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Wages of Domestic Help/Babysitters

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Wages of Domestic Help/Babysitters

By Dan on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 1:24 pm:

I wonder if anyone knows the "going rate" to pay a teenager for babysitting in Japan. Thanks.

By Cornelia on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 2:38 pm:

Dear Dan,

I posted a lengthy bit on this subject at:
on Nov 20, 2000. It's still there. In the meantime, I heard of one girl who was paid 800 yen an hour for 3 hours for a 2 year old (she is 13). She was exhausted because 2 year olds are pretty high maintainance, and I'm not sure the money was high enough incentive for her to do that again. But I'll try to find out. Still, I know she was really thrilled to be making money before she left for "work".

Personally, I am willing to pay 1000 yen per hour to anyone who has impressed me enough that I would even consider letting them take on that responsibility!

But given that the starting pay at any number of fast food or family restaurants is around 850 per hour, I suppose 1000 yen/hour might appear a bit high pay for a young person.

By Mika Yamaguchi on Monday, June 9, 2003 - 5:38 pm:

Hello, I am going to have a baby next January. I need to get back to work as soon as possible. In order to do that, I need to hire domestic help around the household and to pick up my child from nursery. I am planning to hire domestic help for 3-4 hours in the evening from Monday to Friday.
From what I understand, standard rate is 1,500 yen per hour but if it is 5 days a week, would there be a better rate ? Would appreciate if someone with similar experience reply. Thank you !!

By Scott Hancock on Monday, June 9, 2003 - 6:17 pm:


I would encourage you to look at some factors in addition to the pay rate, for this big responsibility.

My impresion and experience is that most of the people you will find available for this are not Japanese. Many have been here a long time and have established reputations for reliability. However, even within "reliable", there are many interpretations as to what constitutes good childcare. I encourage you to look into these deeper issues when comparing pay rates.

If you have access, there is a notice board at Tokyo American Club where many childcare givers post notices. I would look for ones who can provide live references and check them throughly.

The other issue is that if you are not the sponsor of an alien childcare giver, they are subject to following the needs of the person who is. So, this becomes another factor, as above.

Hope this is helpful.


By Kit on Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 12:27 am:

Dear Mika,

Scott's answers are, as usual, good ones. My experience matches his, except that I did once find a young Japanese woman who was interested in working as an au pair abroad. In order to do that, she needed babysitting experience & a reference. She charged only 1000 yen/per hour, but I'd have paid her twice that. She was an excellent caregiver -- gifted, really --but was not expected to do any household chores other than feed my child the meal I had prepared ahead of time.

You might contact Japanese au pair outfits, or put up notices at universities and/or nursing schools for such a person once your child is older, but for a baby or very young infant, I would go with a "pro," even if the cost is higher. I would also recommend that you and the person you hire spend a few trial days together even before the baby is born. I did that, and learned a lot in the process (like best diaper brands, where to get a changing pad, etc.) A "pro" will never make you feel inferior or secondary in your own home, and will be sensitive to your needs, sometimes before you know you have them. It can be a very good experience for all concerned, but trust your instincts, and get someone who "feels right" or you won't be able to get a speck of work done!

All best, and good luck!

By Mika Yamaguchi on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 11:01 am:

Scott and Kit,

Thank you very much for your response and encouragement. I still have time so I would like to evaluate what is the best thing for my baby. I am glad I found this website to find experienced people like you !!

By Nathalie on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 1:59 pm:

Mika, you might get a small discount if you sponsor your helper. I imagine you'd have to sponsor if you hire her 5 days a week, unless she has a spouse visa. When you sponsor, you usually negociate a monthly or weekly salary, which may end up being lower than 1500 yen / hour when you divide by the number of hours worked. However, when you sponsor, you have to add up social security, home leave, pay your helper on holidays and when you're away on vacation, so if you take a lot of vacation, it will increase the effective hour rate...
You have to negociate directly with your helper, but don't expect big discount if you choose an experienced person, especially if she's been in Japan for a while.

By Heather Montgomery on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 - 4:17 pm:

Mika: I am answering late since I had forgotten my password, but wanted to let you know about my own experience.

I was interested in your question since I have some business trips coming up and am considering asking our home helper to come with me (to take care of our baby during the day while I work). That would mean paying her for a day or two and a night of work. I wonder if I have to still pay the same hourly rate: that would get really expensive. Does anyone have experience with this?

Anyway, for now our helper just does housework, not too much with the baby, which is what it sounds like you are looking for. I know that the going rate seems to be 1,500 per hour, but my husband really wanted to hire someone Japanese so we went through one of those agencies that introduce someone. Because there is a percentage that goes to the company, it gets up to 2,000 per hour. We pay the same hourly fee no matter how many days she comes or how many hours it is. Other than the hourly fee we only pay her actual transportation fees, (not a set transportation fee, which I understand is common).

Advantages of going with a Japanese company are that the person will be Japanese and probably live in your area, and therefore there are no issues with sponsorship or the person wanting to go back home with little advance notice when you really need help etc...

On top of the required fee, my husband decided to give tips when things are really hard: for example, when he is travelling or the baby has been sick or when we ask for extra hours for some reason. At first I thought this was not necessary since we already pay a lot, but I found it makes a huge difference in how happy she is with her job and therefore how well she works. She only comes for a few hours but does an amazing amount in that time (much more than we could even between the two of us!). She also saves us money by finding really cheap food or cleaning supplies. So paying more can really pay off.

Finally, I saw that in addition to help in the house you are thinking of getting someone to pick up your baby from the nursery. This can be a great relief and having just 10 minutes after work to change clothes etc... is a huge luxury. Despite these benefits I decided to go back to picking up my baby myself. They give a lot of very important information when you pick up the baby at the end of the day and most of it is just verbal, not written down in the daily diary. I decided that I wanted to get that information myself.

Best of luck to you.

By Joanne Lin on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - 2:35 pm:

Hi, Heather,
I am interested in your response since I am in the process of switching domestic helpers. Iˇ¦ve tried the foreign helpers. They are excellent at cleaning but mediocre at child caring. The person I hired before took my son out in the rain without an umbrella. He got a cold after that. But it all depends on the person you hired. Some may find a reliable helper.
I contacted Japanese agency before. But the helpers they introduce refuse to do anything other than ˇ§baby sitting.ˇ¨, it means no cleaning, no cooking and no extra hours. Plus we have to sign a contract with them to indicate the hours they work. We have to pay them extra if we ask them to stay longer than usual. It has so many restrictions. So, we did not use that agency.

Could you share the name of the agency? Could you elaborate more on the pro/cons between a foreign helper and a Japanese helper? Does your Japanese helper cook and clean too? I am looking forward to hear your comments.

By Heather Montgomery on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - 6:13 pm:

Hi Joanne:
I believe the name of our agency was Asakusa Kaseifu Shokaijyo. I was surprised to find out that there are plenty of agencies like this all over Tokyo, so you can probably find several exactly in your area. My husband just looked in the yellow pages, made up a note of the hours and services we needed, and faxed or mailed it out to a bunch of companies in the area. We got responses from several and they seemed anxious to get us as customers. You may have found the agency you contacted to have a lot of rules if it was affiliated with the ward. We tried first the ward office: both silver service and family support. Both consider themselves volunteer services (cost per hour is relatively low) and they are very strict about what they will and won't do. But the private companies that we eventually found were flexible, and what you could ask of the helper depended on that person's experience and willingness. That said, we do have a contract for the number of hours she works and do always pay for extra hours. I think this would be true anywhere.

It seems that most of these services are geared to caring for the elderly, so we met with a couple of potential helpers who had no interest in our situation or didn't feel comfortable helping out with the baby. We eventually settled on someone who didn't have experience with babies and decided to only ask her for cleaning and cooking. At first she did almost nothing helping with the baby. But as I wrote before she is excellent at the cooking and cleaning (including laundry) and now also does quite a bit of (bargain) shopping for us. As far as the baby goes, she always prepares his food and does a great job with that and she has also picked him up or taken him to daycare when we really needed help, but in general I prefer to do that. Now she has been helping us for a while and has started to feel comfortable with caring for him, she will do more, especially when my husband is away. For example: she will feed the baby and watch him for a few minutes if I need to change clothes or shower, she has bathed him on occasion, but again, I prefer doing that. One day when my husband was away and I was quite ill, she did just about everything and I realized that she had become quite competent at caring for him. She even took him to the doctor for a checkup and then dropped him at the daycare as I simply could not get out of bed. But as I wrote before, we always pay for the extra hours or work we ask for and on top of that usually give a generous tip. I think it is worth it because she has really saved me a few times and it is great to have someone we trust who is flexible as to what she will do (feeding and bathing the baby, for example, were not in the original contract).

As far as the pros/cons of a Japanese agency -
Pros: the person is less likely to leave you suddenly in a lurch, at least provided they are happy with the situation. Our helper really needs more money and we don't give her as many hours of employment as she would like. We got worried that she would leave us at a difficult time and that is part of the reason we pay generous tips. Also, if we ask her not to come because of a holiday or other reason, we try to ask for extra hours some other time. Right now I think she is pretty happy and has asked to have her contract extended (they get renewed every 6 months). Other pro is that you may have a go-between if there are problems. My husband was nervous about having someone we don't know come in the home (he is Japanese) and felt better about having a company that we could go to if something went wrong. But in the end we never use the company for anything, really. I guess another pro is that she of course speaks Japanese and so I feel she is competent in shopping, talking to the daycare, taking him to the doctor, etc.

Cons are that it is slightly more expensive per hour (but you may save on transportation). At the risk of really generalizing, another con might be that you find the Japanese helpers more opinionated about stuff and less willing to just do things the way you want because you are the employer. Our helper is about 60 and has a lot more experience in just about everything she is doing that I do. So she has a lot of opinions about things that some people might find hard to deal with (ie: what veges to eat in what season, what cleaners to use, where to buy stuff, etc). Now that she has been with us for a while, she is really attached to the baby and has especially strong opinions about him (for example she thinks the baby carrier I got in the US is not good because he faces forward into the wind and thinks I should use the "piggy back" type that women of her generation in Japan use) Helpers from the Japanese agencies will probably not speak English and they are in general not used to foreigners who might do things differently than "normal". In our case it took a while to work out how things would go. I mostly gave in and did things her way since she does a good job and I don't care too much about the details. The only thing I don't give in on are stuff related to the baby: what he eats etc. But I completely gave up on her ever figuring out how to make our bed, and we never eat "western food" when she cooks because she isn't familiar with it. It took a while for her to give in and buy low-fat milk (which she thinks tastes terrible). On the other hand, I learned from her that our baby's futon covers have little ties in the corner to keep them from slipping around and also lots of money saving tips for shopping in Japan. And all the fish rice and veges has been great for my health.

I'm surprised that you found the foreign domestic helpers not to be good at child care since I had heard that they are quite experienced. We didn't find too many people at the Japanese agency who were experienced with child care, but then again we were mostly looking for help with housework and cooking. One problem I faced was that the agencies seemed reluctant somehow to let us interview people and select someone. They wanted us to just decide on their agency and then take whomever they sent us. I thought this was outrageous since the person would be in our home and helping with the baby to some extent. So I insisted and we did get to meet people, but it wasn't like in the US where they send you a stack of resumes and then you interview several candidates and select someone. We just got to meet one person whom the agency has selected to make sure she was OK.

Hope this helps (sorry it is so long!)

By Joanne Lin on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 1:27 pm:

Hi, Heather,
I'd really appreciated your insightful-first-hand experience on the issue.
Your experience gives me some ideas on what to look for when hiring a Japanese helper. I would keep your advise in mind.

By Jerry on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 1:46 pm:

We are currently interviewing full-time Filipina babysitters (our baby is due in August), and most of the interviewees are asking for 220,000 yen per month, one month bonus pay, one month of vacation and one round trip ticket to the Phillipines per year.

I'd be curious if anyone else can confirm that those are the market terms.


By Scott Hancock on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 4:18 pm:

They must be organizing themselves before coming to see you. :) I think this is what someone you've confirmed over time to be valuable to you would get.

I 'believe' the minimum contracted amount for immigration sponsorship is 150,00/month. This is just an indicator, though Certainly many make more, but only after confirming their suitability.

"One month of vacation"!!! No way in our book. Again, not that it's unheard of, but to ask for it out of the box seems too much.

If you do get into these kind of conditions, at least speak to a live former emplyer and quiz them in detail.


By Marie Kawachi on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 5:53 pm:


I agree with Scott, I think what they are asking from you is too much. And one month vacation? That'really too much. I really suggest that you talk to somebody in the Immigration regarding this matter.

By Jerry on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 6:32 pm:

Scott and Marie,

Thanks for your responses. As further background, we are going to ask the sitter to work from 9 to 7, Monday through Friday and about 4 hours on Saturday. She won't live with us. That's 54 hours per week. I don't know what a standard work week is, but that seems like a long week. Do you have a sense for what a fair salary would be under those conditions? I don't want to overpay, but I do want a happy, motivated sitter.
Thanks again, Jerry

By Scott Hancock on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 6:42 pm:

I can't agree with Marie's comment about talking to Immigration. They are not the Labor Office. Less said to Immigration, the better in my opinion.

I suppose 40hrs/week is a starting point. But, it's the total package to think about and bargain with. The 220K figure might be ok for that many hours, but what about:

vacation time
tickets home
train pass
workload (siting only vs sitting plus housework?)

150,000/40hr wk is about 900yen/hr

220,000/54hr wk is just a bit more.

So, maybe start with that salary and add the benefits above as performance is proven.

FWIW, I also believe that it's important and fair to make very clear in simple, direct language what you expect. Sometimes it's difficult to reduce our "feelings" down to concrete terms that new people can convert into behavior.


By Scott Hancock on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 6:45 pm:

Also, are you sponsoring your person's visa? With such a schedule we assume so, but....

Especially these days, being a sponsor is a big deal, I think.


By Jerry on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 8:23 pm:


Thanks for your input. Yes, we will sponsor the person. I've asked colleagues about sponsorship, but I haven't gotten a lot of specific information on the requirements. I assume it's a big hassle.

Also, I've heard that the employer is not required to withhold and pay taxes on the salary to the Japanese government. Can anyone confirm that that is correct?



By Anne Bergasse on Monday, July 28, 2003 - 10:15 pm:


The average price per hour for a helper is 1,500 yen but if you provide steady work you can set a monthly salary of 150,000 yen for 5 days and 180,000 yen for 6 days a week. Meals and lodging (if live in) and transportation to and from your location are paid for by the employer.

Some salaries are higher than this but its rare and usually because the helper has been with the employer a long time and is considered a valued member of the family. Vacation leaves are usually longer for this group also.

The norm for vacation leave is 2 weeks and its usual for the employer to pay for the plane ticket to and from the home country.

Helpers who are organized and good at what they do can cook 2-3 meals a day, clean your house and look after your children (well). A good helper will take the initiative and will work as long as is necessary to take care of the family.

I recommend interviewing many and trying out a few helpers first before hiring. I interviewed about 30 over the phone and 6 during a 2-day stay over interview/work trial which I paid for. Steady work is hard to come by nowadays. Most helpers have 2 days here, 1 day there, gaps in between and have to pay their own transportation and have no benefits such as a paid vacation . So almost anyone will be happy for a steady job where they can rely on regular income.

If you treat your helper with respect, they will love looking after you. I know many women, including myself, who love their helpers. All of us will stress one thing. You must set the rules. If you are clear on what you want and how you want things done and you find someone who responds to that you will be very happy.

If you can offer sponsorship then you will have many candidates to choose from as sponsorship is hard to get. You cannot sponsor if you are a Japanese national or here on a permanent resident visa (this rule protects the local labor). If you have a diplomat visa sponsorship is no problem. A business investor visa or professional visa (accountant, lawyer) have some extra paperwork but can also sponsor. The only other option you have is to sponsor your helper as a employee of your company (which we did) and this can only be done if your helper has a University degree. Because they will be an employee of your company you will have to withhold taxes and your helper will have pay them. No matter how a helper is sponsored they are required to file taxes.

I hope this helps you. If you want to discuss it in more detail please don't hesitate to email me directly.
cheers, Anne

By Nathalie on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 12:15 am:

I think a salary of 150 000 yen /month would be for a live in nanny. From what I've seen so far, live out are more expensive. When we sponsored our nanny, we wrote that she was 'live in' and earning 180 000 yen /month. Apparently, you have to tell that your nanny is living with you when you sponsor with a business investor visa. With this salary, she told us she doesn't have to pay taxes (and I think she's right because she's had no problem renewing her visa for several years). As she's not living with us, we pay her more than her official salary. And she gets 1 month vacation, but no bonus. She used to work for friends under the same conditions, and they told us they were rather standard ones.

By Scott Hancock on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 - 1:51 am:

Jerry, I think you can see from all our different comments, there is a range of opinions on what conditions are "normal".

My understanding about taxes is that below a certain level, they aren't paid. However, no matter what the salary, you have to pay the social insurance premiums if you are the sponsor.

As for sponsoring procedure, this seems to change over time. At one time, it was necessary to be rather senior on one's company to "qualify". But, maybe that has become less stringent now.

A helper with the experience you are looking for is probably experienced also in the immigration procedures. However, not necessarily and the safest way is to have someone handle it. It depends on your personal style. I'm sure many will jump in here and say "It's easy. Just file x,y,z papers." It can be like that,too.

But, since you are looking to sponsor, I think it becomes that much more important to do the trial like Anne suggests. Once you do the sponsorship, you would want to wait to do another one (though there seems to be no computer tracking of this)

By Alice Chan on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 1:51 pm:

Hi, my name is Alice. My hubby & I together with the baby will relocate to Tokyo next March. We plan to have part-time maid worked for us several hours per week but don't know what's the average hourly rate that they are charging or you are paying. Can anyone be kind to give me some guideline on that? Appreciate you can kindly send me a short reply via

By Melinda Koest on Saturday, November 13, 2004 - 8:30 pm:

My children, HS students, used to babysit
for 1000Y to 1500Y per hour. It depends
on the transport, the task you ask them to
do etc.
I am also thinking of proposing
babysitting hours because I feel so lonely
during daytime. I love children and I am
sure that babysitting will be a nice time to
share between me and your children. Just
estimate the wage yourself.

By Joanna Bennett on Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 11:58 am:

We are thinking of getting some part time help and have heard that if you sponsor someone, you could work out a better deal instead of paying the going rate of 1,500 yen per hour. Has anyone ever 'done a deal'? What is reasonable?

By Bernadette V. Dimalanta on Monday, May 2, 2005 - 9:15 pm:

Hi Ms.Joanna,this is Bernadette,you know what, I'm working for someone who is presently sponsoring me,who might be going home for good after summer,but if you are still interested up to now,feel free to call me at 03-3713-2248/090-7822-6023 I can assure you you'll really get a good deal.If you need any reference pls call Chris Johnson at 03-3746-0298.Thank you!

By Nancy on Tuesday, May 3, 2005 - 12:42 pm:

Joanna, yes, it is true that if you sponsor help, generally they will give you at least 4 hours per week of free babysitting or cleaning. That seems to be the minimum, but there are many variables, including whether the position is live in or out and whether you need them on a full time basis or not. In order to sponsor you must have a particular type of visa, and ultimately you are responsible for this person. There are currently many ads running on this board where positions are being sought so this may be a good starting point for you. Good luck!

By Julie Barry on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 12:02 am:

I currently have a part-time helper who works 3 days a week plus Saturday nights, and I pay 1500 yen per hour. I do not sponsor her. I am going back to the states for almost 2 months this summer. My children love her, and I want to keep her, especially for Saturday night babysitting. However, I'm not sure I want to pay her for all of her days while I am gone. What do other people do? Do you just find somebody else when you return from your vacation, or do you pay them for all of the time you are gone?

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, May 18, 2005 - 12:29 am:

So, Julie, what you are trying to do is make sure she doesn't take another job for the hours you want, right? There are as many kinds of deals as there are people working together.

For the helper to get paid even some of the wages for not working, it would be a windfall for her. You could try to offer paying some portion for her to be available when you get back. She can possibly get work during those hours just while you're gone and maybe make more than her normal rate.

If you opt for paying all or part of her usual hours to keep her, you do have some risk of her still not being available when you get back. Even with the best of intentions, stuff happens to people and things change. So, whatever you might offer to pay to retain her, make sure you are prepared to lose it completely after you get back.

I also suggest writing down the agreement in very simple, direct language, so both parties are clear.

By Anja Holder on Wednesday, July 6, 2005 - 2:13 pm:

we're looking for a babysitter for one evening and/or one afternoon /week at the moment.
What's a reasonable price?
How can we find a good babysitter?Thanks for any help!

By Christina Hicks on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 6:38 pm:

Can anyone give me an idea about the costs of hiring a live in maid in Tokyo?

Can you please advise of what the minimum wage is now and is this paid in full by the sponsor of the maid do maids contribute towards the host's food or housing at all?

Do live-in maids babysit in evenings if they live in or are they paid extra on top of the minimum wage for this?

Does the maid have to pay taxes? What are the extras the sponsor needs to cover? Do people usually "share" maids and if so, how do people breakdown the costs?

We have a nice maid that we'd like to bring from Singapore to Tokyo and we're just trying to get a feel for costs and practicalities.


By Chris on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 7:34 pm:

Hi Christina-
We just moved to Tokyo from Singapore and we brought our maid with us. She is live-in and everything is pretty much the same except she is responsible for her own taxes. If she works on a day off we pay her extra other than that she babysits in the evening which is no more than once a week and we almost always leave when our girls are sleeping and they stay asleep.

We pay her the minimum of 150,000 yen/month and we pay for all of her food. We pay for her calls home to her children as we did in Singapore and that is about 1,000 yen/month on a calling card. We also bought and pay for her mobile phone for minimum usage and that is 1,500 yen/month. That is so I can always make sure I can get ahold of her. If she goes over the 1,500 yen/month it will be deducted from her salary.

All of the paperwork to get her in the country as we had a consultant do it was 200,000 yen. And of course we paid for her ticket to get here.

We also live in a house with a maid's room as to make her feel welcome and confortable as well as the entire family comfortable. Many apts/houses in the heart of expat land do not have maids rooms. We live in Higashi Gotanda about 4 km away from the heart of all the expats.

That's all I can think of for now.

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