My domestic helper from Philippines was due for her home leave after completing her two years of service here in Singapore. After much deliberation, we decided to renew her contract for another two years. I called my agent and was informed that I would have to pay about $1,400 for the renewal, including her airfare home, insurance and processing fee for all the documentation.

I decided then to give it a shot to renew the contract by myself since my agent told me I was free to DIY if I was confident about the procedures. In case you think that’s impossible, it actually isn’t although it was quite frustrating process dealing with the Philippines Embassy. Nonetheless I spent less than $800 so I guess the inconvenience was worth it.

The steps listed are in no order of preference. But you’d need to have completed steps 1, 3, 4 and 5 before heading to the Philippines Embassy to apply for the OEC.

Step 1: Go to Philippines Embassy website to read about the requirements to apply for an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and print out the following forms –

  1. Employment Contract for Household Service Worker (Direct)
  2. Undertaking of Employer for Employment of HSW
  3. OWWA Information Sheet
  4. OFW Information Sheet (OEC)
  5. Pag – IBIG Membership Registration Form

Fill and sign all the forms. For Filipino domestic helpers, their government since 2010 require that they apply for an OEC as proof of employment before they are allowed to leave the country. This is crucial otherwise your helper cannot come back after their home leave.

Step 2: Type out an employment contract detailing her work arrangements, revised salary, day offs, home leave, termination clauses etc. since the old one is no longer valid. What I did was to mirror the contract from my agency and just changed the details accordingly. Have your helper sign these as well, making sure she is aware of what she is agreeing to to prevent future conflicts.

According to the maid agencies I approached, I was told that it was acceptable for the contract details to be different from those stated under the Standard Employment Contract issued by Philippines authorities (e.g. minimum pay of $600 per month with 1 off day per week). This contract is solely between you and your helper. You do not need to submit this contract to apply for the OEC.

Step 3: Book a return ticket back to domestic helper’s home town. The cheapest fares are usually offered by Cebu Pacific which is a budget airline. I was however able to get a good rate for a commercial airline called Philippines Express for $298 with free 20kg luggage. Look out for maid fares but they tend to be snapped up much faster during school holidays. Print out the travel itinerary for OEC application.

Step 4: Apply for maid insurance through one of the many insurers that offer them (e.g. AXA, NTUC Income). For Filipino helpers, the minimum requirement is a $10,000 Medical Insurance, $5,000 security bond and most importantly a $7,000 Performance Bond. I paid about $333 for my plan with NTUC Income. You’d need physical copies of the medical insurance and $7,000 Performance Bond for OEC application.

Step 5: Renew Work Permit with Ministry of Manpower. Thankfully with technology, you can now renew it online for $20 after some inputs on domestic helper details, revised salary, contract period and confirmation of an appropriate maid insurance plus security bond. Your insurer will forward this information to MOM directly upon confirmation of the cover under Step 4.

Step 6: Collect new work permit. Within a week or two of application, you should receive a letter from MOM informing you that you can come by their Work Permit Division in Tanjong Pagar Complex to collect the new work permit. You need to bring the old work permit, passport and work permit renewal letter duly completed and signed by your domestic helper to collect the work permit. You’d need either the new work permit or a copy of the letter to apply for the OEC. Make photocopies of the new work permit, passport and your NRIC. The photocopier services at the embassy is out to make a buck off you.

Step 7: Go to Philippines Embassy located at 20 Nassim Road to apply for the OEC with all the relevant documents signed and ready. The process itself is really even more complicated than all the steps above combined! Do take note of the opening days and time and that there is no parking at the embassy. We almost got a summon for illegal parking outside the compound. I shall do my best to recount my experience.

  1. At the guard house, obtain a queue number for document verification
  2. Have your documents (Form 1 and 2 above), insurance, photocopies of Work Permit, Passport and Employer NRIC authenticated and verified.
  3. Make payment of $62.50 in cash ONLY for authentication and verification at the cashier counter (counter is closed at lunch time so time your application wisely)
  4. Return to counter with receipt of payment. Officer will give you a slip of paper confirming the acceptance of your documents and application. You’d need to return a week later to get the notarised certificate.
  5. Approach the OWWA counter to submit Form 3 together with Passport and payment of $42 in cash ONLY for membership fees. Wait about 15 minutes for application to be completed on the spot. Officer will staple receipt on the helper’s passport. This has to be kept there for proof of membership.
  6. Head back to guard house to obtain a queue number for OEC application. You cannot get this number earlier unless you already completed authentication/verification process. Show slip as proof. As there is a perpetual queue, the queue numbers are given out during a window period of 1 – 1.30pm for the PM session. But I guess even if you miss it, you can still somehow wriggle your way through the haphazard queue system.
  7. Head to OEC counter to submit Form 4 and 5, receipt of OWWA membership, travel itinerary, new work permit and payment of $5.50 for the OEC and $5.50 for Pag – IBIG (local insurance). You’d also need to show slip of paper as proof that documents have been verified/authenticated. You’d be be issued with a coupon like OEC on the spot. All the elaborate processes above just to get your OEC…
  8. Return a week later to collect your notarised Certificate.

Step 8: Make sure your helper has the OEC with her when she goes for her home leave otherwise she cannot leave her country to return back to Singapore.

Welcome your domestic helper with wide open arms after two weeks without her. However if you made the effort to bond with your children during this period of time, you’d somehow realise that your helpers don’t make great parents of your children. There is no substitute for you.