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Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

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Zeba
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Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby Zeba » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 12:49 am

Hi Everyone
We are moving to Singapore soon and one of the Filipino candidates we are interested in hiring as our nanny has requested a food allowance and a return ticket home at the end of each year of service. Could anyone please advise what a reasonable food allowance would be? Also, how much would a return ticket to the Philippines cost? Finally, is it customary to pay an annual bonus?
Many thanks in advance,
Z

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ecureilx
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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 3:13 am

Zeba wrote:Hi Everyone
We are moving to Singapore soon and one of the Filipino candidates we are interested in hiring as our nanny has requested a food allowance and a return ticket home at the end of each year of service. Could anyone please advise what a reasonable food allowance would be? Also, how much would a return ticket to the Philippines cost? Finally, is it customary to pay an annual bonus?
Many thanks in advance,
Z


You may take a look at the standard FDW contract, which spells out the dos and don'ts. Will PM you as I can't find the Embassy Link for it.

FYI, I don't know about this 'food allowance' thing, as you are expected to provide 3 meals a day. That's the law.

Now how much is the meal allowance thing ? 10 $ a day ? or 20 $ a day ? or 30 $ a day ?

If you have maid who starts placing such demands you are in for some trouble. Because, 3 meals a day can be had for 10 $ or 20 $ or 30 $.

A real silly story: I had a boss who used to travel a lot, and he used to give his maid a monthly food allowance, about 600 $, and that's on top of his keeping the large fridge, separate freezer, and well stocked dry rations, and all from Jason's Super Market.

And by the middle of the month, the maid had started asking the neighbours for food and such, and one of the neighbour threatened to call the cops unless the employer starts doing something about it. It was very embarrassing for the employer to have been accused of not taking care of the maid.

Turns out, she remitted as much money as soon as she got and didn't figure out how to live the rest of the month, and after surviving a while on the stocked food, she ran out of choices, and started asking the neighbours for loans.

So then onward, the boss decided to get somebody to give her weekly allowance for food, when he is not in town.

Back to return ticket. Tickets to Philippines can go from 175$ (including 30 KG luggage and meals) all the way to $ 1,500, still the same economy, based on season. So if she decided to fly back during the Holy week or Christmas, good luck.

And in any case, unless she transfers out, you have a responsibility to send her back. So unless she plans to cash the ticket and do a runner, just promise to get the return ticket, no cash in lieu. If she transfers out, you can offer a fixed sum of 300 $, which is more than enough to fly back home, wherever in Philippines it is.

Bonus, extra allowance for public holiday, or seasonal gifts-those are not expected and put in black and white.

My 2 cents will say, if you have a maid asking about it, then you better be a bit careful. If it becomes a demand, say it's a 1 month at end of completion of contract and that's it. Which is not customary, and whatever you pay on top of it, well, that should be at your discretion.

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x9200
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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby x9200 » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 7:24 am

I agree with ecureilx. Weird she didn't ask for accommodation allowance too - this actually would be logical and consequent. As I see it, the ticket can be seen as a bonus, so can be seen some extra days off, but as she is going to be still paid as per normal, and nobody kicks her out from the employer's house and from the table, there is no need to pay any allowance just because she decided to travel for her completely private reasons.

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 7:36 am

And I disagree with the posters above. Essentially you are being asked if you will contribute to her food preferences rather than her eating what she prepares for you. My PH maid was that way.

Since you are required to provide meals for her, ask her what she means. Does she expect something over and above the 3 meals of rahmen noodles that far too many Chinese locals consider as decent fodder?

If she's asking you to set a food budget for her, ask what she thinks is reasonable. Ask if this food budget is so that she eats different foods than you, so that your food budget is reduced.

I didn't read into the OP's post that the maid wanted cash in hand, I read that she wants a budget for her food, partly to ensure that she's not stuck eating rahmen noodles morning, noon, and night. Given the maid abuse that is close to rampant in Singapore, it seems quite reasonable for her to ask if you are going to feed her adequately.

You've got to buy food for her... what's wrong in establishing expectations of what she gets to eat... more than rahmen noodles... less than lobster thermidor every night. If you have concerns, insist that her food be bought at the same time as yours, ie, no cash allowance but part of the total food ticket... our maid did all the shopping.

As for airplane, I think that's a requirement... once a year annual home visit flight. And if it's not, do it anyway... it makes for a great relationship.

Bottom line... if you're trying to cheap it out, don't get a maid.

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby x9200 » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 8:18 am

OP, could you please clarify whether the food allowance is for her travelling of for her job time under your roof.

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby Zeba » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 1:40 pm

Thanks, everyone! Really appreciate the inputs. I've heard horror stories about some helpers, so, I understand where ecureilx and x9200 are coming from. The person I was referring to has worked for us in another country in the past, so, I know for a fact that she is a decent human being, one of the reasons that I offered her a position in Singapore. She has not lived there before. She did share family meals with us in the past, but we had a part-time cook and it was no problem. I think she is also a bit embarrassed about the fact that I will now do the cooking (she can't cook very well and can barely manage some basic Filipino dishes) and so, offered to cook her own meals. Plus she really may prefer to eat her own food, as Strong Eagle suggests. X9200, the food allowance I was referring to would be for her job time plus when we are travelling (i.e., a fixed monthly allowance). She mentioned that one of her friends earns an all-inclusive salary of SGD 1000, so, I also wonder if that is what she's after? I have no idea if that's a good or bad deal.
Thank you all for the info and advice on air-tickets. I had no idea that prices varied that much!

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby Zeba » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 1:42 pm

P.S. We would never expect her to eat instant noodles. We don't eat it ourselves and wouldn't want our helper or anyone else to live on food that is a health hazard.

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Re: RE: Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 4:34 pm

Zeba wrote:She mentioned that one of her friends earns an all-inclusive salary of SGD 1000, so, I also wonder if that is what she's after? I have no idea if that's a good or bad deal.


:) if you can afford it .... why not ?

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby x9200 » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 4:56 pm

If this is for her normal daily food then I guess it is ok providing:
a) she doesn't take your food
b) there is no problem with her cooking for herself (i.e. "competing" with you who should use the kitchen and when).
I would calculate the allowance based on what you expect to spend per single adult of your family for regular meals.

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 9:54 pm

To be fair, a minority of employers do employ a maid, and then try to make her live on a shoe string budget. Hence the Ramen for life - comments :) Yes, employers like that are not abnormal in Singapore, though of late the Govt and the NGOs have been stepping up education and catching such employers. And despite SE says, maid abuse is on the wane, with more than a few NGOs, and a lot of education of maids, plus internet/information, such cases get reported and acted upon very fast. And where the law stays clear, the NGOs have taken matters into their own hands, and stopped forceful repatriation, got a few employers behind bars for not feeding their maids properly, and a few more for keeping their maids as virtual slaves.

Now, Strong Eagle is the kind of employer everybody wants to work for, including possibly room with private entrance, no work after 9 PM, so she can go and do other things .. but, if you can do all that and more, go ahead :)

I don't ask people to be kiasu, after all, it's your helper and your choice.

PS, the guy who almost got into trouble with the maid who was sending home every $ ? She was practically living on Instant Noodles, and it wasn't the employer's fault.

You have to see and learn how money smart your nanny is, as time goes.

Good luck !!!

PS, I believe, one of the key to getting a good nanny is working with an agency who is not money minded. I know a few friends in the agency line, and more often I have seen then refuse to entertain maids - currently under a different agency - who want a transfer through their agency. And the answer is something like "the girl looks like trouble" or "I don't have the good vibe about her .. " etc. Yes, there are people who give up business than invite trouble.

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 10:56 pm

ecureilx wrote:Now, Strong Eagle is the kind of employer everybody wants to work for, including possibly room with private entrance, no work after 9 PM, so she can go and do other things .. but, if you can do all that and more, go ahead :)


8-) When we first moved into our semi-D, the maid's room off the kitchen (no, not a bomb shelter) did not have aircon. We called a contractor to get it installed. He was incredulous... "How come you put air con for maid? She's just a maid!"

And I guess she did have a private entrance through the back door into the kitchen.

As far as salary to pay: It's part and parcel of total compensation. More if the maid has many years of experience and can do many things, including cooking... our maid was great... could cook from many different cook books, kept the house very clean, handled ironing. She got every Sunday off, every Thursday evening for church, quite often Tuesday evenings, and home twice a year to see her son... so she didn't get $1000 but much more than the required minimum.

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 08 Jul 2016 11:07 pm

Strong Eagle wrote: 8-) When we first moved into our semi-D, the maid's room off the kitchen (no, not a bomb shelter) did not have aircon. We called a contractor to get it installed. He was incredulous... "How come you put air con for maid? She's just a maid!"


I could never stand more than a few minutes in the Bomb Shelter, I wonder how people can put their maid there, with just a fan. Heck, during the housing crunch, a lot of landlords were openly advertising the bomb shelter as a spare room. :P

Strong Eagle wrote:As far as salary to pay: It's part and parcel of total compensation. More if the maid has many years of experience and can do many things, including cooking... our maid was great... could cook from many different cook books, kept the house very clean, handled ironing. She got every Sunday off, every Thursday evening for church, quite often Tuesday evenings, and home twice a year to see her son... so she didn't get $1000 but much more than the required minimum.


The minimum for Filipino maids now is 650 $, and adding in the compulsory off or cash in lieu etc, S$ 1,000 does not seem too high nowadays. Though it is very dear for those working off a shoe string budget, who, in my opinion, probably should not get a maid-

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby x9200 » Sat, 09 Jul 2016 8:16 am

Maids are employees hired to do the job. How much a maid is paid above the legal minimum should depend on what employee she is. If working good, reliable, honest, with right attitude, I would have no problem to pay her $1k or more (+ the usual "benefits", food etc). It doesn't mean I would pay her this right from the start without knowing her a bit better.

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Re: Food allowance and travel costs for our nanny?

Postby Zeba » Sun, 10 Jul 2016 1:03 pm

All of it very enlightening - thank you! I gather SGD 1000 is on the high side. X9200, I wasn't thinking of paying that plus paying for food as I cannot afford it and it doesn't appear to be the norm anyway, although, yes, she is completely honest, a sensible sort and an excellent nanny (no cook though). When she worked for us, she did get Sundays off (so, the 'in lieu of' compensation would be in addition to her salary) and she finished at 8.30 pm (but didn't like to rest in the afternoons, so, that time was good enough for us). Her salary was the equivalent of SGD 780 (plus lunch and dinner on all working days, an annual bonus and overtime payment for working beyond 8.30 pm), but she chose to live with her sister even though we offered her a room in the house that we didn't use. Now, I'll have to look for a place with a separate room for her plus pay the govt levy of course. So, paying around the 750 mark will be a more expensive proposition now. Everything considered, I think I'll go with the suggestion of paying for groceries rather than paying an allowance. Thanks for your inputs.


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