The Cost Of Hiring A Domestic Maid In Malaysia


Able as you are, there will be times when a pair of helping hands is needed – more so if your time and attention has to be devoted to the demanding mistress you call a job.

domestic maid malaysia

Source: Disney

But unless you have family members, friends, or a dray of rodents that are both willing to help you and are experienced in the art of babysitting, cleaning, and cooking, chances are you will look towards hiring domestic help.

According to the latest data from the Malaysian Maid Employers’ Association (Mama), there are more than 250,000 registered domestic workers in Malaysia.

This is lower than the recorded 300,000 registered domestic maids some six or seven years ago, due to the tightening of hiring rules by the local and source countries’ governments in recent years, as well as the high cost of hiring in the country.

The Prime Minister Najib Razak announced in Budget 2018 that in 2018, the hiring of foreign domestic helpers can be done directly from nine selected countries without going through an agent. This was lauded by many parties, especially the middle-class population who are struggling to juggle family and career.

The exorbitant cost of hiring foreign domestic helpers has been an obstacle for many households due to the agency cost, which can come up to RM12,000 to RM18,000 in total.

The cost of hiring a foreign maid through an agency

An October 2017 article published by New Straits Times reported that the cost for a Malaysian to hire a domestic worker through an employment agency is between RM12,000 and RM18,000. However, the official rate fixed by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments was only RM8,000.

The agency fee makes the bulk of the cost, as these agencies supposedly take away the stress of hiring a domestic helper by recruiting, obtaining work visas and training the maids.

The fee of RM8,000 was made up of RM3,000 for management costs and about RM4,800 to ‘buy’ biodata of a prospective maid from Indonesian recruitment agencies. Of the total cost, you, as a prospective employer will pay RM6,000, while the remaining RM1,800 will be borne by the maid via deductions of RM300 from her monthly salary over six months.

As an employer, you are also required to pay a minimum monthly salary of RM900 for an Indonesian maid, with no current laws on maximum monthly salary. The employers can pay as much as they want as long as it’s more than RM900 per month. For a Filipino foreign domestic helper, the minimum monthly salary is set at US$400 a month, which translates to about RM1,600 a month (US$1 = RM4.00317 at the time of writing).

How does the new online maid system work?

Long waiting time is a common problem when hiring a maid through an agency. This is also one of the reasons cost of hiring through an agency has skyrocketed, with many agencies charging extra to expedite the process for desperate employers.

However, with the new direct hiring online maid system, the foreign domestic helpers must already be in the country (Malaysia) on a social visit pass. Even those who have overstayed between January 1 and December 31, 2017, are also eligible to be hired through the system, but with an additional compound charged to the employer. This shortens the process significantly as the prospective workers are already in the country.

The whole process is estimated to take about eight days, provided that all the documents and requirements are completed and fulfilled.

Here are the processes to hire a foreign domestic helper on a valid social visit pass, and also a helper with a social visit pass but has overstayed:

With a valid social visit pass
With a social visit pass,
but has overstayed (Jan 1 – Dec 31. 2017)
Registration (Employer)
Dependent on the employer
Registration (Employer)
Dependent on the employer
Login to the site, register details of employer and the foreign domestic helper
Login to the site, register details of employer and the foreign domestic helper
Pay compound and Special pass at Immigration Department
Medical check-up (FOMEMA)
Medical check-up (FOMEMA)
Upload required documents and submit application
1 day
Upload required documents and submit application
1 day
Check documents
1 day
Check documents
1 day
1 day
1 day
Notification of result
Notification of result
Online payment
1 day
Online payment
1 day
Printing of Visitor’s Pass Sticker
(Temporary Employment)
1 day
Printing of Visitor’s Pass Sticker
(Temporary Employment)
1 day

Total: 5 – 8 days

How much does it cost to directly hire a foreign maid?

If RM14,000 sounds like daylight robbery, perhaps the online maid system is the perfect solution.

According to Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, direct hiring of foreign domestic helper would cost around RM3,600 to RM3,800, which includes levy fees, visit pass (temporary work), visa and processes set according to the respective countries, as well as flight cost.

Here’s how much it costs to have a live-in maid in a year:

Cost of a live-in helper in the first 12 months
Fees to maid agency
Other fees (food, accommodation & miscellaneous)
RM400 x 12 months = RM4,800
Total wage in a year
RM900 x 12 = RM10,800
Total to be paid in the first year

Compared to hiring via an agency, you will save between RM10,800 and RM14,200.

The potential drawbacks of direct hiring

Of course, there are some potential problems in direct hiring, despite the low cost. Although there are also risks involved when you hire through an agency, such as when your maid has absconded, the agency fee will not be refunded. However, there are some agencies that provide 6-month warranty in the event your maid absconded in the first six months.

If you are hiring directly, here are some problems you may face:

1. Difficulty in finding a foreign helper

Unless you have the contact of a potential foreign maid in the country with a social visit pass in the country, it will be quite difficult for an employer to find a potential employee without an agent’s biodata.

This brings us to the next issue.

2. The risk of getting scammed

Many employers will likely contact their previous live-in maid who is now back in their home country. The cost for the maid to fly in to Malaysia will be borne by the employer. However, there have been cases where the potential helper disappearing after receiving money to travel from their village to the city and also after getting the plane ticket.

3. Lack of training

Without an agency as a middle person, all training of the helper will fall on the employer. This does not just include training on the work but also the introduction to a difficult culture, especially for a new worker.

Who can be a foreign domestic helper through direct hiring?

The potential employee must come from one of these nine approved countries• Indonesia
• Thailand
• Cambodia
• The Philippines
• Sri Lanka
• India
• Vietnam
• Laos
• Nepal
The potential employee must fulfil the following criteria

  1. Must be a female 21 years old and above, and not older than 45 years old.

  2. Free from the list of suspects and the blacklist of the Department.

  3. Confirmed fit and healthy by an appointed medical centre.

  4. Does not have an active Temporary Work Permit (PLKS) with other employers.

The potential helper who fails the medical examination will not be permitted to work, and the employer will need to arrange for her immediate repatriation.

Who can be an employer through direct hiring?

StatusCitizen or Permanent Resident of Malaysia
Approved reasons for hiringChild(ren) under 15 years of ageApplicable for married couple and single parent.
Disabled child(ren) of any ageApplicable for married couple and single parent.
Parents who are sick/ill.Applicable for married couple, single parent and single individual.
Employer/Spouse of employer who are sick/illApplicable for married couple.
Immediate family who are sick/ill (i.e. Applicable for married couple, single parent and single individual.
Income eligibility according to source countriesIndonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, VietnamRM3,000.00/month
Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, NepalRM5,000.00/month

For expatriates in Malaysia who wish to hire a foreign domestic maid, they will need to go through an agent.

Who can’t be an employer?

Not everyone can hire a foreign domestic worker, either through the online maid system or even an agent. If you fulfil any of these three criteria below, you will not be eligible to hire a foreign maid:

  • Bankrupts
  • Blacklisted by the Labour Department
  • Have unresolved cases with the Immigration Department of Malaysia

Getting a domestic helper sometimes depends on your preference. The key to having a domestic maid is getting your money’s worth along with the peace of mind that comes with it. Once you have weighed the pros and cons, perhaps spending the extra RM7,760 in a year is still worth the money.

Think you can do yourself? Find out if you can really afford to be a stay-at-home parent!

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