As more Singaporeans find themselves with less time on their hands, it is becoming common for people to hire professional cleaning help to get their houses professionally cleaned. Some professionals – especially singles or childless couples – find that hiring maid service once or twice per week is enough. However for others, especially those with large families, having a full time domestic helper to help them with cleaning, cooking, shopping, childcare and ironing can be a blessing. Most domestic helpers in Singapore are from Indonesia and the Philippines and they are mostly diligent, conscientious women looking to support their families back at home. Part time helpers are available at an hourly cost and can be hired independently or through a company. On the other hand, full time helpers expect a monthly salary depending on their experience and the size of your household.
There are some things you need to know to get the best home care experience, but there are some things your domestic helper just won’t say. Here are the top 6 things your domestic helper won’t tell you:
1. Most are more about speed than thoroughness
Many housekeepers will just whiz though your property if they are under pressure to get through multiple homes in one day. This may sometimes result in them missing spots, breaking things or generally doing a subpar job. To prevent staff from rushing the job, the best cleaning companies assign small crews of two or more employees to each property, since larger crews are more able to combine speed and thoroughness. The same crews also remain responsible for the property on repeat visit which allows them to get to know you over time, and offer a service that is based on your needs. You can help them by creating a checklist of the task they must complete at each visit.
2. I can work full time, but it is you who will lose
It is easy to succumb to the temptation to slash home care costs by hiring a self-employed helper instead of turning to a large cleaning company. And with individual helpers charging a lot less per hour than what is typically charged by Singapore cleaning companies, the savings can be substantial. However, their cheaper fees may result in the tax man demanding a bigger check. This may include the helper’s social security and Medicare taxes. It may be tempting to avoid all this by paying the house help in cash, but if caught, you could owe the government back taxes and other penalties. When hiring a cleaning service, ensure that it handles it employees’ wage and taxes or that the helpers are independent contractor who handle their own taxes.
3. My injuries will hurt you too
You may be on the hook for medical bills incurred by a domestic helper who gets injured working in your home. While most insurance policies will cover injuries incurred by individuals while in your property, most policies limit coverage for someone who is considered an employee of the household. In many case, you will settling the bills privately easier than filing a claim, but a single incident could leave you spending a lot of money out of pocket.
When hiring a cleaning agency, ask if their helpers carry worker’ compensation insurance, as this is what covers any injuries the helper might suffer while on the job. It is also recommended to enquire if the agency caries general liability insurance which covers any damage a helper might accidentally do to your house.
4. Some of us have gone high tech, but not necessarily more efficient
Web-based online companies have entered the market, promising to help people find domestic helpers by instantly booking pre-vetted workers. These helpers are not employees of the company, but simply sign up and wait to be picked. To be sure, some of the complaints about workers from these web-bases job companies may not differ much from those raised over conventional cleaning services. However, scheduling problems are a lot more common with some Singaporeans saying that it is easy to book appointments with the helpers, but it is quite difficult to confirm scheduling changes or even reach the helper’s representatives on the phone. This is not to mention that their vetting process, training and insurance policies may be questionable.
5. Going green is not easy
Changes in the family such as a baby being born or adding exotic surfaces and finishes that require more care may prompt a household to make the decision to switch to only organic cleaning products. While she may not tell you, an in-house helper may struggle to adjust, sometimes not using enough water with the soap when mopping wooden floors or vice versa, and having to redo the job constantly, thereby taking up more time.
While many helpers are ready and willing to use the organic cleaning products you may provide for their use, some aren’t trained to properly use those products. Professional cleaning companies, on the other hand are constantly adding more green products to the repertoire of cleaning agents while training their workers on the best and quickest ways of using these products to treat exotic home surfaces. Some are even taking tentative steps to becoming more environmentally friendly by carpooling, recycling and even introducing their own lines of green cleaning products.
6. It is harder to clean your house if it is a disorganized mess
Please pick up toys, piles of papers and other clutter from surfaces so that your domestic helper can actually get to them. This is the main reason why cleaning companies charge more for their first visit where the helpers expect to an initial deep cleaning, followed by arranging your things in the right order. After this initial deep cleaning, subsequent visits are more a matter of maintenance than heavy lifting. For instance, the crew might use the first visit to move most of the furniture in order to vacuum underneath while dusting off the ceiling fans; which are tasks that can be done less frequently or alternated in subsequent visits. However, this shouldn’t necessarily be the case if you keep your house in good order, and you can even specify what tasks the cleaners should focus on.