Part-time home-cleaning scheme set to be permanent

With 76 firms on board now, it will also offer services like grocery shopping, car washing

A scheme that allows households to engage part-time household services such as home cleaning will be made permanent on Sept 1, following feedback and increased demand for such services, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday.

The Household Services Scheme (HSS) started as a pilot in 2017 with 15 participating companies, but has been expanded with 76 companies currently on board.

The companies provide household cleaning services to more than 10,000 homes. Besides home cleaning, workers will be allowed to provide services such as grocery shopping, car washing and pet-sitting.

"The increased participation numbers, as well as feedback from the companies and their customers, have shown that the scheme is useful in supporting the demand for part-time household services," said MOM.

Those who wish to engage part-time household services may consider engaging companies approved under the scheme, it added.

MOM said it will continue to monitor demand from households and assess if the scope of services can be further expanded in the future.

Unlike foreign domestic helpers who live with their employers, these workers from HSS firms can be deployed to multiple houses on a part-time basis to provide household services.

The workers live in accommodation provided by their companies.

HSS firms are currently allowed to hire female workers from India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. These are in addition to the existing approved countries in the service sectors which include China and Malaysia, and other Asian sources such as Taiwan and South Korea.

The companies may also be eligible for an additional work permit quota to hire more workers, depending on their headcount and employee composition.

From Sept 1, companies will be allowed to hire female workers from Cambodia, which would enable firms to diversify recruitment efforts to augment their workforce, said MOM.

Clean Lab business development and human resource manager Kelvin Chang said the demand for home-cleaning services has gone up, particularly in recent weeks as more people are allowed to return to their offices to work. He said his firm employs around 40 cleaners, with more than half of them locals in their 50s. The rest are from India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

They clean about 30 houses on average each week and customers pay about $25 to $35 an hour, depending on the frequency of the visits.

Mr Chang said there have been requests for grocery shopping and the firm is planning to offer this service, as well as car washing and dog-walking services in future.

"We plan to train a pool of workers who will specialise in grocery shopping because home owners may have certain expectations when it comes to fresh produce so we have to prepare for that," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2021, with the headline 'Part-time home-cleaning scheme set to be permanent'. Subscribe