

This is generally unnecessary, since the basic point of the security bond is to ensure that a worker returns to her own country, and so nothing is likely to happen that could cause an employer to lose the bond once she is abroad.

If you do cancel the work permit, your worker may have problems leaving her own country to come back to you and you will have the bother of paying a new security bond and insurance guarantee.


3. In the event: Your domestic worker goes missing

Misconceptions regarding the forfeiture of security bonds

Many employers hold their workers’ passports and restrict movement beyond the household.

Such employers are often concerned that their domestic worker may flee from the household or country. If that happens, they fear that they will lose their security bond. However in reality, there are very few employers that have lost their security bond in this manner.

Under such circumstances, employers are given up to a month to locate and repatriate their missing domestic workers. This will be done without forfeiting any of the security bond.

In addition, should a missing domestic worker be located within three months of forfeiting the security bond, the employer can appeal to MOM against the forfeiture.

If you are unable to locate and repatriate your absconded domestic worker within three months, note that you will only be forfeiting half of your security bond if you have carried out the following steps:

  1. Filed a missing person’s report with the police.
  2. Notified MOM of your missing domestic worker.


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4. In the event: Your domestic worker becomes pregnant

Should your domestic worker become pregnant, you should notify MOM via an email to

Kindly provide the following information:

  • Name of foreign domestic worker
  • Work Permit number
  • Doctor’s letter/memo confirming the pregnancy and her expected delivery date
  • Citizenship of the domestic worker’s spouse (if applicable)


5. In the event: Your domestic worker dies

You should inform MOM within 12 hours of discovering your worker’s death.

Do the following:

  1. Contact the police
  2. Email the following information to
  • Foreign domestic worker’s name
  • Work Permit number
  • Cause of death (e.g. illness, accident, suicide, murder etc.)
  • Date, time and place of death
  • Employer’s name and contact numbers
  • Death certificate and cremation certificate for work permit cancellation (if the body isto be cremated in Singapore)
  • Death certificate and a copy of the airway bill for work permit cancellation (if the body is to be sent back to home country)


Find reliable maid agencies in Singapore

If you are looking for maid agencies to match your personalised requirements, you can contact SGHomeNeeds for a more quick and fuss-free experience. SGHomeNeeds also offers a list of reliable maid agencies in Singapore in the following areas:

If you have any further questions, you can view our commonly-asked questions hiring maids.

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