re: Why (I think) "Cost of Living" pay for remote workers is BS. VIEW POST


You are thinking about this wrongly. Employees are not paid by how much value they add to the company. Employees are paid by how rare their skills are in the marketplace, and also how in-demand their skills are. If your skills are rare and in-demand, you get paid well. You get paid badly if your skills are abundant in the marketplace or not in-demand.

So if the job can be done remotely, existing on-premises and remote employees are competing with everyone in the world who can do that job - they are competing on skills and price. And obviously someone who is in somewhere cheaper to live can still afford to take a job at $75,000 whereas someone who is in San Fran might want to be paid $100,000 for (because they have higher living costs).

You are forgetting the job market IS A market. Companies will pay the minimum that they can get away with.

I'm not saying I agree or like it. But you have to see that the world is one big marketplace for employees if your job can be done remotely. Take to the streets and demonstrate, unionise, protest if you want.

But don't think about it wrongly - you aren't paid according to your value to the company, you are paid according to the minimum the company can get away with to get the skills they need.


I assure you friend, you'll find quite hard to find a bigger fan of free enterprise capitalism than me. I understand completely what's going on here, but that doesn't mean I don't recognize the difference between what a company can do and what a company should do

My point is not to start some revolution whereby this practice is made illegal, I want to raise awareness that this practice is not a "Fair to all employees" system, it is a "Save the company money wherever we can" system, and the appropriate way to fix this is to let remote workers know the shouldn't just tacitly accept it.

Honestly if a company like GitLab came forward and said "Yes, we pay people less where we can to save money" I'm all out of complaints. It's this facade of "fairness" that I find extremely disingenuous an utterly indefensible.


I worked for GitLab for 2 and half years. I joined as the 9th employee, and that is exactly what they do. The way their salary calculator works has nothing to do about fairness. It is about how much money can we save by hiring this person in this country. They even have "Compensation Specialists" whose sole purpose is to handle these situations.

They will never say it is that way. They hide a lot of bad culture underneath that whole "we are super open" facade.

Let's be honest we all do it. People buy from china/brazil whatever because of the price. They go in vacations in cheap places/coutries (or even retire there). If you discuss with them they'll say they don't want child labor, people without vacation or social security and so on, that they want to protect local work but they are the first to try to get the most of their money regardless.

An enterprise is exactly the same. There no reason why they should be more ethical than the rest of us. And we can't ask them to be when our own behavior mean that if they don't do it they go bankrupt.

See my response to your previous comment.

Shopping around for the lowest price, and a company policy that says "Screw people who live in poor communities" are not the same thing.

But the policy doesn't say it. You say it. They don't So that the whole difference.

Exactly the same if you buy cheap from country that don't provide decent working conditions. You don't say it, but you do it.

GitLab wrote a whole article that says it:

it's this EXPLICIT policy, I'm against. Not voluntary market negotiations that result in unequal pay.

github is just one actor inside what you call voluntary market negociations.

I mean there no such thing as getting what you want. Both parties have to agree and if they do not, there no contract, if they agree there a contract. But that doesn't mean the company can force people to work for them or that on the contrary they are forced to provide a given level of compensation (outside of local regulation rules).

I work in India, where salaries are very low compared to USA or Europe.
I am just pointing out about the line pertaining to going to cheaper vacations, the truth at least for me is, some of the vacations might end up taking more than half of my yearly salary, which might not even end up as a month for a dev located in USA.


Point taken - the company should be honest about their motivations when introducing a change to cost of living pay schemes and not call it "fair to all employees" and it is right to call them out on this. I stand corrected!

I love this comment thread so much, because of the respect for each other's opinions and kindness in communication! There are so many sites where "don't read the comments" is great advice, and I'm so so glad that The Practical Dev isn't one of them!

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